Extremists Stoking Religious Violence in Indonesia

by Chris Lundry Violence between Muslims and Christians broke out in the city of Ambon, Maluku Province, Indonesia on Sunday, September 11. Official sources state that an ojek (motorcycle taxi) driver named Darmis Saiman was killed in an accident on September 10. But rumors sent via text message spread the following day when he was buried claimed that the Muslim driver had been tortured to death by Christians.At last count, seven people have been confirmed […] Read more »

Seeing the Syrian Conflict through Narrative

By Jeffry R. Halverson Unlike the protests of the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt, the campaigns underway against the Assad regime in Syria have a distinctly sectarian character. The Assad regime is dominated by the Alawites, a little-known esoteric Shi‘ite sect. However, the majority of Syria’s population is Sunni Muslim (approx. 75%). And caught in the middle of the conflict are Syria’s Christians (10% of the pop.), Druze, Twelver Shi‘ites, and others, including a […] Read more »

Implicit Master Narratives in Extremist Website Launch

by Jeffry R. Halverson If you’ve read our book Master Narratives of Islamist Extremism then you already have a solid understanding of the major master narratives employed by Islamist extremists in their communications. For example, you’re able to recognize the significance of a Pharaoh reference when an extremist is condemning a world leader. Or you’re able to see the apocalyptic scheme articulated in Ahmadinejad’s praise of the “Lord of the Age” (which is not a […] Read more »

Zawahiri’s Curious Recollection of Karbala in Bin Laden Eulogy

by Jeffry R. Halverson The Karbala master narrative is one of the most rich and influential in the Islamic world, specifically among Shi‘a societies. We devoted an entire chapter to it in the book Master Narratives of Islamist Extremism, and Kamran Scott Aghaie has penned a wonderful study of it in relation to the history of Iranian identity and nationalism. There is a terrific documentary too, examining the narrative in contemporary Iran and Iraq, which […] Read more »

Escalating Muslim Reaction to Terrorist Bombings in Indonesia

by Mark Woodward* Since March 15 Indonesia has experienced another wave of bombings, including a suicide attack on the Az Zikro mosque located in a police compound in Cirebon, Central Java. The bomber struck during Friday prayers. Other targets have included a book bomb mailed to Ulil Abshar Abdallah, the leader of Jaringan Islam Liberal (The Liberal Islamic Network), the offices of Densus 88, an elite anti-terrorism unit, a natural gas pipeline and Christian churches […] Read more »

New Third Way Narrative Poses Challenge to U.S. Strategic Communication

by Bud Goodall There is a new narrative responsible for the success of the uprisings that spread from Tunisia through Egypt and now are heard in the streets of Syria, Yemen, Libya, and elsewhere.  It is a secular narrative generated by young Muslims who recognize that older jihadist forms of “telling their resistance story” by linking them to Islamic Master Narratives were largely responsible for the binary oppositions that divide them, and Islam, from the […] Read more »

A Different Kind of Crusader?

by Chris Lundry In our work identifying and tracking the use of Islamist narratives here at the CSC, the second most frequently invoked among Islamist extremists in our research (after Nakba or Palestine) has been the Crusader master narrative. The use of this term among Islamists connotes religious war, subjugation by Western Christians, injustice, and eventual colonization. Its use in the West, however, connotes a much different meaning: a righteous cause, good triumphing over evil, a reclamation […] Read more »

Putin’s Crusade Remark a Master Narrative Snafu

by Jeffry R. Halverson and Bud Goodall Muammar Gaddafi, “Leader and Guide” of Libya, and Vladimir Putin, current Prime Minister of Russia and former head of the FSB (formerly KGB), have separately denounced (Putin here ) UN Security Council Resolution 1973, approving military action in Libya, as something resembling “the medieval Crusades.” We understand why Gaddafi might use the comparison for strategic communication purposes. But why would a non-Muslim Russian statesman make such a provocative […] Read more »

Islam, Pluralism and Democracy

by Mark Woodward It is now common in both academic and policy circles to ask the question “Where are the liberal Muslims?” Abrurrahman Wahid, former president of Indonesia, leads the world’s largest Muslim organization and advocates for human rights, democracy and religious pluralism. In 1990 he wrote a paper, translated here by Mark Woodward, which was strongly critical of the Suharto regime. When that regime collapsed in 1997, Wahid worked to ensure that the political […] Read more »