The Middle East in Transition
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The Middle East in Transition

The Centrality of Citizenship

Edited by Nils A. Butenschøn and Roel Meijer

The violent transitions that have dominated developments since the Arab Uprisings demonstrate deep-seated divisions in the conceptions of state authority and citizen rights and responsibilities. Analysing the Middle East through the lens of the ‘citizenship approach’, this book argues that the current diversity of crisis in the region can be ascribed primarily to the crisis in the relations between state and citizen. The volume includes theoretical discussions and case studies, and covers both Arab and non-Arab countries.
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Chapter 9: Can the umma replace the nation? Salafism and deterritorialised citizenship in Lebanon and Kuwait

Zoltan Pall

Abstract

This chapter examines how participating in the Salafi movement might influence the individual’s relationship to the state and his/her belonging to a political community defined by the modern concept of ‘nation’. Salafism on the discursive level offers a deterritorialised version of citizenship in the global umma, where membership is based on the purity one’s adherence to Islam rather than territorial and/or ethnic belonging. This chapter looks at how this idea of deterritorialisation translates in two localities where Salafism has gained significant foothold. In Lebanon, Salafis claim to be the vanguard of the Sunni community. Therefore, they need to negotiate how they envision the place of Sunni Muslims as constituents of a multi-sectarian state and as parts of the deterritorialised umma. Kuwaiti Salafis regard their country as a centre of Islam whose material wealth can be used to unify the umma through spreading the uncorrupted form of Islam. A faction of Salafis here ally with the ruler in order to gain the possibility to ‘Salafise’ official Islam in Kuwait. Furthermore, Salafis also emphasise the need for allegiance to the person of the Emir rather than belonging to a modern Kuwaiti nation.

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