Day two and counting.. ERF 20th annual conference

Comparative Experiences of Social Injustice

The ERF 20th Annual conference carried on for the second consecutive day with plenary session presentations on studies of social justice experiences in different countries across the globe. The 2nd plenary session was chaired by Dr. Heba Handoussa (Egyptian Network for Integrated Development “ENID”), along with a distinguished panel of economists; Shanta Devarajan (World Bank Africa), Mahmoud El-Gamal (Rice University) and Carlos Eduardo Vélez (Universidad de los Andes).

Speakers during the 2nd plenary session

ERF 20th Annual Conference 2nd plenary session

World Bank Africa’s chief economist Shantayanan Devarajan addressed the issue of “capture and the failure of free public services” in developing countries. Devarajan argues how the nature of free public services promotes inequality of opportunity, where the elite can “capture” the better end of public goods distribution. The paper focused mainly on case studies from African and Asian countries; namely Mali, Gabon, India and Indonesia respectively.

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Islamism and Islamist Movement into a Historical Perspective

(This is a cross-post based on a blog post, “Islamism and Islamist Movement into a Historical Perspective“, published on the ERF Blog by Zeinab Sabet, Research Communication Capacity Building Manager at GDNet. The post is based on video from the first plenary session at the 2013 ERF Annual Conference, speaker Jean-Philippe Platteau, (University of Namur and University of Oxford), addressed the origins and roles of Islamist movements)

Mosquee by Huge Hugo, on Flickr (CC)

Mosquee by Huge Hugo, on Flickr (CC)

Islamism is an ideology that guides people’s daily social, political and personal lives based on the Islam religion. After the recent uprisings in the MENA region, Islamism has become a dominating governing body in the Arab World. In a paper titled The Roots of Islamic Movements in the Muslim World, the author discusses how recent Islamic movements are a way in which Muslim countries are trying to get rid of western ways that they believe do not alleviate exploitation, poverty and social injustice, in order to create their own system based on their religious values.

In an interview with Jean-Philippe Platteau, (University of Namur and University of Oxford), at the 2013 ERF Annual Conference, he addresses the origins and roles of these Islamist movements. According to him, a glimpse into the historical perspective is essential in order to assess Islamism, the emergence of Islamist movements, their role and their future.

Platteau states that three main aspects characterize Islamist movements. Looking at the definition of a reformist movement, the scripturalist approach to the holy text seems to be the major landmark; there is no freedom in text interpretation. The second characteristic is the puritanical dimension, or the idea that a moral decline is the source of social disorder. Thirdly discussed is the millenarian and messianic aspect of being the source of a big change in the society bringing happiness and harmony to the society.

Taking a glimpse into Islamic history, one realizes that many of puritanical movements have arisen in attempts to consolidate power, to unify territories or to build-up nations. A modern example proving this point is Saudi Arabia, united by the Wahhabi puritanical ideology.

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