Hamas in Politics, by Jeroen Gunning

Jeroen Gunning’s Hamas in Politics: Democracy, Religion, Violence provides a much-needed analysis of Hamas and its political ideology based on the author’s extensive fieldwork in the Gaza Strip. Drawing on interviews with Hamas leaders, Gunning presents a portrait that challenges the reductionist view of the group as merely a terrorist movement. Gunning writes:

Hamas’ ideology is neither inherently anti-democratic, nor anti-modern nor wholly anti-Western. It is critical of Western foreign policy in the Middle East. It is equally critical of secular democracy and its associated practices, and of secular rationality. Nevertheless, Hamas draws heavily on Western democratic notions such as the popular will, the social contract and inalienable human rights…. Authority is derived from having a popular mandate—not piety, religious knowledge or divine appointment. An Islamic state can only come about if willed by the people. Law, even Islamic law, can only be legislated by an elected legislature—not by unelected scholars—and revolves around a rational interpretation of both public interest and revelation.

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