Money and Morals: Salafi Economics in the Arab World

Source: Carnegie

Author(s): Francesco Cavatorta, Valeria Resta

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In the wake of the 2010–2011 Arab uprisings, many Salafis across the Middle East and North Africa moved away from their traditional noninvolvement in political activism and embraced institutional politics through the creation of political parties. To achieve success, they had to appeal to electorates and, like other parties, present voters with their political and economic program.

Declining economic conditions are one of the chief concerns of citizens in the region. However, Salafis have never paid much attention to the economy—reflected in the paucity of Salafi writings on economic issues. This shortcoming remains a serious handicap at a time when most economies in the region have not improved since the uprisings. In trying to fashion a policy framework, Salafi parties have supported measures riddled with contradictions, creating unrealistic expectations and taking a moralistic attitude toward desirable economic behavior. Facing the negative political impacts of supporting unfeasible policy, the future of Salafi parties is ultimately tied, in part, to the success of their economic proposals.

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