Engaging with Political Islamists in the Middle East

Many European and North American governments are committed to promoting political reform and better governance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). But, they have had limited contact with the most vocal advocates for change and main opposition to existing regimes in the region, political Islamists. Moreover, European and North American governments tend to see political Islam as a uniformly negative phenomenon even though there has been a significant evolution in the thinking of some Islamist groups over the last few decades.

Islamist groups in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco and Yemen, for example, have rejected political violence, support the rule of law and endorse pluralistic politics. Still, certain policies of even the more moderate Islamist groups continue to be problematic in terms of civil rights, women's rights, freedom of expression and the treatment of religious minorities.

This grant will allow the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) in the United Kingdom to map policies on such issues as espoused by the Muslim Brotherhood and Wasat (Egypt), Islamic Action Front (Jordan), and Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Justice and Charity (Morocco). They will also map existing contacts between Western governments and these groups, and examine how these groups are treated by their respective governments.

The idea is to formulate concrete policy options for European and North American governments to engage with political Islamists in a way that strengthens moderate elements and advances political reform, respect for human rights, and regional peace and security.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Sunday, April 1, 2007

End Date

Monday, December 1, 2008


12 months

IDRC Officer

El-Rifai, Roula

Total funding

CA$ 211,845


Jordan, Middle East, Morocco, North of Sahara, South of Sahara, Central Asia, Far East Asia, South Asia, Egypt, Yemen, Kuwait, United Kingdom


Foundations for Innovation

Project Leader

David Mepham


Institute for Public Policy Research

Institution Country

United Kingdom

Institution Website