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Pathways to reconciliation in divided societies: Islamist groups in Lebanon and Mali


Why do some population groups choose to turn away from the state and opt for violence, while other groups that may be equally frustrated with the state remain engaged with the existing polity? This question has become particularly salient and complex in the last five years following the Arab revolutions and counter-revolutions. In a number of states, Salafi groups had to choose between standing outside the domestic political game or participating in formal and informal ways in national and local politics.

We approach Sunni and Shi’I Islamism not as monolithic blocks, but as ideological arenas of dispute between competing and evolving social movements, operating in specific local contexts. Thus, focusing on cases from Tripoli, Lebanon and Bamako, Mali we show that religious actors are positioned in multiple fields at the same time. No position or pattern of allegiance should therefore be seen as permanent, but rather possible flexible and shifting. We analyse how such actors navigate such situational fields, what factors that determine their strategies’ potential for contributing to peaceful reconciliation, the sustainability of such reconciliation, and what lessons learned from the divided societies of Lebanon and Mali that are relevant for the case of Syria.


  • Terrorisme og ekstremisme
  • Afrika
  • Konflikt