Bernard Rougier. Everyday Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam Among Palestinians in Lebanon.

AuthorMeier, Daniel
PositionBook review

Bernard Rougier. Everyday Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam Among Palestinians in Lebanon. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007. 333 pages. Paper $19.95.

While some readers thought that Everyday Jihad is an honest and thoroughly documented inquiry regarding the rise of jihadism in Lebanon, others incriminated the author Bernard Rougier for his "orientalism," arguing that Rougier depicted all Palestinian refugees as fanatics having "angry dreams of jihad". In this review, I will assess Rougier's scientific work. Bernard Rougier is interested in the emergence of jihadism in Lebanon.

In order to carry out his inquiry and fieldwork, he choose to take a closer look at the Palestinian camps of this country. By focusing on the Ain al-Hilweh camp, he noticed that since the end of the 15-year-long civil war in 1990, a struggle had begun for control of the political and religious identity of the Palestinian refugees. A small group of activists, under the jihad flag, had been seeking to demean the traditional Palestinian identity that the PLO had set up.

The book is seven chapters divided into two parts. The first, entitled "The Salafist dynamic" explores the roots and the general conditions of the emergence of jihadism in Lebanon as well as its links to external influences. The second part, "Civil war ideology" deals with internal processes and explains how the jihadists took control over camp areas through preachers and Islamic institutes, in the broader context of Syrian control over Lebanon. Hence, the entire book comes across as a fascinating and gradual insight to better understand the reasons of the rise of such a violent and military conception of Islam within the Palestinian camps.

Rougier's political and sociological techniques and methodology takes us beyond the camps, and enables Rougier to show us the importance of the decline of the PLO's power in Lebanon since 1982. That decline generated the conditions for the entry of Iranian influence, understood as a politicization of Islam, and it paved the way toward a rethinking of the national political Palestinian link through Islamism. By reminding us of the importance of the Islamist network from its birthplace in Peshawar, Pakistan, the author clearly demonstrates the mediation of the local appropriation of this global movement. He underlines the strategic roles of the Murshid Institution and this new socialization for the young Palestinians using Hizbullah's institutions to grow up...

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