Islamism and the Instrumentalisation of Conspiracism

In: Handbook of Conspiracy Theory and Contemporary Religion

This chapter challenges narratives that posit Islamist conspiracism as the product of a purely irrational mode of politics, contending that while Islamist conspiracy narratives are often offer both reductive and antagonistic socio-political visions, those that produce them often do so for quite rational purposes. Conspiracy narratives have served well Islamists seeking to delegitimize their opponents and justify questionable political methods. Following Gray (2010), it contends that they are able to serve this function not because conspiracism manifests an inherent character of Muslim politics, but because of the particular impact of colonialism on Muslim politics – long histories of divide and rule, as well as the manipulation of state elites by external actors, have created a political environment in which the simplistic narratives that conspiracism offers can gain credence.

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