Shifting Reputations for “Moderation”: Evidence from Qatar, Jordan, and Morocco

In: Middle East Law and Governance
Annelle R. Sheline Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University,

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The article examines the monarchies of Qatar, Jordan, and Morocco to demonstrate how specific policies and ideologies do not necessarily correspond with the label of “moderate,” which instead primarily reflects a reputational strategy. Prior to 2011, Qatar had cultivated an image as a relatively “liberal” Gulf monarchy, but although few policy changes occurred, after 2011 the emirate was seen as sponsoring terrorism. The government of Morocco developed a reputation for promoting “moderate Islam,” yet religious intolerance persists, while the Jordanian regime has focused less on cultivating a moderate image than previously. Government efforts to develop a specific reputation reflect strategic maneuvering for both international religious soft power as well as consolidation of domestic control. Combining nine months of ethnographic fieldwork involving interviews with government officials, religious bureaucrats, and embassy personnel, the paper offers insights into how the strategic use of reputation has shifted in the post-2011 context.

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