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Religion and Politics in the Developing World: Explosive Interactions; Mainuddin, Rolin G., ed.

Saha, Santosh C.  ; Philadelphia Vol. 31, Iss. 4,  (Fall 2002): 256.
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Religion and Politics in the Developing World provides a welcome supplement to the relatively new paradigm "New Religious Politics" (Nikki R. Keddie, 1998), a neutral phrase differing from the term "fundamentalism" that generates intense academic debate. Rolin G. Mainuddin, of North Carolina Central University, has collected nine scholarly analytical essays that squarely situate ethnic and religious politics in the reawakened nationalist age within a framework of national, conflict-ridden politics, in which religion plays a controversial key role in the developing world.

Certain common features emerge from the book. First, there is an identifiable appeal in countries described here to a reinterpreted, homogenized religious tradition, seen as solving problems exacerbated by forms of secular, communal, or even foreign powers. Islam-based militancy in Algeria and Chechnya, for instance, is fueled by the belief that masses would rise up in support of the radical agenda. Elsewhere, Islam, although not as militant as in other places, has become political to a great degree. Rashiduzzaman shows how former Bangladeshi prime minister Begum Hasina, in the mode of populism, accepted the fundamentalist Jamaaat as Awami League's partner during the 1994-96 opposition movement; she even donned a veil (139).

Second, most contributors argue that religiopolitical movements were led by conservative social views. Robert Lawless, writing about Haiti, sees an explosive violence, but concludes that religion has not been decisive in social and political life (47). Sylvia M. Jacobs notes the traditional harmony in precolonial Malawi and exposes the vicious and brutal conservative order ushered in by President H. Banda. Bernard Reich and Gershon R. Kieval assert that some members of Judaism "do not have full religious freedom and are subject to religious coercion" (67). This strict religious order supported a conservative governmental attitude. Frank J. Trapp seems to argue that HAMAS's origin in Palestine can be traced...