The EU and Islamist Actors after the Arab Uprisings: Selective Engagement, Cognitive Frames and Domestic Factors

Benedetta Voltolini, Silvia Colombo

This paper focuses on the EU's engagement (or lack thereof) with the Islamist actors in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco following the Arab uprisings. It argues that, in light of the significant changes in the region and the rise of some Islamist movements and parties in the countries, the EU abandoned its pre-Arab uprising disengagement and opted for a selective engagement with Islamist movements and parties. While violent and radical forms of political Islam were still kept to the margins, those groups that clearly renounced violence and seemed ready to work within the (democratic) rules of the political system were considered as potential interlocutors. This approach can be explained by a partial change in the frames that the EU employs to interpret ongoing changes in the region, which has in turn been influenced by the domestic context in the three countries and the development paths of Islamist movements and parties in them.

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