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Saudis debate Salafism and democracy

The recent growth of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has led to an extensive debate among Islamist groups in Saudi Arabia over the relationship between Salafism and governance.
A Muslim prays at the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (The Mosque of the Prophet) before the early morning prayer of al-Fajr in the holy city of Medina January 16, 2014. Muslims marked Eid Mawlid al-Nabawi, or the birth of Prophet Mohammad, on January 14. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh (SAUDI ARABIA - Tags: RELIGION) - RTX17H44
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The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) continues to attract headlines, most recent of which was this week's capture of Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul. Its emergence is not only proving a serious threat to regional security, but also prompting a rethink of the approach of political Salafism. ISIS' implementation of its strict version of Sharia in captured towns in Syria and Iraq has provoked a debate among Islamic thinkers in Saudi Arabia over the feasibility of a political Salafist model for the modern state.

Salafist movements share with ISIS the ideological references found in the books of Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qaim and Mohammad ibn Abdel Wahhab. Despite this, Salafist movements have divergent political stances. Some completely refuse all forms of rule that exist in the Islamic world and describe them as apostasy, rendering state employees and soldiers legitimate targets of bombings. Other movements, however, refuse all forms of rebellion against authorities, calling the perpetrators of such acts dissenters whose executions at the hands of authorities are legitimate. In between these two divergent views stand other movements with less extreme stances.

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