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Governing the Faithful: State Management of Salafi Activity in the Francophone Sahel

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The article examines how four states in the francophone Sahel have managed Salafi activity since independence. States that established institutional oversight mechanisms in the Islamic sphere prior to the emergence of Saudi Arabia as a global exporter of Salafi ideology have effectively counteracted the rise of political and jihadi Salafism in recent decades. Autocratic incumbents created national Islamic associations, determined the leadership makeup of these, and delegated state authority to non-Salafi leaders so as to regulate access to the Islamic sphere. The tacit cooperation arrangements between state and nonstate actors enabled the former to demobilize religious challengers. States that chose strategies other than institutional regulation contributed to the rise of political and security challengers. These findings challenge conventional assumptions about the inability of weak states to regulate their religious spheres and shed new light on the complex relationship between weak states and Islam.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2019

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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