TOI: Bringing in the Other Islamists

- comparing Arab Shia and Sunni Islamism(s) in a sectarianized Middle East

TOI: Bringing in the Other Islamists - comparing Arab Shia and Sunni Islamism(s) in a sectarianized Middle East. Research on Islamism has remained predominantly Sunni-centric. This project brings ‘the Other Islamists’ – Shia Islamists – into the debate on Islamism in the Arab Middle East. It will use a cross-disciplinary theoretical approach which takes religion seriously without essentialising it, to explore whether, and if so, how and why, Shia Islamism(s) differ from their Sunni counterparts. The project will focus on three research puzzles drawn from the Islamism and sectarianization debates: 1) to what extent are Islamist movements shaped by their context, to what extent by their religious identity/ideology/institutions; 2) to what extent and how does the importance of sect-coded identities for Islamist movements change over time and how has this affected/been affected by the process of sectarianization; 3) what role does sectarian othering play in intra-sect competition within the current sectarianized milieu. These questions are examined through three WPs made up of comparative and within-case-studies of key Islamist movements in Kuwait, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Bahrain. The studies will be carried out by a team of internationally leading experts.

The TOI Project is funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark (5.383.987 DKK) and will be running from September 2019 till January 2024.


- Raphaël Lefèvre has talked about 'Jihad in the City' in his "2022 Paul Wilkinson Memorial Lecture" at the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV), University of St Andrews, United Kingdom. March 3 2022.

- TOI-POMEPS Workshop (virtual) Feb 4 on Shia/Sunni Islamists in new warscapes with presentations by Jeroen Gunning, Mohammed Hafez, Michael Gabbay, Raphael Lefevre, Marc Lynch, Inna Rudolf, Younes Saramafir,  Isak Svensson, Jérome Drevon, Morten Valbjørn,

- Raphaël Lefèvre guest lecture on 'The Other Jihadis: How Shia and Sunni Jihadis differ from each other', Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, November 16 2021

- Fanar Haddad talks on Iraq in the region at the Iraq Initiative Conference 2021, Chatham House, Nov 15-16 2021.

- Raphaël Lefèvre talks with Marc Lynch on his new book 'Jihad in the City' in the POMEPS Podcast (season 11, episode 6).

- TOI Workshop on  'The 2021 Iraqi Parliamentary Elections' with contributions by Toby Dodge, Renad Mansour, Fanar Haddad, Benedict Robin-D’Cruz. October 13 2021.

- new article by Jeroen Gunning and  Dima Smaira on "Who you gonna call? Theorising everyday security practices in urban spaces with multiple security actors – The case of Beirut's Southern Suburbs". in Political Geography.

- new article by Morten Valbjørn on "Observing (the debate on) sectarianism: On conceptualizing, grasping and explaining sectarian politics in a new Middle East". Mediterranean Politics,  vol 26, issue 5..

- new article by Toby Matthiesen on "The Arab Counter-Revolution:The Formation of a Regional Alliance to Undermine the Arab Spring" in Democracy and Autocracy,

- new paper by Benedict Robin-D’Cruz on "The social logics of protest violence in Iraq: explaining divergent dynamics in the Southeast" in LSE Middle East Centre Paper Series.

- new book by Raphaël Lefèvre on Jihad in the city: militant Islamism and contentious politics in Tripoli published at Cambridge University Press

- Morten Valbjørn and Jeroen Gunning have received a grant (DKK 100.000) from the Danish Institute in Damascus for an innovative research pilot project exploring ‘everyday Islamistness’ among Shia and Sunni Muslims in Greater Beirut to be carried out in cooperation with Dima Smaira and Raphael Lefevre.

- Morten Valbjørn has received a Carlsberg Foundation Monograph Fellowship (DKK 770,000 grant) for the project ‘Rethinking Islamisms: The transformation of Islamist scenes in a new Middle East’.