Sectarianism in the Service of Salafism: Shiites as a Political Tool for Jordanian Salafis

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Jordanian Salafis are often anti-Shiite and employ the religious and conspiratorial arguments against Shiism found among Salafis elsewhere. Yet the specific arguments they use show that they are not merely the Jordanian exponents of a global anti-Shiite Salafi trend, but also have reasons of their own to exploit sectarianism. These reasons have to do with the near absence of Shiite communities in Jordan (meaning that anti-Shiite sentiments will not lead to civil strife in Jordanian society itself), the regime’s ecumenical attitude towards Twelver and Fiver Shiites and its highly critical views of ‘political Shiism’ and ‘Shiitizers’. At the same time, the position of Salafis in Jordan, whose beliefs are viewed with scepticism by a regime that supports ‘moderate’ Islam, also plays a role. Quietist Salafis, who shun political activism, are keen to show the regime their non-violent, obedient and loyalist credentials as allies in the fight against radical Islamism. Political Salafis, who do engage in political activism, also want to show that there is nothing to fear from them and that they can be trusted. Both groups have used Shiism to make these points, showing that Salafi anti-Shiism is not just a global phenomenon, but is also locally shaped.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-359
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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