The Failure of Secular Arab Nationalism

and the

Islamic Alternative

Gamal Abdel Nasser, 1918-1970


Š     What are the origins and meanings of secular Arab nationalism and “Nasserism” in particular?


Š     What is Islamic Fundamentalism?  What is Islamism? What are their origins, appeals, and goals?


Key Terms

1) Secular Arab Nationalism

2) Gamal Abdel Nasser and “Nasserism

3) Pan-Arabism

4) Non-Aligned Movement

5) United Arab Republic

6) Islamic Fundamentalism

7) Islamism


I.  The Model of Secular Arab Nationalism: The Egyptian “Revolution” of 1952



o  The Suez Canal and Western Interests (1854-1879)

o  Egyptian Bankruptcy and British-French Control (1879-1882)

o  British Occupation and Puppet Royal Government (1882-1914)

o  British Protectorate (1914-1922)

o  “Supervised” Independence (1922-1952)



o  Anti-Imperialism

o  Pan-Arab Nationalism (United Arab Republic) and anti-Israeli Sentiment

o  One-Party Presidential Dictatorship

o  “Arab” Socialism and Secular Modernization (Aswan Dam)

o  The Policy (Illusion) of Non-Alignment




II. The Islamic Alternative:  Fundamentalism and Islamism


Š     The “Crisis” of the Islamic World since the 18th Century:  Reality or Illusion?

o  Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong? vs. Edward Said


Š     Responses to Modernity in the Islamic World

o  Secular Reformism (Mustafa Kemal Atatürk)

o  Arab-Islamic Reformism/Nationalism (Nasser)

o  Islamic Fundamentalism/Islamism (Khomeini or Bin Laden)


Š     Islamic Fundamentalism and Sharia Law


Š     Islamism(s):  The Political Ideology of Islamic Fundamentalism


Š     Islamism and Modern Ideologies


Š     Debates and Controversies:  Western Constructions and Biases