Cole Bunzel

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Social Reform In The Kingdom: Between “Westernizers” And “Guardians Of Virtue”

by Cole Bunzelvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

“These astonishing things that have been happening in the Land of the Two Holy Places … if King Abd al-Aziz were to come out of his grave and witness them, he would not believe that this is his kingdom that he worked so hard to establish and unite.” So lamented Abd al-Muhsin al-‘Abbad, an outspoken Wahhabi cleric, in a late 2017 assessment of the social reforms being implemented in Saudi Arabia. The king in question was the founder of the modern realm, Abd al-Aziz ibn Sa‘ud (d. 1953), who is also the father of the present king, Salman, and grandfather of the new crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman (MbS).

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Jihadism On Its Own Terms

by Cole Bunzelvia Hoover Institution
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

In this essay Cole Bunzel argues that jihadism, the modern movement in Sunni Islam identified with al-Qaida and the Islamic State, is best understood on its own terms, rather than in terms of terrorism, violent extremism, or the larger Islamist movement. Examining the jihadis’ own writings and ideas and emphasizing their self-perception as a distinct movement—“the jihadis,” “the jihadi current”—he explains the nature and contours of their movement as it has developed during the past decades to the present day. As jihadism grows increasingly popular, it has also become increasingly divided.