Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 May 2021
Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the Tripolitan, Syrian-Lebanese and wider Middle Eastern contexts within which Tawhid would emerge, and it hints at some of the local themes which the movement would address. It explains the rapid growth of Islamist movements in 1970s Tripoli with reference to their readiness to embody the city’s older rebel identity and to their ability to tap into its pool of discontent, itself stemming from particularly acute local political and social grievances. These functions used to be fulfilled by leftist movements but the chapter notes how their failure to oppose the Syrian regime, which was fast becoming the arch-enemy of many Tripolitans in the local collective psyche, led to their decline and to the rise of Islamist movements instead, a trend also facilitated by the broader sense that Islamism had cultural and political momentum. This sets the scene to understand the local context within which Tawhid was created and rapidly grew in early 1980s Tripoli.