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Complex discussions on responding to issues of radicalisation

Based on an article by Richard McNeil-Willson.
There are examples of groups and organisations which operate within the wider political space of radicalisation and extremism. One of these is Hizb ut-Tahrir, which translates from Arabic as “the Party of Liberation”. Hizb ut-Tahrir is an Islamist party, which originated in East Jerusalem in 1952, as a breakaway group from the Muslim Brotherhood. And now operates in 43 countries worldwide. In the Middle East and North Africa, the organisation operates like a political party. But in Europe, it is much more like a social movement, which aims to raise awareness of its ideology. And carry out Da’wah, the encouraging of Muslims and non-Muslims to join its ranks, to support the movement’s understanding of Islam, and to take part in its activism.
The party is problematic because it is anti-democratic and anti-state. In fact, it affirms that democracy is a Western idea incompatible with Islam. That Muslims shouldn’t integrate in the West. And that the answer to the current inequalities towards Muslims and the rise of Islamophobia is the creation of a caliphate or Islamic state in the Middle East.
However, whilst this ideology somewhat aligns with the other organisations, such as the Islamic State or ISIS, or al-Qaeda, Hizb ut-Tahrir is avowedly anti-violence, even according to its most virulent critics. And while being theoretically hostile to the state, will engage with politicians or local communities. As such, it forms an interesting enigma within discussions around extremism and radicalisation, and around the role of counter-terrorism legislation and counter-extremism programmes. There have been several attempts to ban or prescribe Hizb ut-Tahrir because of concerns over its ideology and elements of activism. Some policymakers, in fact, see the organisation as a step along the way of radicalisation. And as creating the ideological conditions which support and encourage forms of terrorism.
In places like Britain and Denmark, instead, authorities have decided against banning Hizb ut-Tahrir. because it was found that the organisation is not doing anything illegal. And that the ban would risk making some members more extreme. As a matter of fact, professionals working on radicalisation believe that Hizb ut-Tahrir operates as a kind of safety valve, which potentially draws individuals away from violence and towards non-violent forms of Islamic activism. As such, despite the fact that it is increasingly seen as an extremist organisation, there is no simple or singular response that can be agreed upon. The Aarhus Model, developed in Denmark between 2007 and 2011, is another example that reveals the complexity of terms such as radicalisation and extremism.
The model has gained prominence with its implementation in relation to Islamic State fighters, with approximately 31 individuals from the municipality of Aarhus travelling to Syria and Iraq around 2012. The aims of the model are those of equipping young people at risk of radicalisation with several life skills and access to support. So as to successfully integrate them into society, thus discouraging them to join the ranks of extremist organisations. The model has also been implemented to reintegrate returnees. After returnees from the Islamic State are prosecuted for any potential crime committed, in fact, the Aarhus model offers them the means to reintegrate back into society, including by providing them with access to health care, social care, education and training, and community reintegration programmes.
Thus, taking a more holistic track designed to monitor and support those who may have been radicalised, rather than simply punish them. The examples of the diverse approaches taken by countries towards Hizb ut-Tahrir, as well as the Aarhus Model developed in Denmark, show that discussions around radicalisation and the response to the issue are rarely straightforward. And that a variety of different measures should be used according to the context. They also provide evidence that sometimes moderate rather than draconian approaches are better equipped at preventing and responding to radicalisation.

Through the example of Hizb ut-Tahrir, this graph video addresses the complexities of radical groups that are anti-democratic and anti-state yet is not violent. The video is based on an article by Richard McNeil-Willson.

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Religion, Radicalisation, Resilience

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