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Policy responses to radicalisation

Hisham on countering radicalisation
The notion of combating violent radicalisation I think is an idea that many around the world for very legitimate reasons are obviously very concerned about. And I think that it’s justified. I think that there needs to be a response. The question becomes then, however, the effectiveness of that response and the usefulness of that response. And if you see where a lot of this work is taking place, it’s taking place in Muslim majority societies because they’re the ones that are most affected.
So this whole idea by the way of why aren’t Muslims are doing more about extremism I think is rather ridiculous because they’re the ones that are affected the most and they’re the ones that are doing the most and they’re the ones that are actually losing lives and fighting against violent groups themselves. Or they’re victims far, far more than non-Muslims. Having said all of that, the approach from a number of different Muslim majority states is we will engage in our own counter narratives, and we will train imams to really push back against all of this sort of stuff. Now on one level, that seems to be quite logical.
But all of these imams and sheiks and so on, they’re going to be handicapped in terms of what they can do because their credibility among the target audience is going to be incredibly low because that target audience is going to be angry about a variety of different social and political issues that mainly come from where? They come from the state and from power. Yet these imams and sheiks who are being trained to push back against that, they’re not going to be saying anything about that because they can’t. They don’t exist in political contexts where it is possible for them to critique power on the contrary that if they were even to try, they’d probably get arrested.
So their credibility among the target audience is really shot before they even open their mouths. You have another example in a minority context this time where you have Muslim communities in the West and state governments are trying to push back against radicalisation narrative, so they push their own narratives. And then we get into a very interesting discussion about how much do they– how much does the state support civil society on the ground to get involved in this work, which I think is far more effective, and how much do they intervene themselves, which I think is less effective for similar reasons as compared to what we talked about earlier when it comes to states and Muslim majority countries.
And then we get into discussions around are those states focusing disproportionately on Muslim religious radicalisation or are they also focusing appropriately on the rise of far right extremism and populism, which is also a massive threat, and there are interesting discussions around that. So I think it’s really about establishing credibility as a prerequisite, but states don’t like– for obvious reasons, they don’t like to empower people who are then going to critique them. But the irony is that unless they do, the whole thing falls to pieces because then they won’t be taken seriously by the target audience.

In this audio interview Dr. Hisham Heyller provides his expert opinion on the existing tools on combating violent extremism with a few examples from Muslim majority states.

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Religion, Radicalisation, Resilience

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