Uncovering the roots of extremism

Uncovering the roots of extremism

Prevention of radicalization of muslims has been a topic of much debate in western politics, whether it be the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election or the many elections across Europe, where the migrant crisis is escalating. Most far-right populists have called for immigration bans and supervision of Muslim communities, while most liberals believe that there is little connection between Islam and extremism. Neither of these pose as a genuine solution to terrorism, nor do they fully demonstrate understanding of the motivations for why young men, who could have bright futures, leave their homes to go fight for the brutal, monstrous organization known as Islamic State (IS).

It is undeniable that the Quran, along with many other religious texts, have views that, by modern-day standards, would be unsavoury. However, ancient religious books are not the soul or initial cause of Islamic extremism. In the Middle East, the radical ideology was able to spread because of major political changes that have negatively affected many in the region.

Dissatisfaction with oppressive Arab dictatorships, which have since collapsed, have allowed for extremist ideologies to break chaos without a central authority to stop them. In Iraq, for example, where Saddam Hussein was in power until 2003, research by the U.S. Institute of Peace reported that a decline in government services and a sense of injustice amongst citizens, specifically during Hussein’s rule, had fueled support for violent radical groups. At the time, Hussein’s regime had violently suppressed action by such radical groups. However, after the collapse of the regime following a U.S./U.K. intervention, these groups proliferated due to a lack of central authority. Likewise, despite other religiously-related issues, Muslim-majority countries such as Indonesia, which are fully-functioning democracies, have an infinitely smaller problem with ISIS fighters, with barely one violent extremist coming from the country.

In the west, there are a multitude of causes of extremism and many are not what those in power, both on the left and right, suggest. While the far-right’s allegation that traditionalist Islamic beliefs (e.g. verses in the Quran and other religious texts) are the sole cause of extremism is ludicrous, the left’s assertion that it has “nothing to do with Islam” is also inaccurate. In fact, according to those who have been radicalized, it is isolated communities that have allowed violent crime and unsavoury, radical views to proliferate, leading to sympathy with extremism groups.

Some of the most economically deprived ethnic groups. According to the Muslim Council of Britain, 46 percent of British Muslims reside in the most deprived communities in the U.K. Isolated communities have lead to the spread of two main social pathologies: crime and radical ideology. According the Huffington Post, Muslims make up 15 percent of prison inmates, while being barely 5 percent of the U.K. population. Crime rates amongst men arriving from Muslim countries, specifically rape, is also quite high. Radical ideologies have also begun to proliferate in these communities – polling of communities that are over 20 percent Muslim confirms this. What is important to note, however, is that these views are not necessarily Islamic and cannot solely lead to radicalization.

In addition, known terrorists, including Omar Mateen, the Pace Nightclub Shooter in Florida, were alcoholics and addicted to drugs, both of which are violations of Islam. That said, according to a Channel 4 poll, 52 percent of British Muslims think homosexuality should be illegal, 39 percent said that women should always obey their husbands and 23 percent support the introduction of Sharia Law in parts of the U.K. Most troubling, however, is that 4 percent also sympathize with those who take place in suicide bombings.

These views, however, the Bible isn’t exactly a champion of social justice either. However, ‘radical Christianity’ is not a major issue right now because of the integration of Christians into society. We must now apply that to Muslims. In the Middle East, combating extremist groups militarily is necessary, the U.S./U.K./France Intervention in Syria is a step forward in that respect.

After the 2003 Iraq Intervention, the US was able to partner with the new Iraqi government to combat ISIS, and have since made substantial gains. This could also work in Syria with the removal of the Bashar al–Assad Regime. In the west, moderate immigration controls on the flow of refugees and economic migrants from Muslim-Majority countries are also necessary. This means increased vetting and limits on the amount of refugees allowed in, which is also necessary for economic reasons. Religiously-affiliated schools (not just Muslim ones) that are publicly funded should also be abolished and replaced. With regards to security, policing of areas with known terrorist activity should increase.

The problem with Islamic Extremism in both the West and Middle East is complex. The solution is equally challenging. However, by tackling issues with isolation within Muslim communities, allowing the spread of liberal, western values and continuing the offensive against ISIS, and those who defend them, in the Middle East, a world free of radicalism can be achieved.

Written by Staff Writer Ishaan Rahman 


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