Facing extremism means facing a generation that has deviated towards extremism without insight as a result of the chaotic conditions that society has been going through. Taking that into account, the generation is seized by radical organizations that attract it to their ranks. Therefore, the amount of damage caused by this generation has to be reduced by working on limiting the space in which their ideas spread, as its owners imagine that it is a lifeline to bring them to the shore of safety, however, it is exactly the darkest point in the equation.
Stripping down the extremist discourse starts with creating intellectual mechanisms that evaluate the reasons that led individuals to join this path. This would be better if we wanted to reduce the number of adherents to radical streams until the issue becomes related only to the individual, i.e., reaching the stage of eliminating the idea of extremism and its impact in creating groups that see only violence as a way to solve issues. In order to reach this situation, there are many solutions but all require first and foremost a realistic interpretation of the societies, in which extremism grows. This would require us to involve experts in local sociology to study the civil reality and extremist phenomena before moving on to hypothetical solutions. The issue is not a type of bacteria that can be treated in a laboratory. It is rather a complex social reality, jointly made by state and regime, in addition to the tribe, the family, the book and the school, let alone the nature of social and productive relationships and the level of development of production and many things before its appearance as extremist.
There is a big mistake in understanding the equation between stripping down the extremists’ discourse and confronting them. The issue of confronting extremism means relying on legal and field security solutions in the first place. It has become an existing case that should be dealt with immediately in order to preserve the protection of society and state.
As for stripping down the extremist discourse, it is a completely different topic, because it requires striving to prevent the completion of this cycle of extremism inside the civil environment. This means preventing the circumstances and societal conditions from creating the conditions that work, to supply the extremist stream with the human element, including the small community of “the family”
Negatives of media in confronting extremism discourse
The loud media discourse directed towards refuting the very idea of extremism must leave the political interests’ game and make sure that no discourse of any group exists in its discourse. When dismantling the extremist discourse turns into a discourse of confrontation against a particular group in the media, this would give a particular group more space to spread and expand, and turn the media into an indirect supportive discourse for extremists.
The conflict between the media in the indirect support for extremism!
After the horrifying events of 9/11, we have seen a great split in the Arab media discourse, both official and unofficial. The official media shyly condemned those actions, with a clear tone of slander from the US. A large segment of the unofficial Arab media went towards the logic of justification, linking the events of 9/11 with internal and external causes and factors, also the Palestinian question was thrown into this debate. This hypothesis contributed to strengthening the presence of political Islam in Palestine and gave Iran a wide dimension to infiltrate the Arab region as the first Islamic project that turned into a state in the modern era.
The political conflict between different countries regarding their political agendas has contributed to investing their political differences in a kind of promotion of extremist discourse under the pretext of opinion and the opposite opinion, blaming this or that country for being the main incubator of extremism. The result was that extremist groups capitalized on those differences to expand socially and get provided with different types of support, not to mention the popular mood, which was unaware of the results of its sympathy with jihadists, as the people were resentful of US policy in particular and Western policy in general.
International conferences to stand against extremism, but without social and cultural benefit!
The United Nations General Assembly, at its seventieth session, launched a “Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism”. The report of the Secretary-General stated the following essential points:
- Addressing the conditions conducive to terrorism
- Preventing and combating terrorism
- Building countries’ capacities to combat terrorism and strengthening the role of the United Nations in this regard
- Ensuring respect for human rights for all people
The report adds a fundamental and important point, as during the past decade there has been a strong focus on the second bullet point, while the first and fourth have often been ignored.
The security aspects were also not absent during the UN session, which identified that dealing with extremism and eliminating, warding off its dangers from society should focus on three directions: the multi-faceted security fight, intellectual treatment with wise methods to nullify false religious beliefs and the false judicial arguments on which extremism is based on, together with a renewal of education curricula.
The report of the UN General Assembly, the importance and the accuracy of the observations made in it, in addition to the conferences we reviewed that were held in our miserable East, being the main source of extremism and terrorism today, all this touched the scene partially, and it is closer to just mentioning some of the causes that increase the phenomenon of extremism. However, a careful dismantling of the phenomenon of extremism comes when discussing the issue from its aspects for the society.
The Iranian paradigm’s role in the revival of a culture of extremism
The issue of the state based on religion ended in Europe centuries ago and religious wars went with it. In the Islamic East, it has just begun. Now there is a religious state called Iran that shouts day and night to defeat America and annihilate Israel. It is a state that has been able to expand its military influence and start down the path of producing nuclear weapons. The Sunni Islamist groups imitated the Iranian example to be feasible. Hence, we are faced with a very difficult equation. Between the legitimacy of imitating the Iranian example and the impossibility of achieving it due to complex international circumstances, on the one hand, and the pattern of what the modern citizenship state should be like on the other hand.
The idea of cloning the Iranian Shiite Islamist model has become encouraging for currents to redo it, but with a Sunni Islamist version in some troubled countries, especially since the world has not sanctioned Iran in a timid manner, it did not significantly affect Iran’s expansion internally and externally. Rather, the world dealt with Iran in several issues as a state, although its media discourse is against Iran’s policy, and this gave the new Sunni Islamists a wide space of imagination that their next state will impose itself with the logic of fait accompli, as Iran did.
Where does the dismantling of extremism discourse begin?
It is necessary to shift the religious discourse towards the concept of interest, which means not directly confronting the theses of extremism and going to a completely different approach that presents the concept of interest in Islam and the extent of the damages resulting from work and its opposite. When going to refute the theses of the jihadists and dismantle their discourse, we find that they evoke many texts and reinterpret them to satisfy their audience, but they do not have the ability to deny the discourse of interest, which is above all considerations. The discourse of interest or the revival of the jurisprudence of interest and purposes with its modernization makes the idea of a religious state fall out of mind.
As for the political and security aspect, the partisan relationship with Iran must be prohibited, since it is a country working to export the revolution. This criminalization is very important because it drops the idea of religious reference for all Islamic movements.
If the state wanted to improving the social conditions of its citizens, would its model in our countries be able to bring about such social changes? Otherwise, it would only cost the state to fall into the trap of democracy that it is escaping from, as if it were a deadly and terrifying virus.
The issue of combating terrorism and dismantling the extremist discourse is primarily an intellectual, educational and cultural issue. Enlightenment efforts need an important aid provided by the state in order to achieve social justice in the East. With these two basic factors in mind, the birth of terrorist organizations can be prevented and the rhetoric of extremism can be stifled, so that it does not reproduce again.
All publishing rights and copyrights reserved to MENA Research and Study Center.