SHAFAQNA Round Table – Dr Riaz Karim & Reverend Nadim Nassar

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SHAFAQNA – The root cause of terrorism and how to best denounce it as a global threat? A polarized debate about the underlying causes of violent extremism in the Islamic world has taken place among western policymakers, analysts, and academics ever since the cataclysmic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Broadly speaking, two major views have emerged. In one camp, the center-left maintains that the struggle against the root causes of terrorism should prioritize social and economic development. Inspired by modernization theory, this camp sees social and economic development as the precursor of democratization. It also considers educational and economic empowerment as the best antidote against radicalization and terrorist recruitment. Since poverty and ignorance often provide a breeding ground for radicalism, socioeconomic development appears compelling as an effective antidote. This correlation between socioeconomic deprivation and terrorism is strongly rejected by a second group of analysts. Their logic is simple: most terrorists are neither poor nor uneducated. In fact, the majority seem to come from middle class, ordinary backgrounds. Terrorism is therefore perceived almost exclusively as a ‘security threat’ with no discernible socio- economic roots or links with deprivation. Not surprisingly, this second group de nes the ght against Islamist terrorism with a single-minded focus on state actors, jihadist ideology, counter-intelligence, and coercive action. But before we can consider how best to address Terror we ought to consider NOT its underpinning but its ideological motivation or motivations. In other word, is Terror anchored in Islam? Especially if we consider that Muslims most of all have suffered under its rule.

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