Saturday October 16, 2021

Afkar-e-Taza ThinkFest: ‘Radicalisation has more to do with social inequality than ideology’

September 13, 2021
Afkar-e-Taza ThinkFest: ‘Radicalisation has more to do with social inequality than ideology’

LAHORE: ‘Radicalisation has more to do with social inequality than ideology’, said Dr Tahir Abbas from Leiden University.

According to a press release Sunday, speaking at Afkar-e-Taza ThinkFest conversations online with analyst Azeema Cheema, Dr Tahir Abbas explained how polarisation and social exclusion are at the root of radicalisation around the world.

“Ideology is certainly a pull factor, but the push factors are inequalities, and once they are addressed, radicalisation will come down,” he explained. Giving an example, Dr Abbas noted that magazine of the so-called Islamic State is published in 26 languages: ‘Most of the topics covered there are about how Muslim youth in the West feel disempowered — that is the central issue,’ he maintained. Despite mounting evidence of factors other than ideology being more important the ‘state and the political elite are in denial,’ exclaimed Dr Abbas.

“In fact, even the media, especially the West, wants to keep framing the issue as an ideological one for its own benefit,” he noted. “Capitalism needs an “other” and so it is easy to frame it in ideological term,” Dr Abbas emphasised.

He then gave the example of the Quilliam Institute in the UK, which was set up by ‘ex-radicals’ but has now floundered, since by simply creating “performers” who are supposed to have been, “cured” the state cannot absolve itself of its responsibility of combating exclusion.

“The Quilliam Institute was a wedge between the UK government and the people, and it failed to address the real issues,” noted Abbas. Asked by Azeema Cheema about what policy mechanisms need to be built for inclusion, Dr Abbas said first “there cannot be a predetermined outcome of interventions”. Secondly, we need to build societies from the bottom up and address issues of racism, equal opportunity and access. Thirdly, we need to treat people like human beings.

Often de-radicalisation programmes treat issues like education, jobs and a decent livelihood as some sort of a “reward” for de-radicalisation, or as “countering violent extremism” measures when they are the right of all human beings and should be present regardless, he insisted.

When asked by Azeema Cheema about different forms of radicalisation around the world, Abbas emphasised that radicalisation is now patent in a number of societies. Take the example of Hindutva in India, or particular nationalist views in Israel, both are racist and exclusionary and creating deep fissures in their societies, he noted.

Asks about radicalisation in Europe, Abbas said it is not Islamic radicalisation which is the main problem in Europe now, but far-right radicalisation which is Europe’s biggest threat. Just last month two plots by far right radicals were thwarted in the UK alone, showing that it is an increasing threat in Europe, and must be tackled, Abbas concluded.