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Islamophobia and ‘grey’ radicalism

Expecting civic concepts from radical elements is like expecting a rabbit to come out of a hat

Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran

Published: Updated:

Theoretically, expecting civic concepts from radical elements is like expecting a rabbit to come out of a hat. Let us not forget that radical thinking has the ability to change shape and form to stay alive.

Since radical organizations operate at various levels and resort to various kinds of violence, the rise of ISIS has pushed other militant groups to desert political pragmatism and have started revamping its message.

Those organizations cannot reform their ranks while guarding “the imaginer of civism” which is the overarching concept of totalitarian parties. Olivier Roy describes it as “the catastrophic imaginer”, which you cannot eliminate by few civic words.

On June 2, American journalist David Ignatius wrote an article entitled “The Islamic State feeds off Western Islamophobia.”

He referred to a report by Lapis Communications, a Middle East-based consulting firm, which explains why Islamophobia helps jihadists: “Instead of undercutting recruiting, it pumps value into the brand. We are dealing primarily with the adolescent mindset.”

If European countries bet on ‘grey’ Islamic movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood, they will be trying to integrate totalitarian parties for the sake of including them in the war on ISIS

Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran

He added: “Lapis cites statistics that 90 percent of jihadists today are under 25. These militant youths want to see things in black and white. The only antidote, argues Lapis, is “the grey” of social compromise and tolerance, of nuanced and considered thoughts.”

However, using this approach to undercut the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) may bolster other dangerous groups that use deception to seem less radical.

Failed approach

During the Forum for Arab and International Relations in Doha in April, author Mohammad al-Arnaout summarized 26 papers on “Islamophobia between imagination and reality.”

These papers solidified the idea that Islamophobia was caused by violent movements and bombings in London, Madrid, Paris, Brussels and elsewhere. Some at the forum defended the ‘grey solution’ that Ignatius referred to.

The problem, however, is that radicalism of whatever shade opposes reality, rejects altruism and monopolizes the public space. If European countries bet on ‘grey’ Islamic movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood, they will be trying to integrate totalitarian parties for the sake of including them in the war on ISIS.

This is the peak of failure. Terrorism is like a tree – one cannot rely on the branches to kill the trunk. Islamophobia is the product of terrorism.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Jun. 09, 2016.
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Fahad Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Alarabiya.net, among others. He also blogs on philosophies, cultures and arts. He tweets @shoqiran.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.