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Why Reforming Islam to Fight Violent Extremism is a Bad Idea

EXPERT COMMENT

The idea that reforming Islam is necessary to fight violent extremism not only misses the point about violent extremism and the nature of Islam itself but is in fact counterproductive to this very aim.

Following a resurgence of Islamist terrorism over the past five years, French President Emmanuel Macron has called for the reform of Islam in France. He wants to build an ‘Islam of Enlightenment’, a project which would include training for imams that combines knowledge about Islam with the values of the Enlightenment, as well as in-depth teaching of progressive Muslim thinkers such as Averroes and Ibn Khaldun from the 12th and 14th centuries. The French government’s plan also coincides with calls for reform of the Islamic tradition in Muslim societies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Underpinning these calls is the argument that reforming Islam is necessary to fight violent extremism. What is problematic is that the idea of reforming Islam not only misses the point about violent extremism and the multivocal nature of Islam itself, but is counterproductive to this very aim.

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Original article link: https://www.chathamhouse.org/2020/11/why-reforming-islam-fight-violent-extremism-bad-idea

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