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Ex-Islamic radicals on what motivates -- and impedes -- extremism

Why are such glaring truths about the effects of our policies continuously ignored?

The British journalist Johann Hari has written an absolutely vital article for The Independent, examining a growing movement of former hardened Islamic militants who are now devoted to teaching a more moderate and less fundamentalist Islam. Hari focuses on understanding what motivates some Muslims to turn to radicalism and terrorism in the first place, and how that process can be reversed. Though these ex-militants have very diverse backgrounds, they all stress two critical facts: (1) the more the foreign policy of the West is seen as aggressive, violent and oppressive to the Muslim world, the easier it is to convert Muslims to violent radicalism, and (2) the most potent weapon for undermining Islamic extremism is the efforts of Westerners to work against their own governments' belligerent policies:

To my surprise, the ex-jihadis said their rage about Western foreign policy -- which was real, and burning -- emerged only after their identity crises, and as a result of it. They identified with the story of oppressed Muslims abroad because it seemed to mirror the oppressive disorientation they felt in their own minds. . . .

But once they had made that leap to identify with the Umma – the global Muslim community -- they got angrier the more abusive our foreign policy came. Every one of them said the Bush administration's response to 9/11 -- from Guantanamo to Iraq -- made jihadism seem more like an accurate description of the world. Hadiya Masieh, a tiny female former HT organiser, tells me: "You'd see Bush on the television building torture camps and bombing Muslims and you think -- anything is justified to stop this. What are we meant to do, just stand still and let him cut our throats?"

But the converse was -- they stressed -- also true. When they saw ordinary Westerners trying to uphold human rights, their jihadism began to stutter. Almost all of them said that they doubted their Islamism when they saw a million non-Muslims march in London to oppose the Iraq War: "How could we demonise people who obviously opposed aggression against Muslims?" asks Hadiya.

continue reading here
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2009/11/16...



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Great find

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