Due to the similarities in recruitment, propaganda and ideology between anti-Muslim and Islamist extremism, we at Quilliam believe it is important for pro-democracy and anti-extremism activists to build effective trans-national networks in order to counter the threat posed by all forms of extremism. These networks should promote liberal democratic values and an inclusive sense of citizenship, enabling people from all backgrounds to feel accepted with their rights and responsibilities being respected and acknowledged. One such example of this is Quilliam’s role on the steering committee for ‘The Formers’ network which emerged out of a summit held in Dublin in June 2011. The summit was co-organised by GoogleIdeas, Council on Foreign Relations and Tribeca Film Festival. It bought together former far-right and Islamist activists, as well as other former extremists, in order to share experiences and discuss solutions to common problems.
Traditionally, sections of the political left have not done enough to challenge Islamism yet, encouragingly, they have challenged anti-Muslim extremism. Similarly, sections of the political right have been reluctant to challenge far-right extremism yet willing to challenge Islamism. We can only move forward when all forms of extremism are challenged by activists from across the political spectrum. We must also remember that just as one who challenges far-right extremism is obviously not anti-Christian, one who challenges Islamism is not necessarily anti-Islam. And just as Christianity must not take the blame for Breivik’s rambling references to it, Islam must not take the blame for Jihadists’ rambling references to it. A closer examination reveals that Breivik was no Christian fundamentalist. In fact, not being very devout – like Islamists – Breivik was using Christianity to forge a new theo-political identity in reaction to what he believed were the threats of globalisation. Governments should also re-assess the threat that anti-Muslim extremists pose and develop a clear workable strategy to counter this rising threat, just as they have done for Islamism.
In light of the above, we have published a Concept Paper. This Paper aims to explore the symbiotic relationship between anti-Muslim and Islamist extremists and help activists, policy-makers and observers to better understand and counter extremism in all its forms. The following quote, taken from Anders Behring Breivik’s 1518 page manifesto, encapsulates the symbiotic relationship that exists between anti-Muslim and Islamist extremists; “An alliance with the Jihadists might prove beneficial to both parties but will simply be too dangerous (and might prove to be ideologically counter-productive). We both share one common goal”.
Download the Concept Paper by Maajid Nawaz as a PDF here.