Let’s tap into Islam’s heritage of critical education to defeat extremism in schools

The policy response to the threat of radicalisation has focused on law, security and intelligence. As the problem spirals out of control, this one-dimensional response, which includes the government’s Prevent policy in schools, seems merely to be repeated more aggressively.

Applying security and surveillance policy across society not only risks limiting civil liberties, but also isolating mainstream Muslims. This does not counter the manipulative interpretation of Islam being used by extremists to play upon grievances held by some Muslims.

A sensible alternative is a long-term educational policy that would support Muslim communities to address the rise of religious extremism in their midst. Since 9/11, official counter-terrorism policy has largely been determined by right- and left-leaning thinktanks. Rightwing pundits tend to explain Islamic extremism by the supposed inability of Islam to reform itself, together with Muslims’ unwillingness to integrate into wider society.

Analysts on the left try to understand extremist action as a political struggle that has almost nothing to do with religion. While the former avoids sharing responsibility for addressing the root causes of the problem, the latter dismisses the possibility that a form of theology defines the central ideology of Islamic extremism. [599 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 140 votes] And exactly what parts of The Koran and the Hadith are actually open to criticism?

This is the fundamental problem with Islam in the Western world. Muslims believe that Islam is the perfect solution for humanity. Perfection cannot, by definition, be criticised. It is extremely, extremely difficult to have a sensible, objective discussion with people on a topic, if that is their starting point.

[2ND 124] By all means, but let us not pander to the out-of-date aspects of religion, particularly those which clash with secular law. Equal rights for women is the law. Medieval dress codes for women are not. The interpretation of the religion must be brought up to date to take account of modern knowledge and customs. It cannot be allowed to impose social customs and legal traditions from the 8th century in the Middle East as the norm for the 21st century in the Western world.

[3RD 111] Unmitigated sophistry, coming from a religion that punishes, or even executes, apostates.

For this country to move forward and embrace true integration, we must become secular and remove all religious influence from our laws and schools.

Superstition has no place in the classroom. [The Guardian] Read more

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