Motahare Hosseini

Solution to Religious Extremism in the Middle East and Central Asia

Date of publication : October 7, 2016 13:25 pm
Yazidi refugees celebrate news of the liberation of their homeland of Sinjar from ISIL extremists, while at a refugee camp on November 13, 2015 in Derek, Rojava, Syria
Yazidi refugees celebrate news of the liberation of their homeland of Sinjar from ISIL extremists, while at a refugee camp on November 13, 2015 in Derek, Rojava, Syria

In an atmosphere of ideological and material impoverishment leading to massive identity crisis and unbridgeable economic gaps in different parts of the Islamic world and the Middle East, Western civilization has entered these regions by eliminating the indigenous culture and religion, through which modernity was introduced along with large economic gaps in the society. On the other hand, the world and Western identities fail to answer the identity questions raised by the old and new generations of the Muslim world and the Middle East. The only unified ideology spreading the message of resistance against class divisions is "Islam" which has attacked manifestations of identity and economic gaps as well as cultural, moral and religious crises.
This monolithic ideology includes a range of radical, liberal and very liberal forces to moderate forces. One of the main problems is that the West and Russia’s policies have, intentionally or unintentionally, discredited the moderate line of this movement, making it underprivileged or dismantling it, while at the same time, they try to deal with fundamentalism by confronting radical Islamism more seriously and comprehensively or supporting the liberal minority. Consequently, everywhere, one can witness the rise of fundamentalism and collapse of Islamic civil society in which moderate and liberal factions have emerged. In other words, the Christians have weakened the internal apparatus arising from within their own community against fundamentalists and draw fundamentalism into a direct scene of invasion and war.
As a result, the middle class in Muslim countries fall victim in its worst form. For example, due to the destruction wrought by the war and economic sanctions on the middle class in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Chechnya, Yemen, Afghanistan and the neighboring regions, the rise of these classes is difficult and time-consuming. It is at this point that fundamentalism is established and gathers power and, as in the case of Pakistan and Afghanistan, is so widely spread in the society that it became the main discourse or the discourse-making force in the society and it seems virtually impossible to remove or deal or adjust it.
In this respect, the true solution is not direct confrontation with fundamentalism or promotion of a particular version of Islam (state Islam), but promotion of civil society and the middle class who are able to produce and spread good versions of moderate Islamic existence in an atmosphere of economic well-being (at least reduced poverty), the least freedom, and the protection of basic human rights. This is more economic than armed, security-oriented and state-oriented conflict. However, the problem remains that the companies and the forces involved in Middle East tensions cease to gain their interests. The fact is that it seems as serious and well-founded that much of the tension in the Middle East goes hand in hand with a profit for certain political, military and financial groups and corporations, as these tensions are squarely in favor of fundamentalist forces and their political, armed and financial lobbies.

Motahare Hosseini, an assistant professor at University of Payam Noor, is the senior expert on the Eurasian Affairs.

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