Extremism is not about Muslims: ways to fight it

This phenomenon doesn't depend on any religion, nationality, region nor ethnic group. 

Islamic extremism that leads to terrorism has caused a wave of Islamophobia specially in the western countries. The Islamic State has become a threat to the world, by imposing their regime in the territories of Syria and Iraq, and committing the Brussels and Paris attacks.

They are driven by an interpretation of Islam which considers the sharia (Islamic law) to be the  system to reign all aspects of their life.

Despite being a minority within the Muslim world population, and Muslims themselves being the vast majority of victims, western countries have seen the rise of right-wing parties and their exclusive views as a response to the threats extremists pose.

But extremism doesn't began nor extends only among Muslims. It can be seen around the world taking different names and creating violence against certain populations.

As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon  said while addressing the Geneva conference on Preventing Violent Extremism, this phenomenon "is not rooted or confined to any religion, region, nationality or ethnic group".

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines extremism as "belief in and support for ideas that are very far from what most people consider correct or reasonable"

Following this, the rise of Europe's far right can be also considered as extreme, as their views attempt to exclude the refugee population, and make each nation great again. The French Front National, German Alternative for Germany (AFD) and Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) are some examples.

More so, even GOP candidate Donald Trump can be considered as such, with his anti immigration and Muslim ban proposals. He has been considered by The Economist Investigation Unit as a global threat scoring 12 out of their 25 point ranking.

According to Counter Extremism Project (CEP), "whether their gains are achieved by force, terror or politics, by undermining modern pluralistic societies, or by creating extremist states, these groups impose an insidious ideology, give sanction to violence, reject basic human rights, and suppress economic and social progress."

More explicit examples explored by the CEP besides The Islamic State are:

The Ku Klux Klan "KKK", the oldest hate group in the United States. Although its power has declined, and has divided into different fractions in the last two years it has returned to the public knowledge, after the Frazier Glenn Cross case in Kansas.

The National Democratic Party of Germany, a political party following neo-fascist, neo-Nazi and ultra nationalistic views. It is a far-right political party which advocates for racism and anti-Semitic views. Recently it has expressed hostility against Muslims too, by proposing to deport immigrants as a measure to protect the German ethnic community.

Movement for a better Hungary JOBBIK is a political party with neo-Nazi, neo-fascist extremist Christian views. It describes itself as a "conservative radically patriotic Christian party" which aims to protect the Hungarian values and interests. It considers Jews and Gypsies to be their main threat.

Other groups studied by the CEP include the Golden Dawn, Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Nusra front, the Muslim Brotherhood, Boko Haram and Al Qaeda among others.

Negative media campaigns are also fueling extremist views, as a hate speech is broadcasted from each side. Also social media has become a mean to share and expand this closed minded ideas, used as recruitment tools and creating an echo chamber for people society to become more divided.

"The objective of extremists is for us to turn on each other [and] our unity is the ultimate rebuke for that bankrupt strategy," said SG Ban Ki-moon.

Fighting extremism, regardless which, requires unity and global collaboration.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) agreed to establish stronger relations with the international community to "establish stronger cross cultural and religious ties as a counterweight to polarizing sentiment against religious minorities.”

They highlight the need of encouraging tolerance, moderation, mutual respect and peaceful coexistence. Women empowerment has been also considered as an option to fight extremism both by the UN and the OIC.

Lastly, media shouldn't be a mean to replicate extremist views. By the contrary, it should focus on what's important for the public interest while keeping objective takes on everyday events. More so, media shouldn’t incite to any form of violence.  

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