Many Arabs Now Reject Religious Extremism

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The popularity of Muslim religious extremist groups will decline over the next 10 years in the Arab world. That is what a substantial number of respondents predict for their home country in a YouGov poll on “Mosque and state: How Arabs see the future,” conducted across 18 countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
As part of its partnership with the Arab Strategy Forum, Arab News commissioned the survey of the views and concerns of Arabs today, and their projections for the future of the region. A total of 3,079 Arabic speakers aged 18 or above were interviewed. One of the strongest messages conveyed by the study was that the Arab world has had enough of extremist Islamist groups and political organizations based on religion, with substantial combined averages believing their home country would see less of these groups over the next 10 years.
“Without a doubt, the region is falling behind because of persistent violence and conflict,” said Dr. Albadr Al-Shateri, politics professor at the National Defense College in Abu Dhabi. “That the people are sick and tired of extremism is obvious enough. The region is facing a real crisis in terms of development and governance. Revisiting old issues repeatedly will not solve the problems.”
His sentiments were echoed by Dr. Abdul Khaleq Abdulla, former chairman of the Arab Council for Social Sciences, who says the Middle East has had enough of extremism, with Arabs having realized that political parties, groups and organizations based on religion were “taking them nowhere.” “Indeed, we have seen the ugly face of it during the four to five years of Daesh’s control of large areas, both in Syria and Iraq,” he said. “So it is very natural to see there is a decline in the popularity of these parties. But much more important are the predictions that support for religious parties, whether moderate or extremist, is in sharp decline.” Abdulla said: “People are becoming aware that there has been some kind of abuse and overuse of people’s emotions for political gains by these religious movements,” he said.
After the failure of extremist governments or parties across the region, Michael Singh, managing director at the Washington Institute, says it is little surprise that public opinion has soured. “Nevertheless, violent extremist groups continue to grow across the region, as do incidents of terrorism,” he told Arab News. “These survey results suggest that governments will have the public on their side if they wish to defeat extremism, but doing so will require addressing some of its underlying causes, such as the lack of political space for dissent, abuse by security forces, or a sense of economic unfairness and corruption. “Too often, governments in the region have cynically brandished extremist groups to discredit all political opposition, a practice which only contributed to radicalization.”
(Extracted from arabnews.com)