Political Islam not a threat to the West

Political Islam not a threat to the West

In a closely-fought session of the Doha Debates yesterday, a majority of the participants rejected the idea that political Islam poses a threat to the West.


The motion supporting this argument was narrowly defeated with 51 percent of the participants voting against.

Those opposing the motion argued against equating political Islam with some extremist outfits in the Islamic world and putting all exponents of the ideology into a single category. The other side maintained that the political interpretation of Islam has led to emergence of Jihadist movements in the Islamic world as well as the West and this has become a real threat to the western societies.

“We are not against Muslims participating in politics. We are against politicising Islam or any other religion with a pre-defined ideology that preaches hatred against other communities and divide the society on sectarian lines,” said Majid Nawaz, director of the UK-based Quillam Foundation, while speaking for the motion.

A former member of the Hizb ul Tahrir movement that advocated extremist ideas, Majid recalled how he walked away from the movement and ended up as a vehement critic of Islamism.

Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Project on Middle East Democracy who spoke against the motion said extremist outfits like Hizb ul Tahrir was not representative of political Islam.

Mainstream Islamist movements like Muslim Brotherhood have been renouncing violence and have become more willing to accept the principles of democracy and the rights of minorities in an Islamic society.

Speaking for the motion, Yahya Pallavicini, Italian Imam and government adviser said political Islam has emerged from a misinterpretation of Islam and has been misleading the young Muslim generations. It is promoting an artificial society and dehumanises people of other faiths, he argued.

Sara Joseph, editor of the Muslim lifestyle magazine Al Emel, who joined Hamid in opposing the motion appealed the audience to reject the motion because “it reduces the whole issue into a simple binary struggle between Islam and the West.”

Politics and religion are interconnected and leaders like Gandhi and Desmond Tutu have recognised this fact. Politics is an integral part of Islam and political Islam per se does not pose a threat to any society, she argued.

The audience comprised a number of delegates attending the World Leaders of Tomorrow conference and many of them contributed to the debate through their interventions during the question-answer session.