Muslim woman smiling

The Education Antidote to Radicalization

The fight against the Islamic State is a generational battle for hearts and minds that cannot be won by military means alone. Sadly, the West’s current response – more intrusive surveillance, shoot-to-kill policies, and disgraceful rhetoric by political leaders – merely provides ISIS with more ammunition to recruit young Muslims.

DUBAI – No visitor to the Middle East can avoid noticing the yawning gap between the educational, entrepreneurial, and occupational aspirations of the region’s young people and the harsh reality that deprives so many of them of a positive future. Indeed, in the Middle East, half of those aged 18-25 are either unemployed or underemployed.

Aggravating this situation is the global refugee crisis, which has displaced some 30 million children, six million from Syria alone, very few of whom are likely to return home during their school-age years. It should come as no surprise that the group known in the region as Daesh (the Islamic State) believes that it can find fertile ground for recruitment in this vast population of dispossessed and disaffected young people.

Daesh propagandists are misusing social media in the way that their extremist predecessors and contemporaries have sometimes misused mosques – as a forum for radicalization. The group consistently posts content that challenges the possibility of coexistence between Islam and the West and calls young people to jihad.

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