State Religious Institutions in the MENA: Can They Prevent Violent Radicalization?

Publication date:
07/2020
Author:
Patrycja Sasnal and Georges Fahmi
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EU-LISTCO Report nº 7 (july 2020)

In Egypt and Tunisia, where violent radicalization has increased in recent years, official religious institutions have been tasked by the governments with the mission of countering ‘deviant’ ideas by preaching ‘moderate’ Islam. In order for religious institutions to play a positive role in preventing violent radicalization, they should start by consolidating their status as legitimate religious actors independent of political authorities, and then compete with their ideas in a plural religious sphere, rather than impose them on Muslims as ‘the true Islam’. While the EU could encourage the political regimes in both countries to ensure the independence of these religious institutions, it should engage cautiously with state religious institutions so as to not unintentionally damage their legitimacy in the religious sphere.