Should we ‘ban’ Salafism? – Gurski

Good piece by Phil Gurski:

Truth be told, I am no fan of most Salafis (full disclosure: I am not Muslim so my views count for little). I happen to find them arrogant, intolerant and distrustful of Muslims who are not like them (this means most Muslims—look at the figure presented above: of an estimated 4.3 million Muslims in Germany, 10,000— i.e. less than one per cent—are Salafi). In the same way I have little time for fundamentalists of any religion, including my own. But, I don’t tell them how to pray and how to worship—that is not my job. Is the German government now the arbiter of Islam in Germany? Does it really want that job?

This is fraught with problems. Is anyone associated with the German government qualified to determine who is a Salafist and who isn’t? What about divisions within Salafism? Most reputable scholars recognize at least three divisions with only the third—the Salafi jihadis—as a group that must be opposed because they believe in the use of violence to get their way. If Germany cracks down on “Salafists,” whether or not they espouse violence, should it not also ban other fundamentalist groups (Jews, Christians, Hindus…)? If not, why not?

At the end of the day the people best placed to deal with Salafism, if we agree that it is a “problem,” are not those in government, but the communities where it has taken hold. They are the ones most affected by it and they are the ones criticized by those with more intolerant views. They have a vested interest in challenging this issue, not the state. If certain preachers advocate violence, then ban them.

Furthermore, and this is really important, just as there is not a direct correlation/causation between Islam and terrorism, nor is there one on every occasion between Salafi Islam and terrorism. Saying there is is disingenuous. Let’s not make the serious problem of terrorism bigger than it already is. The “escalator” model of terrorism (i.e. that there are concrete steps always present along the pathway to violent extremism) is a poor one and has never been shown to apply universally. This lack of certainty describes the relationship between Salafism and terrorism.

Canada’s 15th prime minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, famously said that the “state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.” Nor does it have a place in the mosques, pews, synagogues, temples or gurdwaras. If any of these places serve as hub or venue for conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, then that is a different story and the State does have both a right and a duty to get involved. Otherwise, it is wiser to stay out of that domain.

Source: Should we ‘ban’ Salafism? – The Hill Times – The Hill Times

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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