Talking with the Muslim World

“The struggle against terrorism in the Middle East has led to a quest to find ways to counter the appeal of violent extremists. Thus far, US counter-messaging has failed to articulate a normative position that is responsive to the deeply-held beliefs of the majority of the world’s Muslims. To form a sounder approach, one must acknowledge that there are two fundamentally different interpretations of Islam, both of which are supported by a close reading of the Qur’an and major texts. This chapter shows that the promotion of secular liberal ideals—human rights, democracy, free markets, etc.—is not a suitable response to extremist messaging because while most Muslims are not extreme, they are also not liberal. It then explains the reasons behind the US’s previous failure to clearly articulate its message. The chapter finally raises the question of which messenger is best equipped to promote the normative message and what steps are required to lift the chosen agent to the needed scale…”

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