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Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

Guest Edited by Professor Bruce Hoffman

Sir John Jenkins
Farah Pandith
Dr Emman El-Badawy
Jamie Bartlett
Ian Acheson
Professor Jytte Klausen
Dr Kim Cragin

January 2019


Extremism based on a perversion of the religion of Islam—the turning of religious belief into a totalitarian political ideology—remains the most potent global security threat.

These essays are the first of a series of publications from the Institute in 2019. In combination, we want our work to show how the roots of the extremism go back not over centuries but over the past half century or more. This warping of Islam is not part of the traditional and historical
nature of Islam; it is a comparatively recent phenomenon. However, though we in the West tend to see it through the prism of 9/11 and what followed from that, the reality is that it began many years before, in the 20th century.

We will explore the huge significance of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, how it triggered a reaction in the Sunni world; and the importance of the development of organisations like the Muslim Brotherhood in creating a coherent narrative of how religion should dominate and determine political structure. As events today in the Sahel and Southeast Asia show, the challenge is not confined to the Middle East.

Each of the other essays represents an attempt to reshape the conversation around extremism.  We have brought together leading experts in the counter-extremism and security fields to present a clear diagnosis of the problem, as well as some areas where policymakers need to focus.