The Society for Policy Studies organized a Round-Table discussion on the theme, “Reason behind Islamic Terrorism and when and how it would end” at the India International Centre on May 24, 2016. Addressing a gathering of domain experts and thought leaders who maintain a keen interest in the theme and allied concerns, this informal conversation was led by Dr. Susmit Kumar, President, Kumar Consultancy, US.
Tracing the origins of the radical avatar that Islam as a religion has come to assume, Dr. Kumar in his address observed that the rise of Islamic militancy has been a result of both the adventurous and short-term policies of the United States as also the domestic make up of the countries in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region. Riddled with faultlines of varying kinds, the geo-strategic significance of this part of the world, both as the seat of Islam as well as a hub for important resources and gateways for sea lanes, have ensured that the MENA region figures prominently in American foreign policy which, in many ways, has backfired in disastrous ways.
Dr. Kumar maintained that while there continues to be an intricate association between education and extremism, it is becoming easier to indoctrinate even the educated minds thanks to the proliferation of propagandist material on social media. Also, he noted that the notion of ‘clash of civilizations’ is mis-founded since the rise and fall of Islam will follow the same historical patterns as other established religions have.
Speaking as a discussant, Lt. Gen. Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd.) began his address reminding the audience about the 22-minute long video that had surfaced recently, highlighting the plans of the ISIS to expand into India. His main concern, among other things, had been the rising radicalization of the Muslim youth in the country. He maintained that the fight against Islamic extremism has to be fought on many fronts, including on social media which has been a much used and abused platform for radical indoctrination. He said the creation of ISIS was not just a consequence of misguided US policies but a failure of proper conflict-stabilization mechanisms.
He also spoke about the many surrogates that are emerging in South Asia to help ISIS infiltrate into the region, and mentioned that it is the Muslim populace in India’s southern region that needs to be de-radicalized especially since they are the ones who have been the most exposed to radical Islamic ideology courtesy their stay in the Gulf states.
Closing the session, Cmde C Uday Bhaskar, Director, SPS mentioned that the internal churning of Islam which is currently being witnessed will be a long drawn process, but whose net result at the end will be a stabilized religion like other canonical religions.