Building Moderate Muslim Networks

[RAND Corporation] Angel Rabasa, Cheryl Benard, Lowell H. Schwartz, and Peter Sickle - Through the threat of violence, radical Islamists have intimidated or silenced moderate and liberal Muslims who espouse the key principles of democratic culture, including recognition of human rights, respect for diversity, acceptance of nonreligious sources of law, and opposition to terrorism. During the Cold War, the U.S. provided money and organization to foster the creation of democratic institutions that could contest Communist efforts to dominate European civil society. The U.S. government and its allies should make a clear decision to help build moderate Muslim networks and to create an explicit link between this goal and overall U.S. strategy. Five groups should be targeted as potential building blocks for networks: liberal and secular Muslim academics and intellectuals; young, moderate religious scholars; community activists; women's groups engaged in gender equality campaigns; and moderate journalists and writers. RAND proposes a shift of focus to regions of the Muslim world where greater freedom of action is possible, the environment is more open to activism and influence, and there is a greater likelihood of success, such as the Muslim diasporas in Europe, Muslims in Southeast Asia and Turkey, and some of the relatively more open societies in the Middle East. RAND recommends opening channels of communication that will encourage the dissemination of modern and mainstream interpretations of Islam back into the Middle East from moderate Muslims elsewhere.

2007-04-18 01:00:00

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