Moderate Salafism and the Challenge of De-Radicalization. The Case of Pakistan

by Husnul Amin,

It is generally taken for granted that Salafism is inherently a violent ideology and socialpolitical trajectory. Seen as a globally homogenous phenomenon, the possibility of a moderate trend within Salafism is generally ruled out. Consequently, adherents of the Salafi ideology are not seen as part of the solution to tackling extremism and radicalism. The current research paper brings this widely held belief into question from several grounds. It does so by identifying the prevalence of diversity rather than homogeneity in the Salafist social trajectory in Pakistan and beyond. Further, the research more specifically highlights the body of moderate Salafi activists and their social networks promoting an alternative worldview to those of violent extremists. Moreover, the research suggests ways and means of broader social engagement of moderate Salafists as partners in peace building, violence prevention and the further strengthening of the current de-radicalization programs in Pakistan. The prevalence of multiple strands of Salafism (rather than singular/homogenous) offers an opportunity, and may therefore be (re)conceptualized as part of the solution of the most daunting challenge Pakistan is confronted with. The argument made here further strengthens the stream of studies conducted on inclusion-moderation hypothesis (tested for various Islamist movements across the globe). Through their inclusion in the de-radicalization process, the Salafists will not only further moderate their radical positions but will also contribute to the intellectual and social resources needed for the de-radicalization project. The research therefore suggests that policy makers and implementers may look beyond the Salafi textual surface and militant-Salafist variety, and concentrate on competing social-political practices.

published in Vol 17 - No 1 - 2017 // General issue
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Advisory Board

  • Larry Diamond Stanford University
  • Tom Gallagher University of Bradford
  • Alena Ledeneva University College London
  • Michael McFaul Stanford University
  • Philippe Schmitter Stanford University
  • Helen Wallace London School of Economics and Political Science

Published by:

Societatea Academica Romana