The Compass

The Battle of Ideas - Part Two

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Kevin Connolly travels to Morocco, which sees itself as a beacon of moderate Islam, to visit the institute for training imams, which has been set up to create a new generation of Islamic teachers and leaders from the West African states of Nigeria, Mali and Guinea. They are being prepared to fight on the front line of a battle of ideas and being equipped to take on the teachings of extremists who support the so-called Islamic State, both online and face-to-face in their own mosques. We ask whether mainstream and establishment political and religious organisations are likely to have the technical know-how and the presentational skills to compete with the slick video processing and focussed messaging of IS. Kevin also travels to Tunisia, which five years ago was the cradle of the Arab Spring. It is the ideal vantage point to ask whether the political and cultural stagnation of the decades before the Arab Spring helped to create the conditions for the rise of IS. We assess whether a lack of prosperity and hope is driving young men into the arms of extremist organisations. If the main driver of the rise of IS was a long accumulation of economic and political failures does that mean a problem that took decades to create might take decades to fix? (Photo: Young Imams from West Africa learning how to combat extremism)

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