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Groups and movements become radical in a ‘comparative perspective’: Dr. Muhammad Islam

“Radicalization is a group phenomenon where views and actions become violent in a ‘comparative perspective’. Radicalization is generally described as a situation in which groups or society [as a whole] resort to use of violent tactics. But this will be incomplete definition. Radicalization actually occurs at the level of ‘perceptions or ideas’ (ideology) even before this ‘action level’ (strategy). And all this happens in a ‘comparative perspective’ where a group compares its values, notions and perspectives with the values, notions and perspective of another group. And they (members of the former group) reach at the conclusion that the two views are not compatible and they need to achieve their goals in a different way, and [then] they don’t resort to the negotiations. Consequently they are of the firm belief that the best way to achieve their objective is use of violence”, commented Dr. Muhammad Islam, who addressed a session on “Defining Phenomenon of Radicalization in Pakistani Context”, organized by the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) on January 29, 2009 at its premises. Dr. Muhammad Islam is professor of political science at the Bahria University, Islamabad.

However describing the causes and factors of the radicalization in Pakistan Dr. Islam said that there are number of reasons of emergence of radical ideologies. Different [religious] sects become radical against each other because of feelings of hatred. These feelings of hatred are born when the leaders of different sects fail in producing arguments against each other’s concepts and then they become radical in their approaches. Secondly, deprivation is undermining the basic rights of the common people. Political affairs and helplessness, and hopeless conditions of the positions are also a great cause of radicalization. When the gaps between values, expectations and achievements widen then that particular group(s) of the society become segmented and their approach becomes cohesive and they are indulged in the use of violence for the achievements of their aims.

He pointed out that at certain times psychological reasons also become a strong breeding ground for some radical ideologies. When people cant materialize their dreams they rapidly become radical against the existing system and try to bring ‘revolution’ in all spheres of the society through their own system, which is based on their own wishes, notions and ideology.

Whereas discussing the radicalization in Muslim societies he pointed out that sense of deprivation is found in its great form in Muslims societies that are more fragmented than the western societies. So it is essential for the Muslims that they should maintain the notion of Ummah to keep unity in its lines, he commented.

He said while comparing the radicals and terrorists that both are same in their approaches as both use violence as a major tactics to pursue their aims but the term radicalization can be used in both of senses, positive as well as negative.

His address was followed by a brief question-answer session.