After the Islamic State, Renewed Urgency for Religious Reform

Source: Washington Institute

Author(s): Dina Al Riffie

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The recent declaration of the Islamic State (IS) territorial defeat in Syria has refocused the debate on how to achieve an enduring peace based on successful counterextremism initiatives. This raises a crucial question: who may legitimately be tasked with countering the religious appeal of jihadism in the region?

On April 2, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, met with United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres in Cairo, where both officials reiterated their commitment to achieving an enduring global peace, countering extremism, and curtailing hate speech. This comes on the heels of the historic February visit by Pope Francis to the United Arab Emirates, where he and Tayeb signed the “Declaration of Human Fraternity,” suggesting that the widely renowned Egyptian-based religious institution perceives itself as a moderating force capable of taking the lead in countering extremism among the world’s Muslim communities. The declaration emphasized, among other things, the importance of fighting extremism globally, while promoting interfaith tolerance as a central component for achieving this goal.

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