Magnus Norell is a Senior Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy; Associate Director of Studies in Terrorism, Organised Crime and Middle East Politics at Infosphere in Stockholm and Adjunct Scholar at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, D.C.
His latest book, The Return of the Caliphate – Causes and Consequences was just released.
Clarion Project caught up with Norell for a quick interview:
Clarion Project: What do you think is the main draw of young people to jihadism?Magnus Norell:There’s obviously always a personal story. But looking over the years, I think it’s hard not to see that ideology plays a very important role. Often in combination with other factors, but the religious ideology is key.
Clarion: What would the ideal radicalization prevention program look like?Norell:That’s too big a question for this space! But again, what people in the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region have been saying to me (and others of course) over the years is that in order to break the ties between the religion of Islam and violence, there must be a break between religion and politics. As the current Egyptian president said back in the winter of 2014 to the staff of Al Azahar: Islam needs a revolution…!
Clarion: What is the connection between “political” (non-violent) Islamists and violent Islamist groups?Norell: The connection is that the end-goals are the same. They’re both “political” as well, of course, which is clearly stated, too. And some non-violent groups and organizations have been shown to act [sometimes involuntarily] as conveyor-belts to more violent groups.
Clarion:What can Western governments do about these groups within the framework of freedom of speech and expression?Norell: In a democracy, the bar should lay high. I’m very “American” in that regard!. But there should be no public funding to groups that do not subscribe fully to the tenets of real democracy. And if one does cross the line, there should be a price to pay.