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Religion, Governments, and Preventing Violent Extremism: What Have We Learned?

Elsanousi, Mohamed; Hayward, Susan; Hellyer, H.A.; Mandaville, Peter

The role and efficacy of religious actors and institutions in preventing and countering violent extremism has been an ongoing topic of debate among scholars of religion and foreign affairs. Policymakers and practitioners have at times invested in particular religious leaders or state-sanctioned sources of “moderate” religion in the hope that they will prove effective in discrediting religious extremists and dissuading potential recruits to their cause. Others have criticized government entanglement with religion in the context of national security affairs, or cast doubt on the credibility or capacity of religious actors to address these challenges.

With a new U.S. National Strategy for Counterterrorism now in place, and with an administration in Washington, D.C., that has placed particular emphasis on countering extremist ideology, questions about how best to think about the relationship between religion and preventing or countering violent extremism (P/CVE) take on renewed currency. Scholars assessed the current state of debate around religion and P/CVE and reflected on how lessons learned to date might inform thinking, policy, and practice in this area going forward.

A reception followed the event.