Study: Schools Should Teach Middle Eastern Politics to Counter Extremism


Greater engagement with diverse Muslim communities, including the “balanced” teaching of Middle East politics in schools, is needed to counter the threat of violent extremism, a report by a leading thinktank has concluded.

The report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (Aspi) found that the slick online propaganda machine created by Islamic State had experienced considerable success in recruiting younger fighters, and that government attempts to counter extremism online had so far fallen short.

It noted that younger Muslims mistrusted the government.

“The Muslim community must be part of a coherent national response to terrorism,” the report said. “Australia as a whole must find a way to work with Australian Muslims that’s creative and respectful and doesn’t blame the community for the behaviour of a tiny group.

“Any engagement program needs to operate on the basis that there is no single Muslim community in Australia,” the report said. Government policy needed to take that diversity into account.

“A key task will be to build trust within this group, which will happen only after a sustained effort to discuss, listen and collaborate,” it said.

The executive director of Aspi, Peter Jennings, told ABC radio that political leaders needed to get past simplistic phrases such as “Team Australia”.

“That didn’t go down terribly well,” Jennings said. “I recognise the prime minister’s intent but I think in some ways what’s needed is a deeper conversation with those communities in order to bring them into a shared enterprise which is where, frankly, we’re not right now.”

The opposition leader, Bill Shorten, said Muslim Australians should not be “demonised”.

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SOURCE: Shalailah Medhora
The Guardian

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