In a recent op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Maajid Nawaz discusses how we as “the West” can defeat Daesh, also known as Islamic State. Nawaz argues that he has a unique perspective on tackling Islamist groups, as he himself once served as a leader of an Islamist group (albeit a non-violent one).
One of the issues Nawaz presents is the inability or unwillingness of Western governments to name or define the “enemy” they are fighting. He says, “I call this the Voldemort effect, after the villain in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Many well-meaning people in Ms. Rowling’s fictional world are so petrified of Voldemort’s evil that they do two things: They refuse to call Voldemort by name, instead referring to ‘He Who Must Not Be Named,’ and they deny that he exists in the first place. Such dread only increases public hysteria, thus magnifying the appeal of Voldemort’s power.” While linking Harry Potter with Daesh may seem farcical on the surface, recent comments by those in the political sphere, from Donald Trump to Marine Le Pen, show just how dangerous it can be to leave a threat undefined. As crimes against Muslims are on the rise, Nawaz’s suggestion that “public hysteria”will increase appears to be at least partially accurate.
Central to Nawaz’s proposals for stopping Daesh are three points: (1) isolate them (Daesh), (2) make them less appealing to marginalised Muslims and (3) avoid an all-out “clash of civilisations” between “Islamic civilisation” and “the West”.
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