After Muslim countries gained independence, they witnessed the emergence of radical movements. One such movement – radical Islam – claims to be based on the concept of original purity.
In practice, however, radical Islamists, like members of other radical movements, are eager to attack anyone perceived as unlike them. Hitler is a clear historical example of this.
It is interesting to note that radicals commonly spring from poor educational and social environments.
In Tunisia, especially over the last decade, good-quality education was generally limited to wealthy people. Lack of access to good education resulted in the emergence of a large sector of the population that remained marginalised.
The statistics in Tunisia are terrifying. The average citizen reads half a page per year. Many Tunisians have never read a book. An educational system that once stimulated thinking and criticism devolved into one that facilitates indoctrination and passive acceptance.
And a radical ideology is best able to gain ground among people who cannot think.
With intellectual idleness and lack of criticism, people find in radicalism an opportunity to exact revenge for their marginalisation. Adherents of the ideology obtain recognition that they would otherwise never get.
Islamic radicalism can even be seen as an attempt to speak on earth for Allah the Almighty. Radicals are oblivious to the fact that their ideology is tantamount to idolatry. With their fake representation of the sacred, radicals silence and attack people, and regard that as a reward and pride.
They accuse intellectuals of ignorance while it is actually the radicals themselves who have cultural shortcomings.
Since radicals seek to avenge their marginalisation, excluding them is not a solution. Such an approach would only serve to increase their sense of inferiority. They would generate more violence in an attempt to make themselves heard.
The solution is to contain them, reassure them and gradually re-integrate them into society. This, however, cannot be done in days or even months.
It will take years to rehabilitate our country on the educational and cultural levels, and for people to choose the spiritual dimension of Islam over a radical, extremist interpretation.