The recent increase in terrorism in Tunisia has been attributed to a number of factors.
Among those are: a widening rift between Sunni and Shia Muslims; underdevelopment and poverty in many Arab countries; western intervention in the Middle East; and a perceived lack of constructive religious education.
Imam Ibrahim Al-Jaledi works in Tunis, the Tunisian capital. He is among those who believe radicalisation could be prevented with better religious teaching.
“Today in Tunisia, we are missing the right kind of religious education,” he said. “Especially since the government closed the Zitouna mosque during President Bourguiba’s reign and religious education there was stopped. It was a great place, from which many respected sheikhs graduated.”
With more and more youths turning to extremism Mohamed Ali, a resident of al-Malasin – one of the poorest areas of Tunis – gave his view on what is driving people towards jihad.
“The first reason is poverty,” he opined. “The second is that these terrorists, who are mostly ex-cons, were put under great pressure by the government and police while they were imprisoned. They make their lives difficult. These people are then exposed to the temptations of terrorist groups. They are brainwashed to go and fight because they have lost hope in life and believe they are fighting in the name of Allah.”
In the wake of the June 26 attack in Sousse, Tunisia’s prime minister announced 80 mosques believed to incite extremism would be closed. But it may take more to stem the spread of violence, according to our correspondent Mohammed Shaikibrahim.
“Several causes and complex circumstances have led the youth of Tunisia to join jihadist groups. But security measures against the vulnerable are not always the only solution. Education must be used to fight terrorism,” he said.