Counter-Terrorism: Al Qaeda Loses To Tradition

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April 2, 2006: Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa tends to be a lot less rigorous than what is found in the Arab regions of the North or in the Middle East generally. Many traditional practices have attached themselves to Islam across much of Africa (some of them, such as female genital multination by no means innocuous), and efforts by fundamentalists to impose a stricter interpretation of the faith have generally gotten nowhere.

Kenya's leading Islamic religious organization, the "Council of Imans and Preachers in Kenya" (CIPK), is a good example of this much more tolerant religious outlook. As religious fundamentalism has been rising across much of the Moslem world, CIPK has cranked up a major effort to promote tolerance. CIPK distributes tracts that stress the more tolerant and conciliatory aspects of the Koran and other traditional religious works, it often suggests Koranic passages and apparently even outlines of sermons to the country's imams, and even provides financial support to imams and mosques that have particularly notable records of promoting tolerance.

Naturally, CIPK's interpretation of Islam has led to considerable criticism by more radical elements, but the organization seems to be holding its own. The CIPK receives support from the government, and other (presumably the U.S., but oh so quietly) sources. The United States has made no secret of the need to support mainstream (moderate) Islam.

 


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