Extremism Provokes Extremism

Commenting on the first two years of the Algerian civil war that began in January 1992 with the military coup, Algerian journalist Abed Charef describes how extremism provokes extremism, marginalizing the moderates:

…l’Algerie s’est retrouvee prisonnieredes deux courants les plus extremes. Le courant islamiste le plus radical s’est lance dans un terrorism sanglant, rejetant tout compromis possible, d’un cote. Le pouvoir, de l’autre cote, prisonnier de sa propre logique de confrontation, a refuse d’ecouter les partisans de voies medianes, se laissant enfermer dans un discours proche de celui des ‘eradicateurs’. Entre les deux, les partis qui avaient recueilli le plus de voix aux elections, totalement prives de canaux d’expression, soumis a une terrible pression, ont ete totalement etouffes. La veritable bipolarisation entre le systeme et le FIS s’est imposee. [Algerie: Le grand derapage, 429.]

C’est alore le regne de l’activisme le plus radical, peu propice aux idees et a la reflexion.

This provides one of the clearest arguments in favor of even the most temporary and superficial steps away from violence: the very existence of violence is the greatest obstruction to its elimination. One need not see the road to peace; it is not necessary that any of the current political actors even genuinely desire peace. Nonetheless, what peace needs to take root is at least some temporary interruption of the vicious cycle of rising extremism.

 

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