Go online for hearts and minds

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One of Europe’s experts on Islam in the West says governments must rethink how they are going to win this war.

This week a British Muslim website discussed how worried they were about how disenchanted young men can turn into “Wahaboys”, a term derived from Wahabism, the strict Saudi Arabian interpretation of Islam.

That came days after the killing of controversial Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a suspected Islamist radical.

The events are entirely unrelated – but both point to a continental struggle for the direction of Muslim identity.

And, says Professor Gilles Kepel, the internet is playing an increasingly central part, if not the most important part, in this battle for hearts and minds.


If governments ensure the success of young European Muslims, then they will export their positive experiences eastwards, he argues.

But if governments do not act, then the disenfranchised extremes will confirm the suspicions of those who oppose Western society.