Talk to Al Jazeera

Altikriti: ‘You can’t wage war on an idea’

The British-Iraqi political analyst on the threat of ISIL and relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in the West.

Is a showdown looming between Muslims and non-Muslims in the West? Is the so-called clash of civilisations inevitable?

You can’t create … a counter-terrorism, a counter-extremism plan in order to fight an idea like ISIL. It doesn’t work. You can’t wage war on an idea.

Not necessarily, according to British-Iraqi political analyst Anas Altikriti.

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks he founded the Cordoba foundation in the UK, a Muslim Brotherhood-linked group keen to advance the notion that there is no inherent conflict between the West and Islam.

This despite the establishment of the Islamic State group (ISIL) and increasing worries in countries such as the UK that the war in Iraq and Syria might find outlets in Europe as well.

Last year, Altikriti met US President Barack Obama and his advisors at the White House, to discuss the situation in Iraq.

He says about the meeting: “ISIL was still localised in the western part of Iraq and there were worries about how to deal with ISIL …. At the time the American administration was more concerned with securing the oil pipelines …. and trying to continue to push the sectarian narrative when talking about Iraq ….

“And [there is] the failure to recognise that at the very heart of Iraq’s crisis ISIL was merely a symptom, it wasn’t the cause. The cause was that we had a state that had been set up in a very very haphazard way, a very very random, very very amateurish way in 2003 that led to utter failure – a state so corrupt that it lingers at the very foot of the Transparency International list for the past six, seven years – and ultimately with no way out.”

So what is the future of Islam and the West? Is ISIL an invincible threat?

We sat down with Anas Altikriti to get a better sense of his organisation, his philosophy and what he thinks the Muslim community should and should not do. We spoke to Altikriti before the attacks in Paris on January 7.

undefined Talk to Al Jazeera can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430 and 1930; Sunday: 1930; Monday: 1430 .   

     Watch more Talk to Al Jazeera