When President Sadat of Egypt was assassinated by members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad Organization in 1981, Dr. Abdalla was at that time a prosecutor at Egypt’s National Security Office. For more than five years, he directly conducted judicial investigations and interviews with hundreds if not thousands of members of radical and terrorist organizations acting, wrongly, in the name of Islam. That unique experience prepared him to navigate his knowledge and impressions from his judicial work on terrorism and violent extremism into his later education in peace and conflict studies. That unique combination of first-hand experience and encounter with members of violent extremist groups, and application of peace and conflict resolution frameworks, are what Dr. Abdalla brings to his courses and publications on the topic.
Religious Violent Extremism Course
This course addresses the dynamic relationship and entanglements between the state, government, political authority, and religion-based political agents. The Focus is on the changing nature of political religions and religious politics; and the role of religions and religion-based political actors in democratization and democracies.
The course aims to develop knowledge of the religious, social, cultural and political roots of terrorism in the Muslim context, providing balanced frameworks that may lead to peaceful transformation.
The course does not start with a simplistic assumption that “religion has been the cause of all conflicts”. Instead, the course studies critically the role of religion (along with other factors, such as nationalism, ethnicity, race, class, gender, among others) in contributing to conflict causes, influencing its persisting negative and destructive dynamics, and in peacefully resolving and transforming conflicts.
The course will be studied from the vantage point of the field of peace and conflict studies, using frameworks and models intended to deeply analyze several case studies from different parts of the world. The course materials and activities will culminate in an exploration of methods and processes that would advance the positive peaceful role of religion and religious institutions in various types and levels of conflicts, and which are suitable for the realities of the 21st century.
Expected outcomes of this course are:
To develop a holistic understanding of the dynamics of religious violent extremism
To develop a strong understanding of the history, dynamics and motivations of violent extremism in the name of Islam
To gain insights into models of religious violent extremism prevalent in students’ context
To develop a strong foundation for understanding and programming de-radicalization and religious violent extremism projects and programs, leading to transformation.
The following is a list of some of the courses offered on the topic:
Graduate Course on Religious Violent Extremism and Terrorism. Ateneo de Manila University and University for Peace Dual Masters Programme. August 2019. Manila, Philippines.
Graduate Course on Religious Dimensions in Peace and Conflict. Wesley Theological Seminary. 2015- 2019. Washington, D.C.
Graduate Course (online) on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization: Best Practices and Lessons from the World. Wesley Theological Seminary. 2016- 2018. Washington, D.C.
Graduate Course on Religious Violent Extremism and Terrorism. University for Peace. May 2017. San Jose, Costa Rica.
Graduate Course on Religious Violent Extremism and Terrorism. Ateneo de Manila University and University for Peace Dual Masters Programme. July 2016. Manila, Philippines.
Graduate Course on Religious Violent Extremism and Terrorism. Institute for Peace and Security Studies Ph.D. Programme. June 2016. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Undergraduate Course on Terrorism in the Muslim Context: Causes, Developments and Prospects for Peaceful Transformation. University of Winnipeg. May 2010; June 2012. Winnipeg. Canada.
Graduate Course on Religious Violent Extremism and Terrorism. University for Peace. 2004-2013. San Jose, Costa Rica.
Graduate Course on Religious Violent Extremism and Terrorism. School of Public Policy, George Mason University. Summer 2004. Arlington, VA.
Presentation on Doctrine Revisions to Prevent Violent Extremism Committed in the Name of Islam. Abuja, Nigeria, November 2016.