Dr. Tawfik Hamid, an Islamic thinker and Senior Fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, gave a talk on “Jihadism Through an Insider’s Eyes” at The Institute of World Politics on February 16th. When Dr. Hamid was a young man, he became a member of the extremist Egyptian group Jamaat al-Islamiyya. Subsequently trained in cognitive psychology, Dr. Hamid delivered a unique perspective on Islamic radicalism and its pathological roots.
During his talk, he covered many facets of radical Islam, such as its history, the brain-washing techniques that sustain it, what motivates young men to join it, and Islamic justifications for violence. Dr. Hamid highlighted each in view of his knowledge of psychology.
His lecture also focused on how to counter the extremist and terrorist mindset. Dr. Hamid believes that tolerating extreme dogmatisms in Islam, such as forced wearing of the hijab and the proliferation of radical teachings, only makes the radical elements stronger. He has therefore called for reforms of Islam, and, as importantly, our treatment of it in the West. By focusing on its hypocrisy and by refusing to tolerate its provocations– which become the seedbed of radical appeal– Islam can purify itself of its radical strands.