Courtesy Reuters


Islam and the West are not engaged in a clash of civilizations -- at least not yet. But the West is being drawn into the clash of two competing ideologies within the Islamic world. Proponents of the first believe that Islam is compatible with secular democracy and basic civil liberties. Proponents of the second are committed to replacing the current world order with a new caliphate -- that is, a global Islamic state. They are the ones who seek to trigger a true clash of civilizations, partly in order to force the more moderate Muslims to choose their interpretation of Islam.

Extremist Islamist organizations such as al Qaeda have become well known in recent years for trying to accomplish their objectives through terrorism and political violence. Less well known, however, are the complementary organizations devoted not to direct action but to ideological struggle. Of these, the most important

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  • ZEYNO BARAN is Director of the International
    Security and Energy Programs at the Nixon Center, in Washington, D.C.
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