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The limit-experience and self-deradicalisation: the example of radical Salafi youth in Tunisia

Critical Studies on TerrorismJournal abstract

This article gives an example of self-deradicalisation from Tunisia. It addresses the potential of radicalised individuals to de-radicalise themselves from within the Salafi doctrine with no external interventions, in comparison with the state’s religious rehabilitation approaches to tackling radicalism which not only fail but are also counterproductive. Deradicalisation could, of course, involve a more comprehensive rejection of Salafi ideology. This article suggests that an effective type of deradicalisation that is more likely to make the desired change possible is one in which there is a gradual modification of some attitudes and behaviours without abandoning the whole underpinning Salafi ideology. Referring to the personal narratives of 28 individual Tunisian Salafis, the article identifies phases of radicalisation and deradicalisation as the individual voluntarily moves from embracing radical ideology to a more critical understanding and practice reflecting on personal and interpersonal experiences of being radicalised. The research shows that the process of self-deradicalisation is reflective of Salafi youth experience of engagement with radicalism and is more likely to happen in societies that allow political expression and individual freedom that invoke individuals’ critical thinking.