What is Islamism and why should it concern me?

By Dr Paul Stott

Background Briefing

‘What is Islamism, and why should it concern me?’

By Dr Paul Stott

7th September 2021


The term ‘Islamism’ is widely used in the media, contemporary political debates, and across society, yet is not always fully understood. This document seeks to answer basic questions about the term and offers a deeper understanding about an issue which concerns us all.


Islamism is best described as the desire to put forward an ideological view of Islam, one that is in practice binding not only on the Islamic-world but increasingly on the Western-world too. An Islamist aims to enforce an Islamic ideology upon the political and cultural base of society.


In a multicultural society, Islamism weakens social cohesion, accentuates difference and increases suspicion between different communities. This should worry us all. Additionally, the concept of group rights, where accepted, weakens the relationship between the individual and the state, empowers ‘community leaders’ who often lack any democratic mandate, and risks adversely shaping the structure of relations between different racial and religious backgrounds in the UK.


As argued by Tony Blair in the Guardian recently, the West still faces a serious threat from Islamist terror networks. Ahead of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 the former British Prime Minister reminded the international community that Islamist terrorism remains a “first order issue”. In the wake of the USA’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, it is even more important to better understand the very real threat that continues to challenge our values.




About the author:

Dr Paul Stott

Dr Paul Stott is an experienced academic, he received an MSc in Terrorism Studies (Distinction) from the University of East London in 2007, and his PhD in 2015 from the University of East Anglia for the research “British Jihadism: The Detail and the Denial”. He is a frequent commentator in both the British and international media on terrorism, the Middle East, security and the political fringe.



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