In the two decades that have passed since the generation-defining events of 9/11, continuing turmoil across the Middle East has demonstrated instability, hardship and discontent but – equally – a palpable desire for change. This milestone anniversary affords an opportunity to reflect and reassess. At the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, we believe it is only by reassessing the deep-seated political, social and cultural developments that have fed into polarising ideologies that we can fully begin to reframe our understanding of the landscape today while putting forward progressive, practical policy proposals to support a more positive, peaceful and enterprising future for the region.
In this spirit, the Institute is releasing a collection of “9/11 – 20 Years On” companion papers that derive learnings and insights from the Middle East, Africa and the wider Muslim world – each having been deeply impacted before and after the events two decades ago. A team of dedicated experts and analysts will take deep dives into Islamic political thought, the roots of the growing terrorism and extremism in today’s sub-Saharan Africa, and the constraining relationship between the Islamic world’s conservative religious class and the state. We consider what can be learnt from the evolution of counterextremism policies, review the progress made by Muslim scholars to refute extreme interpretations of Islam and, perhaps most importantly, explore how attitudes have shifted in the past 20 years across the Middle East on matters such as gender equality, religion, secular politics and government, with a focus on how education is playing a role in shaping the landscape of tomorrow.