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Terrorist Rehab

Jan 27, 2009

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Sarah Handel

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Here's something we keep talking around, but haven't quite pinned down the talk show on: terrorist rehabilitation. There have been some interesting articles on the process of rehabilitating religious extremists, and its efficacy. Slate's got a quick explainer on how it works in Saudi Arabia, excerpted below.

Detainees ... are sent to a former desert resort outside Riyadh. There they swim in a pool, play soccer and volleyball, use Playstation, do art therapy, and learn to practice a more moderate form of Islam. They also take classes taught by clerics and social scientists. Coursework covers 10 subjects, from religious concepts like jihad (religious struggle) and takfir (calling someone an unbeliever) and walaah (loyalty) to psychological courses in self-esteem. The clerics impart the laws of Wahhabism—the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia—which prohibit jihad unless there is an official fatwa. At the end of six weeks, students take an exam. If they pass, they may be approved for release. (That is, if they have already served out their original jail sentence.) If not, they have to take the class again.

Fascinating, but we haven't quite figured out a role for callers in the conversation. Stay tuned...

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