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Will Trump be open to dialogue with Islamists?

While President-elect Donald Trump took a strong stance against Islamists during his campaign, his openness to Turkey’s Justice and Development Party-led government shows that the coming administration’s approach to Islamists is still unknown.
Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a bi-lateral meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 19, 2016.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTSOIF0
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The upset that few expected has happened — Donald J. Trump, who ran on a platform of bigotry in a variety of fashions, has won the US presidential election. One of the first international leaders to call him with congratulations was Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. In policy circles in various Western capitals and in the region, the way in which a Trump presidency will deal with political Islamism, an issue both Trump and Sisi feel strongly about, is piquing curiosity.

Trump has made it clear that he regards the Obama administration as having been soft on Islamist extremism, even though it was under the Obama administration that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was eliminated. Trump’s main argument seems to be that Obama has been too cautious when describing Islamist extremism; Obama was careful not to claim Islamic authenticity for that extremism. Rather, as Obama's administration was keen to repeat, Islamist extremism was an aberration. This was a religiously heterodox approach to the religion. Such nuances are basic for much of the counterterrorism establishment and for subject-matter experts in academic circles and policy — but not, it seems, for large parts of the Trump camp.

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