This article investigates the role of religious institutions in the countering and
prevention of violent extremism (C/PVE) in Nineveh province, Iraq. It addresses a
major gap in the literature that offers largely descriptive accounts of C/PVE
policies, without considering the different stakeholders involved in their
implementation and the complex network of relationships among them. The
actions and legitimacy of religious institutions are analysed against the
background of the post-2003 Iraqi state apparatus. The hybridity of the new
political system of the second republic (2005-present) justifies the focus on the
initiatives of both formal and informal religious institutions towards key C/PVE
sectors such as education and peace-building. Building on 59 interviews
conducted in Hamdaniyyah and Tel Afar four years after the official victory over
the Islamic State, this paper introduces new data and innovative insights into the
relationships between religious institutions, state apparatus and civil society. The
findings suggest that i) while the legitimacy of religious institutions is contested
across Nineveh province, there is a consensus on the need for these institutions to
be involved in C/PVE; ii) interactions between religious institutions, political
systems, and civil society have increased but remain limited; and iii) the
fragmentation of the state apparatus is reflected in uncoordinated and unregulated
C/PVE strategies. The importance of religious institutions in fostering community
resilience to violent extremism in Nineveh province should not overlook the need
for a transversal and inclusive approach to healing the scars left by two decades of
rampant conflicts.

Note: Article published in Journal for Radicalization.

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