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Education under totalitarian regimes: The case of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

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This article discusses the education system under the totalitarian regime of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from 2014 to 2017. It describes and analyses the characteristics of the totalitarian education system, as conceived and implemented by the Salafist and jihadist group. The aim of this article to understand some of the totalitarian educational tools used by ISIS and to contribute to the understanding of education induced by totalitarian regimes, including its common features and implications. The analysis reveals fundamental characteristics: (a) the destruction of the existing education system in order to redefine its contours entirely, (b) an attempt to control educational content completely in order to apply a comprehensive doctrine, (c) the infusion of terror by means of extreme violence and fear throughout all educational components, and (d) the enforced loneliness of individuals in order to annihilate their creative potential. The challenge today is to prevent the “totalitarian temptation” by proposing educational approaches adapted to counteract these new jihadist attempts.

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Correspondence to Albane Buriel.

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Buriel, A. Education under totalitarian regimes: The case of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Prospects 53, 57–72 (2023).

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