Homegrown Terrorists and the West: What can be done to stop young Muslims from adopting radical views and joining militant groups?
Counter to the common interpretation, the appeal of radical anti-Western groups like ISIS among European Muslims is not driven primarily by socioeconomic deprivation. In fact, three interrelated factors play a more significant role.
The first is the powerful presence of the Salafi version of Islam in the religious market of ideas. This is problematic because even as most Muslims in the West are not Salafis and the majority of Salafis are not jihadists, it happens that groups like Al Qaiada and ISIS have a Salafi background. It means that their theological view comes from a particular interpretation of Islam rooted in Wahhabism, an eighteenth century doctrine adopted by the Saudi kingdom. In the West, Salafis incite people to withdraw from mainstream society, depicted as impure, in order to live by strict rules. These reactionary interpretations do contain similarities with jihadist discourse.
Click on post title to read more…
The second factor in the radicalization of Muslim youth is the increase of discriminatory policies vis-à-vis Islamic practices in Europe, including the use of the hijab and regulation of mosque minarets, circumcision and halal food. All contribute to a growing sense among Muslims that they are not accepted as full members of European society. Anti-immigration and anti-Islamic discourse translates into discriminatory practices in employment, housing and political activities. It can be a factor in strengthening a defensive identification within Islam and therefore gives more leverage to any ideology that pits the West against Muslims.
Third, the collapse of all major ideologies in Europe — nationalism, Communism, and liberalism — has left room for new radical options. For some young Europeans, adherence to radical Islam provides a viable alternative ideology, comparable to that of radical leftist groups in the 1970s.
These factors reveal a lack of true integration of Muslims as European policies have prioritized socioeconomic measures. In other words, political efforts are needed to put an end to the “ghettoization” of Islam, which is often depicted as alien and incompatible with Western core liberal values. It means that geopolitical issues like the “war on terror” should be disconnected as much as possible from Islam and its adherents and their practices. Europe, and to a certain extent the U.S., face a major political challenge, which is the inclusion of Islam within their respective national narratives. It is a huge symbolic task, equivalent to the undertaking that led to the integration of the African-American past and legacy into the dominant American narrative.
Jocelyne Cesari is senior research fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University, and director of the Islam in the West Program at Harvard University. She is the author of “Why the West Fears Islam: An Exploration of Muslims in Liberal Democracies” and “The Awakening of Muslim Democracy: Religion, Modernity, and the State.”
* * *
What rubbish. Where do these idiots come from anyway? “It happens that groups like Al Qaiada and ISIS have a Salafi background.“ Just happens! Like a rainy or sunny day. Why, they could just as easily have been Buddhists or something except for various chance factors.
As for the less than warm welcome for hijabs, minarets, halal food and so on–it just so happens, Ms Cesari, that people did not ask for these items and don’t want them. The Muslims just arrived, without consultation at the popular level. They were just “temporary” foreign workers who somehow became permanent.
The suggestions that 1970s radicals have turned to Islam as other ideologies have “collapsed” may have some truth when it comes to people from Muslim lands.
But from my reading, very, very few old 1970s radicals have actually converted, although some are quite happy to use the Muslims to further their goals. Indeed, the 1970s ideologies have not “collapsed” in the West at all, excepting only extremes such as Soviet style communism. If anything, they have triumphed.
And the inclusion of “nationalism” in the list of 1970s ideologies makes senses only for Muslim countries–it has been dead in Europe since the end of WW II.
The reader comments are unreadable. I may be ill if I have to read any more like the first one in the list:
Beyond asking Europe to embrace Islam, we should all expect educated Europeans to recognize the historical fact of the foundational role of Islamic culture in contemporary Western thought and science.
The very words, “algebra” and “alkaline” are borrowed directly from Arabic, where algebra was invented and chemistry was extensively studied. Astronomers will be able to rattle of dozens of Arabic-named stars, starting with Aldebaran, Betelgeuse, …. well I hope you get the point.
Even Christian thought in the high Middle Ages gladly borrowed from, and consciously respected, Arabic authors like Avicenna and Averroes. The European Renaissance would not have had access to many Greek and Roman texts, if those had not been studied and preserved by Muslim scholars.
It is fine to observe that women’s role is often unbearable in some Islamic societies. But in America at least, we have to admit we treated African heritage in a far more negative way, at times well within living memory.
Rather than risk another doozy like that, I am done.