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Monash European an EU Centre 2013 Summer School– Dr Natalie Doyle.

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1 Monash European an EU Centre 2013 Summer School– Dr Natalie Doyle

2  As in the United States and Australia, discussion of the place of Islam in liberal democratic societies has been conducted in the shadow of fear, the fear of Jihadist terrorism  There is however a difference in the ways “Anglo-saxon” countries like the USA and Australia have approached Islamic terrorism and the way European countries have done so  To a large extent, this difference explains how European societies have responded to the growth of Muslim migrant communities Peter R. Neumann “The trouble with radicalization” International Affairs 89: 4 (2013)

3  The Anglo-saxon approach aims to deal with behavioural radicalization, with acts of terrorism and violence, rather than with “cognitive radicalization” or extremist beliefs  The threshold for government intervention is the individual’s intention to break the law, not their political ideas or motivations  Freedom of speech and expression is paramount: people’s political views as well as lifestyles and religious practices must be protected from government interference

4  This approach originates in a historical tradition characterized by a passionate belief in the freedom of speech and a greater confidence in the robustness of democracy  As a result, non-violent extremists are not regarded as a political threat; the view is that all societies should tolerate a degree of extremism  In practical terms, counter-radicalization has been solely defined as counter-terrorism and has been entrusted primarily to the police 

5  By contrast, the European approach seeks to counter the radicalization of ideas  It rests on the assumption that extremist ideas can lead to extremist violence  Extremists are thus seen as essentially problematic and potentially dangerous  Extremism is a political threat: it question the social order or in the German perspective, the “ constitutional order ”

6  The European approach is also conditioned by history : the rise of extremist ideologies in the 1930s which destabilized sociaty n Spain, Italy and Germany  This experience entrenched the view that “the intolerant cannot be tolerated” ( Karl Popper The Open Society 1945)  The difference between the “Anglo-saxon” and “ European” approaches is evident in the way they deal with the influence of Salafism

7  Salafism: a militant group of extremist Sunnis who advocate a return to the early Islam of the Koran and traditional “Sunna” piety (Salafi= pious ancestors)  Salafis believe themselves to be the only correct interpreters of the Koran and consider moderate Muslims to be infidels

8  Salafism is not the only type of Muslim fundamentalism with a political dimension that is present in Europe  But over a decade it has gained many supporters in Europe, especially via France as a result of links to Algeria where it was repressed by the state in 1990s Tariq Ramadan, Swiss academic and writer, professor at Oxford University, son of Wafa Al- Bana, eldest daughter of Hassan al Banna founder of the Muslim Brotherhood

9  There is an activist political strand of Salafism advocating the creation of an Islamic state  And especially a “Jihadist” one linked to terrorist organizations operating across the planet  The 24 year old French terrorist Mohamed Merah who killed three soldiers, one school teacher and 3 students in a Jewish school in March 2012 was linked to a Salafi Jihadist group, Forsane Alliza

10  Salafis, however, is not a homogenous movement  The majority of its currents, are in fact pietist, focusing on religious education  They promote an a-political and non violent conception of Islam

11  The majority of Salafis in Europe today ( the second and third generations) are politically and socially conservative, advocating acceptance of the authority of the state  They talk of the “Islamization” of Europe through their proselitizing efforts but in a utopian vein, over the very long term  In this respect, they function as a sect, cultivating a distance from mainstream society

12  For the past 10 years or so, in Europe, Salafism has been gaining support among the young and disenfranchised of Muslim culture  There have also been conversions amongst “white” Europeans  This religious extremism has become perceived as a threat by European states Sami Amghar “Salafism and Radicalisation of Young European Muslims” Library/Publications/Detail/?lng=en&id=45690

13  The spotlight has been put on the question of its incompatibility with European values:  Secularism  Women’s rights  The “Islamization of Europe” has been seized by the xenophobic right e.g. Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen in France The Niqab or “ Burka” has become a symbol of the threat which Muslim religious radicalization is perceived as

14  Arguably, this has triggered a logic of co- radicalization, encouraging “liberal measures” being proposed to protect Dutch, French, “European” values etc.  This led in France to the wearing in public of the niqab being banned in 2011 and praying in the street

15  These measures were discussed with respect to the need to protect the French understanding of secularism as a legal definition of the strict separation of Church and State known as laïcité introduced in 1905, later referred to in the constitution  This law prohibited all references to religious beliefs in state institutions but it also guaranteed the freedom of worship and cannot easily be invoked to justify banning the burka and street prayers  The activism of the French state has inspired similar measures in other European countries R. Gould “Alien Religiosity in Three Liberal European States” in Politics, Reigion and Ideology, 14:2, 2013.

16  The French state’s language of secularism has been amplified by the extreme xenophobic right with echoes even in Australia  See the pamphlet denouncing the threat of an Islamization of Australia: “Australia is based on the separation of Church and State”  There is in Australian history no equivalent to the 1905 French law or to the USA’s constitutional separation …


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