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28/04/2009 Dr Sara Silvestri What is radical about Islam? A seminar by Dr Sara Silvestri Cambridge University and City University.

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Presentation on theme: "28/04/2009 Dr Sara Silvestri What is radical about Islam? A seminar by Dr Sara Silvestri Cambridge University and City University."— Presentation transcript:

1 28/04/2009 Dr Sara Silvestri What is radical about Islam? A seminar by Dr Sara Silvestri Cambridge University and City University London Citizenship and Immigration Canada Ottawa 28 April 2009

2 28/04/2009 Dr Sara Silvestri My areas of work RESEARCH: Interdisciplinary (across Internat.Politics and Sociology) mainly qualitative + collaboration on quantitative projects ONGOING PROJECTS and INTERESTS - Muslim political mobilisation and institutions in Europe - European public policies towards religion and Muslim communities - Suspect Communities (counter-terrorism effects on Irish & Muslims in UK) - Radicalisation: secular and religious - Migration, integration and social cohesion, gender TEACHING: Political Islam & Muslims in Europe Religion in Global Politics, EU, International Relations POLICY-RELEVANT WORK: consultant/advisor on Muslims in Europe, intercultural dialogue, counter- terrorism (EuroMed, EU, UN Alliance of Civilisations, UK gov, think thanks)

3 28/04/2009 Dr Sara Silvestri Religion: what it is Spiritual search Answer to the mystery of death & life, Source of ethical values Externalised through practices and rituals which reinforce belonging A way to organise society An element of culture or shaped by culture? Theologians have distinguished between FAITH (belief, spirituality) and RELIGION (as set of practices, anthropocentric)

4 28/04/2009 Dr Sara Silvestri Religion: what it does Connects transcendent (supra-natural dimension of immortality and perfection) with immanent (mortal, earthly and imperfect dimension of humans) Proposes a unique universal truth that provides a comprehensive belief system, a view of world order that also suggest how to organise human relations Calls for personal engagement >> RADICAL FEATURES

5 28/04/2009 Dr Sara Silvestri The political dimension of religions (esp.monotheistic) Refer to a holy scripture that is unchanging and that indicates values inform family structures and norms for social organisation In their effort to connect transcendent and immanent they impinge on real life In time religions have enabled political leaders or social groups embracing a particular religion to create boundaries and to strengthen their authority

6 28/04/2009 Dr Sara Silvestri Radicalisation (official def.) European Commission (2005): Violent radicalisation is the phenomenon of people embracing opinions, views and ideas which could lead to acts of terrorism UK Gov. (2009): process by which people come to support violent extremism and, in some cases, join terrorist groups. Contest II addresses long term causes, before radicalisation becomes violent; entails monitoring adherence to ideologies Dutch Gov. (2004): Radicalism is an (increasing) readiness to pursue and/or support ones own political or social beliefs, which may imply far -reaching changes in society and a threat to the democratic legal system and/or may involve the application of undemocratic means to that end. (2005 doc.) 3 types of radicalism: Islamist, right wing, animalists

7 28/04/2009 Dr Sara Silvestri Radicalisation (cont.) Research shows that: It is a process No one pattern (personal psychology, ideology, domestic or international causes, socio-economic conditions) Entails opposition, resistance, dissent

8 28/04/2009 Dr Sara Silvestri Key terms in Islamic theology and history used by Islamists Acceptance of Mohammads message calling for total submission to God written in Quran by following principles and examples of religious life provided by Quran & Hadith (Sunna) and by adhering to the 5 pillars Tawhid (unity and unique sovereignty of God) Ummah (global, transnational community, sense of universality) Tradition: Quran+Hadith (sources of inspiration and authority) + Salaf (ancestors) Societal reform based on sense of divine justice Recreation of the Caliphate (perfect harmonious polity) Sharia (set of legal principles enshrined in holy scriptures, provides framework, point of reference)

9 28/04/2009 Dr Sara Silvestri Islamists Characteristics Narrative: revival of mythical past, alternative polity, resistance, identification with oppression of Muslims throughout the world, assimilation of third-worldist causes Strategy: opposition, dissent, collaboration, undermine the establishment, adaptation Location: mosques, educational centres, private associations/ civil society Membership: middle classes & students (often socialised in West) + masses

10 28/04/2009 Dr Sara Silvestri Islamist groups (some with extreme-violent offshoots) Salafist family (revivalism) Muslim Brothers & Jamaat-i-Islami (reform, renewal) Takfiri (reject politics) Tablighi (pietists, reject politics, traditionalists) Salafi-Jihadi (hybrid recent development) Hitz-ut-Tahrir (yes political engagement no democracy) Fetullah Gulen - conservative Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda & co.

11 28/04/2009 Dr Sara Silvestri The radical messages of Islam & Islamism POLITICAL: Questions secular authority and power relations. Absolute sovereignty of God PHILOSOPHICAL: Calls for societal transformation > potential for dissidence, subversion, revolution (already since Ibn Taymiyyaa, 14 th cent.) PHYSICAL & HISTORICAL: Violence nexus in Mohammads life (but needs be contextualised and historicised) and in path undertaken by Islamist groups once mainstream political engagement closed

12 28/04/2009 Dr Sara Silvestri Frame of understanding: Orientations and objectives RESISTANCE Towards country of origin: reform, against corruption RESISTANCE Towards country of settlement: Islamisation, Dawah, advocacy of minority rights, awareness of Islam Commitment to global transnational project

13 28/04/2009 Dr Sara Silvestri Project on Secular and Religious forms of Radicalisation (ESF sponsored with colleagues at ISIM and London Metropolitan Univ.) Extreme right & left movements in Europe since 60s Interconnection between the secular, the political and the religious dimensions The role of political culture and lifestyle The historical context (national, local, international, + grievances & understandings of identity) Global transformations of youth culture and of established forms of authority in both Western and non-Western societies

14 28/04/2009 Dr Sara Silvestri Religions (&Islams) contribution to Radicalisation? Assumption that theology and religious leaders endorse violence – not always valid Political Theology (world order, authority) Narrative, history (events, stepping stones, figures) Symbols and rituals Socialisation (family, friends, community) Fluidity and osmosis – religious shopping, in and out of networks >> Religion as a vehicle, provider of powerful narrative and symbols

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