Sunday, August 13, 2006

Homegrown Redicalism.

This New York Times article casts some doubt on our perception of al Qaeda as a hierarchical organization. The more complex reality gives way to the simple invocation of Al Qaeda, and the still-chilling image of bin Laden, which "have provided an effective way to encapsulate and personalize the otherwise overwhelming threat of terrorism."
The reality may actually be much grimmer. According to Brian Fishman, of the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy.
“The world is simpler when we have one enemy. When we talk about a social movement and self-radicalizing, homegrown groups, that’s nothing like we have faced in the past.”
This is not an American problem but a European one and European governments must addressed the root causes of homegrown radicalization of some European muslims. If some young Muslims can be radicalized overnight, it is not so much because of the conflict in the Middle-East, or the war in Iraq but because of local issues - they be lack of integration, urban ghettoization, a sense of social alienation, or unemployment. Not that they are excuse - those are just facts.

Recruiters for hard-line Islamist groups can turn some Muslim youths with little interest in religion into extremists in a matter of weeks, contends Pierre de Bousquet de Florian, head of France's counterterrorism agency.

An estimated 5,000 French Muslims embrace extremist Islam, according to a 2005 police intelligence report. France is home to about 5 million Muslims, the largest Islamic community in western Europe, and French authorities claimed to dismantle several cells earlier this year".
(AP)
As Juliette Keyyem put it:
Investing in those communities and asking for their assistance in the fight against terrorism -- not distancing them – is a smarter strategy.
At the same time, I strongly believe that the answer will ultimately come from the European muslim community. In fact:
The original information about the plan came from the Muslim community in Britain, according to a British intelligence official. (CNN)
I even believe that European Muslims are the key to greater problems - they may have a great unfluence in expanding positive moderate theology into the Muslim world and be the counterpoint of the radical fundamentalists. It may take a couple generations or so, but in the end, once the European muslims are integrated, (the rate of intermarriage is quite high in France for instance) they could be a source of strength for Europe and for building bridges between the West and the Middle-East.
Here's a couple of interesting points (not often mentioned in the media) found in this study (PDF document) which back my somewhat optimistic view:
  • intermarriage between persons of African or Turkish origin with persons not of French origin, or between self-declared Muslims and those who are not self-declared Muslims are high, ranging from 20% to 50% depending on the generation (i.e. immigrants, 1st generation born in France, 2nd generation born in France), country of origin (e.g. higher rates among Algerians than among Moroccans) and gender (e.g. higher rates for males).
More surprisingly is this:
  • self-declared Muslims have a higher confidence in France, its institutions and their own future than the rest of the French population. Far from rejecting the French way, they proclaim loudly their desire to be better integrated while also complaining about the discrimination they endure. A 2005 State Department survey concluded: "French Muslims have a favorable overall opinion of France (95%), and two-thirds express confidence in the national and local government.".

This is not to deny the problems but the picture is far more complex than most people tend to believe, and usually not as dramatic as the media would have us to believe.

2 Comments:

At 05:28, Blogger Dan O'Donnell said...

Thank you for the post on this topic and with this info. I see a big problem in that French society seems to not yet be able to recognize that the Arab population must be able to integrate into the middle class, the bourgeouis and especially into the intelligentsia. A few entertainment stars are not sufficient to create an awareness that one can succeed despite the discrimination that will persist from many quarters.

 
At 18:56, Blogger Joker & Thief said...

Yes, I agree. I don't know if the riots last november were enough of a wake-up call. I think it was for some people at least. We'll see if the coming presidential campaigns tackle the issue for real.
I think you're absolutely right about integrating the sons and daughters of immigrants into the intelligentsia - what the youths need is positive role models who are not just great soccer players!
Also, we need to have more of our "minorities" in Parliament. The House right now is a real shame - a majority of old(er) white men - not enough women and not a single arab or black. How is that for representation! Unfortunately,a lot of people in power want to keep their position and manage to get only their buddies on the ticket or on the list.
I can't wait for next year's electosn - both for president and for Parliament.
J2T will definitely blogg on that.

 

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