OP-ED: Freedom of the press and global jihad (J. Cesari)

At the offices of French satirical magaizne "Charlie Hebdo." (Photo: Reuters)
At the offices of French satirical magaizne “Charlie Hebdo.” (Photo: Reuters)

Since the attacks on Charlie Hebdo on 7 January, the saying (wrongly attributed to Voltaire), “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” has become a motto against radicalism. Unfortunately, this virtuous defense of freedom of speech is not only inefficient but is backfiring, as demonstrated by protests in Muslim countries against the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo, which was released in the aftermath of the attacks.

The challenge of global jihad in Europe is broader and is the result of the lack of symbolic integration of Islam within liberal democracies, as well as the preeminence of a global theology of intolerance which Al Qaida and ISIS have used to build their political ideology.

See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2015/02/freedom-press-global-jihad/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=oupacademic&utm_campaign=oupblog#sthash.4vkcNJ4u.dpuf

New Book: The Oxford Handbook of European Islam (Jocelyne Cesari, Editor)

European Islam CoverThe Oxford Handbook of European Islam is the first collection to present a comprehensive approach to the multiple and changing ways Islam has been studied across European countries. Parts one to three address the state of knowledge of Islam and Muslims within a selection of European countries, while presenting a critical view of the most up-to-date data specific to each country. These chapters analyse the immigration cycles and policies related to the presence of Muslims, tackling issues such as discrimination, post-colonial identity, adaptation, and assimilation. The thematic chapters, in parts four and five, examine secularism, radicalization, Shari’a, Hijab, and Islamophobia with the goal of synthesizing different national discussion into a more comparative theoretical framework. The Handbook attempts to balance cutting edge assessment with the knowledge that the content itself will eventually be superseded by events. Featuring eighteen newly-commissioned essays by noted scholars in the field, this volume will provide an excellent resource for students and scholars interested in European Studies, immigration, Islamic studies, and the sociology of religion.

Editorial: Why the West Fears Islam – Muslims in Western Democracies

Harvard professor and Islam expert Jocelyne Cesari looks into the mechanisms of the West’s fear of Islam, and ponders on how the dominant narrative that tends to present Islam as an alien religion can be countered.

en.qantara.de : http://en.qantara.de/content/muslims-in-liberal-democracies-why-the-west-fears-islam

Report – Religion and Diasporas: Challenges of the Emigration Countries

Religion and Diasporas – Challenges of the Emigration Countries

Citation:

Jocelyne Cesari, Religion and Diasporas: Challenges of the Emigration Countries, INTERACT RR 2013/01, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, San Domenico di Fiesole (FI): European University Institute, 2013.

Abstract:

Using the theoretical framework of transnational studies and sociology of religion, this paper identifies  the most significant factors that influence the religious dimensions of the emigration countries: the majority or minority status of the migrant group in the receiving countries as well as the pre-existing level of politicization of religion in the sending countries. It shows that the interactions of sending and receiving countries take place in religious terms in a broader transnational space including deterritorialized religious and political actors.

New Book: Why the West Fears Islam – An Exploration of Muslims in Liberal Democracies

Why the West Fears Islam flyer finalWhy the West Fears Islam
An Exploration of Muslims in Liberal Democracies

Jocelyne Cesari

Paperback Aug 2013 – 9781403969538
Hardback Aug 2013 – 9781403969804

About the book
Are Muslims threatening the core values of the West?

Jocelyne Cesari responds to this question by presenting testimonies from Muslims in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. Her book is an unprecedented exploration of Muslim religious and political life based on several years of field work in Europe and in the United States. It provides original insights into the ways Muslims act as believers and citizens and into the specifics of western liberalism  and secularism, particularly after 9/11. It shows how the visibility of Islam in secular spaces triggers  western politics of fear. Its unique interdisciplinary scope allows for an in depth analysis of data polls, political discourses as well as first hand interviews, and focus groups with Muslims.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Shari’a, Burqa, and Minarets: What Is the Problem With Muslims in the West? An Exploration of Islam in Liberal

  1. Muslims As the Internal and External Enemy
  2. Islam: Between Personal and Social Identity Markers
  3. Multiple Communities of Allegiance: How Do Muslims Say ‘We’?
  4. Religiosity, Political Participation, and Civic Engagement
  5. Securitization of Islam in Europe: The Embodiment of Islam As an Exception
  6. How Islam Questions the Universalism of Western Secularism
  7. Salafization of Islamic Norms and Its Influence on the Externalization of Islam

Conclusion: Naked Public Spheres: Islam within Liberal and Secular Democracies

 

About the Author

Jocelyne Cesari, is a political scientist, specializing in contemporary Islamic societies,
globalization and democratization. She is Senior Research Fellow at the Berkley Center
for Peace, Religion and World Affairs at Georgetown University. At Harvard University,
she directs the international research program called “Islam in the West.” She has written
numerous articles and books on Islam, Globalization, Democratization and Secularism in
Western and Muslim-majority contexts.
Her most recent publications include Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States (2007),
Muslims in the West After 9/11: Religion, Politics and Law (2010), The Awakening of
Muslim Democracy: Religion, Modernity and the State (2013).

Praise for the book:

“This book is an eye-opener that denies all sides the luxury of willful ignorance or
unchallenged ideological projection. Bold, sophisticated and almost embarrassingly
informative, Jocelyne Cesari’s effort is certain to elevate the discourse around one of the
most important relationships of our time: that between Muslims and their Western
compatriots.” – Sherman A. Jackson, King Faisal Chair of Islamic Thought and Culture, The
University of Southern California, and author of Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking
Towards the Third Resurrection

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: The terrorists next door?

GEORGETOWN/ ON FAITH | The bombings at the Boston Marathon brings homegrown terrorism back into the spotlight. Suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were born in Russia, but, as President Obama recently, “Why did these young men who grew up and studied here as part of our communities resort to such violence?” Several decades of research on radicalization of Muslims in the United States and Europe could point to some possible answers.

Contrary to comments by Representative Peter King and others that mosques are the major tool for radicalization, data from Gallup and Pew actually shows that membership and engagement in mosque activities lead to greater civic engagement. Neither Tamerlan nor Dzhokhar were active members of a mosque beyond attending services. We also know that American mosques are not tolerant of extremism and tend to expel radical members. In fact the Los Angeles Times reported that Tamerlan was thrown out of a Cambridge mosque just three months ago after he stood up during a Friday sermon to protest against the imam who was praising Martin Luther King Jr. While some cooperation already exists between Muslim leaders and law enforcement, this incident shows the need for greater partnerships in the fight against radicalism.

More significantly, the Boston bombing confirms a trend that has emerged during the last decade toward self-radicalization through the Internet. Dzhokhar has reportedly told authorities that he and his brother were motivated by religion but were acting on their own. Investigators will continue to look into that claim. What is certain is that Tamerlan had a YouTube account with a playlist of radical activists and Islamic preachers such as Australian native, Feiz Mohammad. The online activities of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki are comparable to Mohammad’s speeches found on Tamerlan’s account. There is evidence that al-Awlaki’s online diatribes inspired a number of U.S.-based terrorist incidents, including the Fort Hood shooting carried out by Major Nidal Hasan in 2009, the airline bombing attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in 2009, and the attempted plot by Faisal Shahzad to bomb Times Square in New York City in 2010.

Such a process of radicalization is inherently difficult for policymakers, intelligence organizations, and law enforcement to identify because its starts with intolerant discourses that are legally protected by our right to free speech. That is in part why the FBI could not build a case against Tamerlan in 2011 after his visit to Dagestan. In 2007, the Australian Federal Police reportedly investigated Feiz Mohammad’s sermons because they were suspected of breaking laws against racial hatred, and inciting violence and terrorism. This type of operation is not possible in America where there is no law limiting freedom of speech.

It would be misleading however to suggest that control of online materials would allow us to identify or to combat possible radicalization. Studies of radicals in the United States and Europe have shown that ‘disembeddedness’ from society is a near-prerequisite for engagement in radical groups. And while it might be tempting to attribute the attraction to movements like al-Qaeda to social and economic marginalization, neither Tamerlan nor Dzhokhar were marginalized. Tamerlan married an American who converted to Islam and had a young daughter. Dzhokhar is described by his classmates as an easy-going, good student. This information is consistent with what we know about previous terrorists. John Walker Lindh, for example, is from a well-off, liberal family in California. Faisal Shahzad attended university in the states, gained U.S. citizenship, and lived a seemingly well-integrated life with his wife and children in suburban Connecticut.

Tsarnaev, Lind, and Shahzad do however share one thing in common: they are lone wolves, with weak links to strong communities—ethnic, cultural, or religious. Their disembeddedness may be related to conditions of life in major globalized Western cities, which affect both the well educated and the high school dropout. My own research has found that international cities like Boston, London, Paris and New York tend to erode familial ties. In the absence of strong social networks, permanent contact with multiple cultures can lead some individuals to intolerance. Additionally, it is not by chance that most Muslim radicals in the West are novices within Islam. Whether because of conversion to Islam or because emigration disrupted the normal transmission of tradition, their religious education begins not in the family, but in fundamentalist groups or with radical charismatic preachers.

Self-radicalization through social media, global communication and international travel, enormously complicates American counter-terrorism efforts. The time has come to pay more attention to the social processes that lead to radicalization and less attention to the targeting of entire groups based on immigrant status, ethnicity, or religion.

Jocelyne Cesari is senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, and director of Harvard University’s program on Islam in the West.

The Middle East: Policy Choices for the New Administration

The video of the Middle East Policy Council’s 70th Capitol Hill Conference is now available for on-demand streaming.

Speakers:  

Paul Pillar

Former National Intelligence Officer,
National Intelligence Council; Professor, Georgetown University

Scott McConnell

Founding Editor, The American Conservative

 

Jocelyne Cesari

Co-director, SAIS Global Politics and Religion Initiative; Research Associate, Harvard University

Nathaniel Kern

President, Foreign Reports

 


Moderator:

Thomas R. Mattair

Executive Director, Middle East Policy Council

 

PRESS RECAP

The Middle East: Policy Choices for the New Administration
Post-debate conference highlighted the domestic constraints to foreign policymaking

WASHINGTON, October 17, 2012 — The morning after the 2nd presidential debate between President Obama and Governor Romney, analysts convened for the Middle East Policy Council’s 70th Capitol Hill Conference. The conference addressed policy challenges in the Middle East awaiting the winner of the November election. The event speakers and a summary of their comments are below; for members of the press seeking a full transcript from the event, please e-mail mepc.press@gmail.com. Visit our website for full video from the event.

Thomas Mattair, Executive Director of the Middle East Policy Council, moderated the event. Four distinguished panelists joined him: Scott McConnell (Founding Editor, The American Conservative), Jocelyne Cesari (Co-director, SAIS Global Politics & Religion Initiative), Nathaniel Kern (President, Foreign Reports) and Paul Pillar (Former National Intelligence Officer, National Intelligence Council).

While addressing different topics, each speaker stressed the role of domestic politics — both here in the United States and the Middle East — to influence policymaking on a variety of fronts. Amidst the hyper-partisan climate in the United States at the moment, our speakers were in general agreement about the challenges the two U.S. candidates would ultimately face.

Scott McConnell observed that the powerful Israel lobby is exhibiting “cracks” and that the Democratic Party and mainline churches are tempering their support for Israel. He thinks that a two-state solution will no longer be feasible and the new administration will be challenged to maintain a “special relationship” with Israel while Palestinian interests are not met.

Jocelyne Cesari explained the nuanced political realms in nations transformed by the Arab Awakening and encouraged the next U.S. administration to appreciate the role of Islam in these emerging governments, discard the assumption that democracy is synonymous with secularism, and communicate with domestic societies to change their image of the United States.

Nathaniel Kern described the progress made in the U.S.–Saudi strategic dialogue since 2005 on issues including counter-terrorism, Saudi student visas and oil production but cautioned that the continued stability of U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia could be complicated by a lack of progress on issues like the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and on Iran and Syria.

Paul Pillar conceded there is little the United States can do to shape events in Syria, while advocating a more flexible negotiating posture with Iran that will offer sanctions relief for Iranian cooperation. He thinks that President Obama will be more inclined to seek a diplomatic resolution to the crisis than Governor Romney.

An edited video by speaker, including a full transcript from the event will be posted in a few days at www.mepc.org and then published in the next issue of the journal Middle East Policy.

Contacts:
For interviews or other content associated with this event, please contact Rebecca Leslie– (202) 296 6767 – Rleslie@mepc.org

 

Multiculturalism in Europe

The recent victory of socialist François Hollande in France’s 2012 presidential election was certainly a turning point for the social and economic politics of France. Unfortunately, this is less true when it comes to immigration, race, and culture, evidenced by Hollande saying he would firmly support France’s ban on niqabs, or face-covering Islamic veils, and his stance against Turkish accession to the EU.

François Hollande has made clear that he will address the material conditions and worries of French citizens. But he has been quite silent on questions pertaining to cultural diversity and social cohesion, for the simple reason that he shares with Sarkozy the same conception of French national identity, defined as an abstract community of citizens bound together by principles of equality and liberty. In these conditions, the cultural and religious background of citizens is not part and should not interfere with civic solidarity and public life.

However, such an ideal has been increasingly difficult to uphold when Muslims, among other cultural and regional groups, are claiming their right to express their specificity in public space, which has in turn raised the anxiety and fears of a lot of French citizens. These fears have been the main reason for the long-standing political success of the National Front, from its founder Jean-Marie Le Pen to his daughter Marine, the current leader of the party . At the same time, Muslims of all colors and stripes keep asserting that there is no contradiction between being French and being a Muslim.

Nations or groups need to exist in opposition to an ‘Other,’ and in today’s national imagination, Islam plays that role. It may be impossible for societies to completely rid themselves of this polarizing rhetoric.

That said, societies differ in how much their political imaginations are subjected to open critical discussion. Accordingly, it is necessary for French politicians across the political spectrum to explicitly reject economic and social issues being linked to cultural issues or the ‘Islamization’ of Europe. It is also imperative for policymakers to change the dominant narrative of French national identity by including Islamic culture and history.

Such a change would involve a new education project where, from history to arts and culture, Muslims are not described as the Other. It means acknowledging the cross pollination of philosophical and scientific ideas as well as the multiple encounters of artists, merchants, clerics, and migrants from medieval times to the immigration waves after WWII. Most Muslims already acknowledge France as their home and have made numerous artistic and cultural contributions to the French ‘patrimoine.’ The challenge is to reshape French imagination so Muslims can be seen as legitimate fellow citizens.

 

Jocelyne Cesari, Research Fellow in Political Science and Director, Islam in the West Program, Harvard University