Zaman interview with Dounia Bouzar on radical Islam

January 16, 2014

 

Anthropologist of religion and expert at the National Observatory of Secularism, Dounia Bazar addresses the issue of radical Islam in her latest work, ‘Countering Radical Islam’ in which she delivers the fruits of her fifteen years of analyses on this minority phenomena that nonetheless often gets conflated with the entirety of the French Muslim population. In her interview with Zaman, Bouzar emphasizes that radicalism has nothing to do with Islam, but is the result of a psychological process.

Bouzar states that she wrote the book for two audiences: the Islamophobes and the Islamophiles (educators, intellectuals, non-Muslim thinkers of Islam). According to her, they are two sides of the same coin because both groups perceive Muslims as a homogenous entity, whether inferior or simply different, and ultimately they both contribute to the same line of thinking as the extreme right-wing party, the National Front.  Bouzar stresses how one needs to distinguish between Islam and its radical forms since maintaining the confusion benefits radicals and Islamophobes alikes.

Bouzar defines radical Islam as a discourse that relies on self-exclusion or the exclusion of others, and leads to a process of identity rupture. It deploys all the psychological tools of cultish movements: breaking with civilization, destruction of personal and family history, the myth of a purified group withholding ‘ultimate truth’, and the replacement of rationality with imitation. Young people under 30 in particular, who have no other form of religious transmission, are prone to being drawn to this kind of discourse on the internet.

Another characteristic of cultish movements is the establishment of indomitable symbolic barriers between members and the ‘evil’ society around them. This leads to an overt religious exhibition, such as the wearing of long beards and the niqab. These displays have nothing to do with testing the State, it is more about self-protection and the preservation of purity in today’s world in decline.  It also has nothing to do with Islamism – Islamists have a political agenda while radical puritans have an almost apocalyptical project to save the world.

Bouzar has in fact been a long-time supporter of religious visibility in France, and was one of the first to work on ‘Frenchisization’ of the headscarf. Taking into account that Islam is a culturally adaptable religion, and that the French wish to see a visibly ‘French woman’, Bouzar developed the idea of a scarf that would be esthetically compatible with France’s cultural heritage. She was equally against the move to ban headscarved mothers from participating in school trips, because it is precisely visibility – not hiding one’s Muslim identity due to already feeling at home – that is a sign of true integration.

Those attracted to extreme discourses have the feeling that society doesn’t offer them a place and role to play. Banning veiled mothers from schools sends precisely the message to children that their kind do not have place in society, and that they are in fact ‘banned’ from society.

Bouzar challenges the idea that French Muslims have an inherent sectarian attitude towards the rest of society. She affirms that a problem of social ghettoization exists, but it is not of the ghetto’s own accord. French Muslims in fact believe in the promises of the République, and the role of politicians should be to guarantee them a place in society.

 

Source: http://www.zamanfrance.fr/article/dounia-bouzar-on-diagnostique-lislam-radical-a-effets-rupture-7273.html?utm_source=newsletter-karisik-liste&utm_campaign=d99f3b8a60-Zamanfrance+17_01_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2d6e3a9a0e-d99f3b8a60-315962845&utm_source=newsletter-karisik-liste&utm_campaign=cf4a6c4c8f-Zamanfrance+21_01_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2d6e3a9a0e-cf4a6c4c8f-315948881

Contemporary Muslim Consumer Cultures – an Emerging Field of Study

Consumer culture in the Muslim world, or Muslims as a specific target group who participate actively in a consumer market, are rather new realms for academic researchers. For many Muslims, consumption plays an increasing role in identity formation. Their growing cultural and religious self-awareness transforms markets, advertising strategies and consumer behavior. Muslim consumer culture is closely interrelated to globalization and is, therefore, of relevance to various areas of economic, sociological, anthropological, psychological and religious scholarship. However, so far scholarly research on this subject has been very limited. And though studies very often acknowledge or include the interdisciplinary character of Muslim consumer culture, there is still a need for a comprehensive analysis of its many aspects.

The conference aims at creating a network of international scholars and young researchers with various approaches to the subject, and it also aims at initiating exchange and cooperation between them to develop the basic grounds for this emerging field of study. It will include two invited keynote speakers, two panel discussions led by experts, and a number of workshops during which all participants will have the opportunity to present and discuss their research projects. There will be no more than 20 speakers to allow useful discussion. We especially encourage applications from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Submissions of abstracts and papers on the following broad themes are encouraged:

  • Issues of advertising products for a Muslim target group 
  
  • Gender-specific consumption behavior in a Muslim context 

  • “Western” versus “Islamic” brands 
  
  • The question whether there is such a thing as an Islamic consumer, and how it can be defined 
 Products geared toward a religious public (e.g. Islamic fashion) 
  
  • Recent developments in the consumer landscape of Muslim societies 
  
  • Religious and moral factors affecting individual patterns of consumption or legislation, e.g. questions of ritual purity.

All papers that are submitted by the start of the conference and successfully complete a peer-review process will be published in a concerence volume.

Please submit your application, including an abstract of about 150-200 words and a short c.v., by May 15, 2008, preferrably by e-mail. Registration fee is 50 €; lodging, breakfast and lunch meals will be provided. We offer a reimbursement of travel costs for participants from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Turkey, the Americas and the countries of the former Soviet Union if their institution is not able to cover them.

Contact: Freie Universität Berlin, Institut für Islamwissenschaft, Dr. Johanna Pink, Altensteinstr. 40, 14195 Berlin, Germany, phone: +49 (0) 30-838-51437, fax: +49 (0) 30-838-52830, e-mail: jpink@zedat.fu-berlin.de.

Majority of asylum seekers are victims of violence

In an international study carried out in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the UK, data reveals that most asylum speakers are victims of violence when they arrive in Europe. The University of Ghent collected and analyzed the data. 62% of asylum seekers and refugees were confronted with emotional/psychological violence, and 57% were confronted with sexual violence, while 47% experienced some other type of physical violence.

Norway: Muslim child placed with lesbian foster family

A Muslim mother reacted severely after her child was placed into the care of lesbian foster parents in Trondheim. The municipality states that they think they have handled things correctly. The child has many psychological problems, as do the parents of the child, who experienced torture in their homeland. Jorid Midtlyng of the municipal council wrote a letter to the Muslim community saying that due to the children’s need, the decision to place the child in the care of a lesbian couple was the necessary.