Minarets raise questions for Austrians, too

The construction of minarets is controversial not just in Switzerland – where a vote on the issue takes place in November – but also in neighboring Austria. Yet Austria is unique in western Europe in that Islam has been a recognized religion in the country for more than 100 years, since the time when the Habsburg empire was also home to Bosnians.

But there were few Muslims living in what is now Austria. The first mosque, in Vienna, dates back only to 1979 and owes its existence to Muslim immigration following the Second World War. Since then the Muslim population has almost trebled, and the demand for more mosques has grown – along with resistance from rightwing parties.

Muslims of Europe: The ‘Other’ Europeans

The interchange between Muslims and Europe has a long and complicated history, dating back to before the idea of ‘Europe’ was born, and the earliest years of Islam. There has been a Muslim presence on the European continent before, but never has it been so significant, particularly in Western Europe. With more Muslims in Europe than in many countries of the Muslim world, they have found themselves in the position of challenging what it means to be a European in a secular society of the 21st century. At the same time, the European context has caused many Muslims to re-think what is essential to them in religious terms in their new reality.

In this work, H.A. Hellyer analyses the prospects for a European future where pluralism is accepted within unified societies, and the presence of a Muslim community that is of Europe, not simply in it. He draws upon his
academic expertise in a variety of disciplines, including sociology, politics and religious studies, in order to give the reader a thorough theoretical backdrop. Uniquely, he combines this knowledge with his background as an independent scholar engaged in policy networks and institutions. The result is a work that has drawn critical acclaim from some of the most noted scholars in the West on a very important topic.

Biography of H.A. Hellyer
H.A. Hellyer is Fellow at the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations at the University of Warwick (UK) and Director of the West Muslim world relations research consultancy, the Visionary Consultants Group (UK, Egypt & Malaysia). A United Nations ŒGlobal Expert¹ on minority-majority relations, political philosophy, and the interplay between religion and modernity, Dr. Hellyer was Ford Fellow of the Project on US Islamic World Relations at
the Brookings Institution.

As Senior Research Fellow at Warwick University, he was ESRC Placement Fellow at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office from October 2007 to April 2008, offering independent advice on Muslim European communities. In the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings, Dr Hellyer was nominated as Deputy Convenor of the UK Government¹s Home Office working group on Muslim communities, to provide independent counsel and critique.

A prolific commentator in Western media and media in the Muslim world, he is currently completing work on his next book entitled ³Muslims on the Margins: Muslim Minorities in Southeast Asia, Africa and the West².

Please visit www.hahellyer.com for further information about the book and the author.

Muslims and the State in the Post-9/11 West

This book assembles leading scholars to analyze the complicated relations between governments and Muslim minorities in Western Europe and the United States in the context of rising concerns about terrorism and security. An introductory article by Erik Bleich precedes essays by Shamit Saggar, Jytte Klausen, Frank Buijs, John Bowen and Christian Joppke.

According to the United States, Spain remains “important logistical base” for terrorists

According to its annual report on terrorism, the U.S. State Department stated that “Spain remained an important transit and logistical base for terrorist organizations operating in Western Europe.” The State Department also said that Spain’s government and citizenry “were concerned that their country remained a principal target of domestic terrorism and Islamic extremism.” During 2008, Spain made 65 arrests of persons suspected of Islamic terrorism, including alleged sympathizers of groups like al-Qaeda. Despite the ongoing threat within Spain, the State Department said that Spain has made great efforts to prevent terrorists from getting access to its national financial institutions.

This news article highlights the importance of transnational cooperation in the fight against terrorism, and the reality that in order to strengthen its intelligence in areas of national security, international agencies require the working together across national lines and boundaries.

Europe unfriendly to Muslims, Princeton scholar says

Many Muslims today struggle to integrate into Western society, but those in the U.S. are better off than those in Europe, said Islamic scholar Ralph Ghadban during a lecture Monday at Ohio State. “Many of the millions of Muslims that have moved to the West wish not to integrate into society,” Ghadban said. As a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies of Princeton University, Ghadban spoke in a small conference room in Hagerty Hall, with only 15 people in attendance. The lecture, “Islamic Law of Muslim Minorities in the West” was sponsored by the Middle East Studies Center and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. “[Ghadban] is not a traditional scholar,” said Arabic professor Georges Tamer. “He has practical experience that combines Islamic studies with political science and philosophy.” Ghadban said that during their integration to the West, Muslims are confronted with new norms and customs, as well as a new structure of society. Most importantly, they must abide by a secular law system, which they have never or barely been confronted with in their home countries, he said. A third of the 1.2 to 1.4 billion Muslims in the world are minorities in 149 non-Islamic countries, and 25 to 30 million of them live in Western Europe and North America, he said. With the exception of black converts, the majority of Muslims living in the West came to the Western world during the modern migration period of the second half of the 20th century. He said that Muslim immigrants follow Sharia law, which is a form of Islamic justice often criticized for its brutal physical punishments, including flogging and execution by stoning. Sharia punishment is often enforced against women found guilty of offenses such as premarital sex and adultery. Mariam Khan reports.

Author Ian Buruma on Wilders’ Politics: ‘Condemning Islam, Per Se, Is Unhelpful’

In a SPIEGEL ONLINE interview, Dutch author Ian Buruma discusses the run-up to the release of Gert Wilders’ anti-Islam film, populist trends in the Netherlands and the environment that the led to polemics against Muslims like “Fitna.” Dutch populist politician Geert Wilders released on Thursday his video comparing the threat of Islam in Europe to the fascism that triggered World War II. The film calls for Europeans to put a stop to what he alleges is the Islamization of Western Europe caused by mass immigration from Turkey, North Africa and the Middle East. It’s a kind of rhetoric that would have been impossible in the Netherlands little more than a decade ago — a country long known abroad as a kind of overgrown Berkeley, a bastion of 1960s idealism. Cops looked the other way as coffee shops sold soft drugs, it became one of the first countries to adopt same-sex marriages and the peaceful co-existence of Dutch society with its immigrants, many of the Muslim, seemed exemplary.

Dutch police arrest suspected terrorist

Dutch authorities have arrested a 26-year old from Pakistan who is suspected of being an Islamic militant and planning attacks in Western Europe. The man was arrested in the southern town of Breda, and belongs to the same group behind a thwarted attack in Barcelona. According to sources, the man arrived in the Netherlands in September 2007 to follow a vocational course, but followed few lessons, and had been under surveillance since January. Police seized property including two cellular phones and a computer as evidence. Justice officials said that there are no indications that the man was involved in the planning of attacks in the Netherlands, but allegedly belongs to an international terrorist network and the police decided to arrest him in order to prevent terrorist activities.

Jihadi Terrorism and the Radicalisation Challenge in Europe

In early 2003 Egmont-Royal Institute for International Relations organised a major international conference in Brussels on international terrorism, under the heading ‘Root Causes of International Terrorism’. At that moment the very notion that there existed underlying forces that shaped the context and causes that led to 9/11 looked self-evident to academics, but was still very much a taboo concept in policy circles. Research within the Egmont-Royal Institute for International Relations has since revolved around two questions: first, how exactly the global environment boosts local and regional terrorism, and, second, how does this relate to the radicalisation process, which is occurring within Europe too.

Jihadi Terrorism and the Radicalisation Challenge in Europe grew out of a series of public conferences, seminars and informal brainstormings with many stakeholders from diverse horizons involved. It is articulated around these two themes. First, it establishes the state of jihadi terrorism today, almost two decades after it started in the early 1990s. Second, zooming in on Europe, it addresses the issue of radicalisation as the main root cause of potential jihadi terrorism in this part of the world (Rik Coolsaert).

Often dubbed as a ’global threat’, most observers analyze the terrorist threat as a patchwork of self-radicalizing local groups with international contacts but without a central engine or any central organizational design. Jihadi terrorism is composed of one major root cause in an enabling global environment and a multitude of local root causes depending on the countries involved.

Focusing on the situation of jihadi terrorism and radicalization in Europe, this volume looks at the growing tendency of self-radicalization and self-recruitment of individuals. It provides both a precise state of the threat as well as a thorough analysis of the radicalization process. Aimed at an audience of policy makers, academia and think tanks, the volume combines a theoretical approach with novel thinking and ’out of the box’ policy recommendations (Ashgate).

Table of Contents

    Foreword by Gijs de Vries
    Introduction by Rik Coolsaet
    PART ONE: The State of the Threat   

  • Jihadi Terrorism: A Global Assessment of the Threat in the Post al-Qaeda Era by Paul R. Pillar
  • Jihadi Terrorism: Perception and Reality in Perspective by Rik Coolsaet and Teun Van de Voorde
  • ’New’ vs. ’Old’ Terrorism: A Critical Appraisal by Martha Crenshaw
    PART TWO: Jihadi Terrorism Around the World   

  • Logics of Jihadi Violence in North Africa by Hugh Roberts
  • Kinship and Radicalisation Process in Jamaah Islamiyah’s Transnational Terrorist Organisation by Noor Huda Ismail
  • Jihadi Terrorists in Europe and Global Salafi Jihadis by Edwin Bakker
  • The Islamist Networks in Belgium: Between Nationalism and Globalisation by Alain Grignard
    PART THREE: Radicalisation in Western Europe: The Root Causes   

  • Muslims in Europe and the Risk of Radicalism by Jocelyne Cesari
  • Al-Qaeda: A True Global Movement by Olivier Roy
  • Dutch Extremist Islamism: Van Gogh’s Murderer and His Ideas by Rudolph Peters
    PART FOUR: Radicalisation in Western Europe: The Answers   

  • (De-)Escalating Radicalisation: The Debate within Muslim and Immigrant Communities by Tarik Fraihi
  • De-radicalisation and the Role of Police Forces by Glenn Audenaert
  • The EU Response to Radicalisation and Recruitment to Terrorism by Gilles de Kerchove and Ran van Reedt Dortland
    Epilogue: Zeitgeist and (De-)Radicalisation by Rik Coolsaet and Tanguy Struye de Swielande

Muslim immigration issue still roils Europe: Netherlands leads debate over policies

Ehsan Jami sees himself as the legendary Dutch boy who used his finger to plug a leaking dike. Jami, a Dutch politician, is trying to prevent a flood of what he views as intolerant Muslim immigrants threatening to overrun the Netherlands and all of Europe. He’s not alone. In France, Germany and across Western Europe, a vigorous public debate is under way over preservation of national identities, the assimilation of minorities and tolerance of different cultures. Shelley Emling reports.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: A refugee from Western Europe

By Sam Harris and Salman Rushdie As you read this, Ayaan Hirsi Ali sits in a safe house with armed men guarding her door. She is one of the most poised, intelligent and compassionate advocates of freedom of speech and conscience alive today, and for this she is despised in Muslim communities throughout the world. The details of her story have been widely reported, but bear repeating, as they illustrate how poorly equipped we are to deal with the threat of Muslim extremism in the West. Hirsi Ali first fled to the Netherlands as a refugee from Somalia in 1992 after declining to submit to a forced marriage to a man she did not know. Once there, in hiding from her family, she began working as a cleaning lady. But this cleaning lady spoke Somali, Arabic, Amharic, Swahili, English and was quickly learning Dutch, so she soon found work as a translator for other Somali refugees, many of whom, like herself, were casualties of Islam…