One of the hotly debated topics among counterterrorism professionals in recent years is the extent of radicalization among diaspora Muslims in the West. This debate is often polemical, with allegations of “Jihad denial” being countered by claims of “Islamophobia,” and has taken on major importance In Europe, where Muslim minorities are increasingly restive and are sending young men to fight in the Syrian jihad in numbers that are deeply worrying to European security officials.
The Amsterdam daily NRC Handelsblad has an interesting report on the extent of radicalization among Muslims in Western Europe that has several disturbing revelations. The piece, by Frank Vermeulen and titled “Muslim Fundamentalism in Western Europe No Marginal Phenomenon”, is translated below (and it should be noted that Handelsblad is a left-of-center paper, not prone to Islamophobia):
Muslim fundamentalism is not, as is often thought, a marginal phenomenon in Western Europe. From research in the Netherlands and five other European countries, it now emerges that two-thirds of questioned Muslims consider their religious laws more important that the laws of the countries in which they live.
Aside from this, three-quarters feel that the Koran can only be interpreted one way. In addition, Dutch Muslims are stricter with respect to the teachings than Muslims in Germany, for example.
Sociologist Ruud Koopmans, director of the migration research group of the WZB Social Science Research Center Berlin that published that information this week, says that the difference between Dutch and German Muslims is remarkable. That is to say that it gives the lie to the prevailing idea that fundamentalism is a reaction to institutional exclusion, he explains today in NRC Handelsblad:
“And that is evidently not so, as Muslims have noticeably fewer rights in Germany than in the Netherlands. To put it more strongly, not in one single European country do Muslims have as many rights as in the Netherlands.”
Survey Among 9,000 Turkish and Moroccan Migrants
The research is based on a rather broad telephone survey among 9,000 Turkish and Moroccan migrants and 3,000 native people as a comparison group with respect to the consequences of labor migration in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Austria and Sweden in 2008.
In the interview with this newspaper, Koopmans warns that fundamentalist views mostly go together with hostile images of homosexuals and Jews, for example:
“There are disturbingly large numbers of Muslims — 45 percent — who feel that Jews are not to be trusted. A similar number believe that the West wants to annihilate Islam.
Naturally there are 20 percent of natives in the Netherlands who believe the reverse — that the Muslims want to annihilate the West — and that is where Geert Wilders gets his votes. In an absolute sense, that is more people. That is also a big problem. Yet those hostile images are much more widespread among Muslims.”
Hostile Image Can Be a Growth Medium for Violence
Apart from this, Koopmans thinks that this fundamentalist hostile image can be a growth medium for violence:
“Fortunately, of course, only a fraction of all the millions of Muslims in Europe are prepared to cross over to violence — but at this moment, from all over Western Europe, we have some 2,000 jihad fighters who are learning to handle heavy weapons in Syria. When they are likely to come back traumatized, that is something about which to worry.”
This needs to be said————a LOT !!!
There’s a lot of confused “knee jerk” protectiveness here in the belly of the “Progressive” beast.
I do believe I’ll re-blog this one—with thanks !
What I do not understand is why travel from European and American countries to and from Syria is not more stringently policed. Surely we recognize the huge threat that radicalized and trained Jihadis represent so why do we allow anyone to go to Syria and come back? I understand we have all these legal limits and such for citizens but surely we can stop non-citizens from re-entering the country? Hell, we are so on top of al-Shabab recruitment you can hardly say the word in Minneapolis without being gang tackled by the FBI.
It just strikes me as an extremely dangerous situation, outside from the actual war itself. Listening to Hegghammer recently talk about the vast, historic numbers of foreign fighters in Syria was extremely disheartening. We won’t be able to suss out the full impact of their participation in Syria and the effects on regional stability and international terrorism for years. But it’s sure as hell not shaping up to be good.
Nice to see you blogging about about this issue.
1. What precisely constitutes as “fundamentalist” views?
2. Moroccans and Turks only represent their respective communities. Not all Muslims.
3. Considering the mess that is Israel-Palestine issue or the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, I don’t see any issues with Muslim distrust of Jews. We didn’t exactly trust Russians during Cold War.
If anything this study goes to show that we in the West have done a relatively poor job of communicating our side of the story. In fact, BNP, Golden Dawn and Geert Wilders of the West have essentially become our self-appointed representatives. Now its quite easy for someone to become angry over something but its far more difficult to pin point who and where that anger should be pointed towards. The responsibilities lies on us to communicate those objectives and not let “fundamentalists” on our side to represent us and add fuel to the fire. Sadly the exact opposite is happening.
The Wall Street Journal had a great article on December 26 about children of Muslims living in Europe traveling to Syria for jihad. This is a troubling situation as some of the parents supported the children to go to Syria. It appears from the article the children are more radical than their parents.
In a way, this movement to travel to Syria is a blessing as it keeps the European countries from dealing with these types – if the jihadis are killed in Syria. The Europeans are not ready to deal with these jihadis when they return home. How will Europe deal with battle trained and ready fighters when they are back home? I have to disagree with Koopmans’s thinking that these people will return traumatized by their experiences in Syria. They will return motivated and need an outlet for their radicalism.
Also, Muslims need to grow up as a community. If they want and “deserve” rights, so do the Christians and Jews. Unfortunately, the violence in the Middle East and the phone surveys conducted above show a different story.
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