Conference: Religious Minorities' Self-Representations

Panel 5A

“Not My Islam” – Violent Extremism and the Effects of Securitisation

Chair: Mariecke van den Berg (Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University)
Room: Sweelinckzaal, Drift 21

‘“This Is Not Islam”: American, British and Dutch Muslims Denouncing Violent Extremism Through Hashtag Activism’ – Sakina Loukili (MA Student, Department of History, European Studies & Religious Studies, University of Amsterdam)
After the attack on Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 and subsequent terror attacks in Europe of recent years, a common complaint heard in the West has been that ‘moderate’ Muslims do not condemn terrorism that has been carried out in the name of Islam. In response, Western Muslims have initiated a variety of ways to handle the issue. Muslim youth in particular, have made use of hashtag campaigns to respond to the pressure of speaking out. In my presentation, I look at three of these campaigns related to three different national contexts to see how Muslims have dealt with the demand to denounce violent extremism. In addition, I relate the data to useful concepts within social movement theory and to developments in contemporary Islamic thought.

‘Muslims Condemning Violent Extremism in Norway: A Multiple Critique’ – M.A. van Es (Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University)
Since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, European Muslims have been urged to explicitly denounce terrorism. Many Muslims feel that they are under constant pressure to present themselves as “peaceful” and “loyal” citizens. In this paper, I analyse public initiatives by Muslims against violent extremism. I focus on three case studies from Oslo, Norway: a protest march against the murder of Theo van Gogh in 2004; a protest march against ISIS in 2014, and a symbolic “Ring of Peace” formed around the Oslo synagogue short after the Charlie Hebdo shootings in 2015. I explain that these events can be seen as a “multiple critique” (Cooke 2000). Through these initiatives, Muslims not only make strong statements against violent extremism; they also challenge stereotypical images of Islam as a violent religion, and they even question the terms and conditions under which they supposedly have to make such statements.

‘Hands off my People! Constructing a Vulnerable Community in Jihadist Discourse and the Question of Justice’ – Lucien van Liere (Professor, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University)
Radicalization is often seen as a process in which the individual drops his or her rationality and accepts violence as a possibility to achieve goals. However, discourses from jihadist show a different concern. Many justify choices and actions as an attempt to defend their communities against aggressors, referring to “women and children” that are under threat or violated. They refer to harm and pain done to ‘their’ communities and a world that shies away from justice. In this presentation I will focus on collections of interviews and individual statements, and try to grasp how jihadis construe their community as a vulnerable community opposite ruthless violence. I will show that while justifying their own violent actions, many present their violence as retaliation. This justification-frame is also present in state-perspectives on actions in past and present.