Eurabia, Shurabia: More evidence against the notion that Western culture is succumbing to radical Islamism
You hear a lot of breathless talk about “Eurabia” these days. I confess, I can’t take it seriously—and here’s why.
From 2008 to 2010, I conducted research for the UK’s Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism into radicalization among Muslims in Britain. After 25 in-depth interviews with ex-extremists and days talking to people in mosques, community centers, and homes, I concluded that “pessimism about radicalization in Britain is not supported by the interviews.”
I argued that radicalization was a tormented performance of identity by individuals caught in the trap that had been set by two historically contingent developments.
First, radicalization was given its chance by the “environment of vulnerability” in which many young British Muslims have lived, especially since the early 1980s, and by the consequent “crisis-feeling” many have experienced.
Second, there was an extended and entirely catastrophic political and intellectual failure to contest the Islamist framework and cognitive praxis that subsequently exploited that vulnerability. Young, idealistic, and searching individuals—in some ways, the best of their generation—were essentially left as defenseless prey to Islamists on the prowl. Idealistic or dislocated (or both), naive or adventurous (or both), many of these individuals were drawn into the “Islamist encounter” and, unsurprisingly, some then took the “Islamist detour”—radicalization.
I urged optimism on the UK government. With enough resources, political will, and skilful counter-framing by local activists, both of these problems—the environment of vulnerability and the failure to effectively contest the framework and activism of Islamists on the prowl—are reparable. I argued that a “silent revolution” was under way—a tremendous rise in political and cultural participation among second- and third-generation Muslims—and this would form a favourable terrain on which a future counter-radicalizing practice could flourish.