Political narratives of radicalism

The notion of radicalization has been the subject of much ink in recent years, but remains relatively confused. States seeking to deal with it have put in place various measures whose real effectiveness remains difficult to assess, and which very often produce unexpected effects.

The policies to combat radicalization carried out by many states mobilize measures ranging from simple surveillance to the incarceration of suspects in dedicated detention zones (France), torture (United States, Egypt) or the mass internment of more than a million people. Muslims (China). The very concept of radicalization, omnipresent in public debate since the various waves of terrorist attacks that have affected numerous countries since 2001, has established itself as a THE major public problem. This focus on so-called Islamic radicalization, never clearly defined by journalists who appropriate this term, has brought Islam and Muslims to the forefront by stigmatizing them in the name of a guilt by association (p. 154). Thus, numerous academic works attempt to explain the motives and processes of radicalization by different factors, still under debate. On the other hand, little research has looked at the responses provided by states to deal with it.; This is what this work aptly addresses. This demonstrates that public policies to combat radicalization generally seem to achieve consensus despite a lack of perspective on their effectiveness. As no stable and satisfactory definition of this concept has been established, it seems difficult to identify its contours and, consequently, the best way to fight against it.

Furthermore, the extent of media coverage of this phenomenon contrasts with the very limited number of individuals concerned. Finally, the fight against radicalization has allowed the emergence of an entire field of professionals who have every interest in making the threat exist to justify their activity. In other words, the work demonstrates that radicalization and counter-radicalization coexist and shape each other (p. 35). It is in this sense that Didier Bigo and Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet affirm that

European counterterrorism policies are likely not only to undermine the democratic principles, institutions and processes they seek to preserve, but also to produce unintended consequences, triggering violence rather than discouraging it (p. 35).

If the risk of terrorist violence undoubtedly requires adequate security management on the part of states in order to ensure the security of the entire population, the authors underline the exacerbation of the place given to Islamic radicalization to the detriment of other forms of threat (small groups far right, independence movements, radical protest groups). Furthermore, the desire to prevent the passage of the act ever further in advance has led to measures whose effectiveness as well as the effects on freedoms, and more particularly on those of Muslims, raise questions. Indeed, the work demonstrates through the study of 11 different cases (China, France, the United States, Pakistan, Niger, Denmark, Bosnia, Chechnya, Syria, Niger and Indonesia) that the fight against radicalization has not been without perverse effects.

Preventing radicalization ever further upstream

The different radicalization prevention strategies adopted by the countries studied converge in the implementation of surveillance and sanction measures for Muslims ever further upstream, raising questions in terms of fundamental rights, ethnic and racial discrimination and social cohsion. (p. 34) Indeed, it is no longer just a question of condemning individuals for proven acts of terrorism, but of assessing the degree of danger of Muslims who have not committed the act, on questionable criteria. This surveillance fuels a logic of suspicion leading to forms of exclusion, discipline and censorship with a view to preventive and predictive management of risks giving rise to liberticidal excesses. This prevalence of security over freedoms poses a problem, because it endangers the very principle on which the rule of law is based.

What's more, the entire society is enjoined to participate in the enterprise of mass surveillance through the reporting of individuals suspected primarily of crimes of opinion. It is in this sense that certain professionals in fields distinct from those of security and intelligence are given new reporting missions, particularly in the education and health sector. The same applies to ordinary civilians, particularly within Muslim communities, including local partners from the communities themselves (p. 160), or, in other words, actors chosen within mosques or Muslim associations, monitor and denounce their co-religionists doubtful. The reasons for these reports, however, are often simple ordinary religious practices (wearing a beard or veil, praying in the mosque). We thus note an increasingly anticipatory dimension of justice, in which the suspicion of dangerousness, here linked to religiosity, prevails over real guilt.

Make war but who?

The fight against terrorism has taken different forms, one, the most aggressive, leading to real armed conflicts as is the case with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. There war on terror thus gave rise to the construction of extra-judicial internment camps (China, United States, Egypt). Another more soft (England, France), focused on the rehabilitation and reintegration of defendants, but both converged towards authoritarian security policies. These policies aimed at protecting populations from a global threat, both external and internal, have crossed the lines of cleavage between groups within society, just as they have reinforced the polarization of the world into supposedly opposing civilizational blocs by constructing an extremely critical hegemonic narrative. around bad Islam. In countries where Islam is a minority religion, it is the entire group of Muslims who bear the stigma of deviance, with a racialized vision of the threat (p. 69), whereas in the Muslim majority countries in question (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, Niger) it will be specific to a group labeled as deviant. Moreover, this deviance is attributed more widely to all those who challenge, in one way or another, the established order.

During the uprisings that the Arab world has experienced since 2010, many authoritarian states have used this lever as a tool of repression, by disqualifying protesters and punishing them. Thus, in the United Arab Emirates for example, the Muslim Brotherhood organization is officially recognized as a terrorist organization whose affiliation can lead to imprisonment or even the death penalty. Generally speaking, if the presumption of guilt (p. 22) which weighs on the suspects is based on non-palpable criteria, it has material (loss of job), psychological (anxiousness, social isolation) and legal repercussions that are very real.

(R)educate good islam and reform Islam

Muslim countries were the first to put in place measures to combat radicalization. This is the case of Egypt since the 1990s, then of Saudi Arabia, the Emirates then Iraq (timeline p. 94). Moreover, it is interesting to note that the fight against radicalization also takes place on a semantic level. In Pakistan, where this is notably combated by the promotion of a reinvented Sufism, we speak for example of shaitanization (shaytan meaning the devil) or Talibanization (p. 105).

Furthermore, these states seem to have taken the ideological and religious dimension of these violent commitments more seriously than their political dimension. It is in this sense that they have set up centers of reduction religion promoting moderate and liberal Islam as the main remedy for extremism and that they do not simply force suspects to renounce violence as a mode of action. Thus, they make religious ideology the sinews of the war that they are precisely trying to fight. by She. In other words, it is a matter of trying to get suspects to adhere to another vision of Islam that is less visible in the public space, less subversive and more in line with the dominant norm. That said, this vision helped to reinforce the presupposition of a cause and effect link between degree of religiosity and violent commitment, which however has not been demonstrated so clearly.

Some countries have also focused on the construction of a moderate Islam and the promotion of a more or less radical assimilation project, promoting an understanding of Islam which rehabilitates the religious (official) and political authority of the country and strengthens its legitimacy. However, for many authoritarian states, it is a question of promoting a vision of Islam as opposed to democracy as violent extremism or even all moderate forms of protest in order to remain in place. Thus, extremism is redefined to encompass all forms of opposition and challenge to power, making it easy to get rid of opponents.

This work allows us to understand the global dimension of the phenomenon of combating radicalization on different scales, its uses and the hegemony of the narrative given to it by states which use it as a discursive tool making it possible to justify questionable security policies, targeting Muslims in particular.

In France, the state of emergency in the post-attack context has accentuated the moral panic around Islam, justifying the strengthening of state control, particularly over the associative fabric and places of worship, and once again placing the question of the visibility of Islam at the center of public attention; A problem which has, a priori, no direct link with the issues linked to national security. However, the fight against radicalization and its signs weak fueled the construction of an Islam that undermines not only the security of the country, but also the values ​​of society as a whole and national identity. In this specific case it is also a question of fighting against group particularities and values ​​perceived as foreign to Frenchness and threatening it, the adoption of secular norms being a condition. sine qua non acceptance in public space. Thus, as elsewhere, radicalization and its shifting, debatable borders have made it possible to define the contours of a bad Islam too much visible against which we must fight, as opposed to a good islam that can be tolerated and controlled. The work further demonstrates that all the states studied seek to control the discourse that is made on Islam and use it as a resource to strengthen their legitimacy and disqualify opponents, muzzle them or even punish them. France is therefore not an exception and, just like its peers, its policy of combating radicalization helps it control and define both Islam and the right way to belong to the national project.