Panel: Islamism and parallel societies

I celebrated this 8th of March discussing women’s rights and parallel societies in Europe at a conference in Brussels organized by The Wilfried Martens Centre and the AJC. Amazing panel with Prof. Dr. Ruud Koopmans (Director, Research Unit Migration, Integration, Transnationalization, WZB Berlin Social Science Center), Dr. Lorenzo Vidino (Director, Program on Extremism, George Washington University),  PD Dr. Elham Manea (University of Zurich and Senior Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy) and Roland Freudenstein (Policy Director, Martens Centre). Watch it here:

The Wilfried Martens Centre writes:

It is natural for immigration, at least in the beginning, to lead to the creation of separate neighborhoods as new arrivals tend to settle near relatives, friends or simply compatriots from the old homeland. It used to be equally natural that after a generation or two, real integration would set in.

Islamism in Europe is disrupting this successful model by turning immigrant neighborhoods into parallel societies: territories in European cities in which the core principles of our constitutions are to varying degrees disregarded. This is a threat not only because it creates the environment in which radicalization towards jihadist terrorism can thrive. It also endangers social cohesion in a much broader sense by undermining the acceptance of our constitutional values among immigrants.

While Salafist groups, Wahabist influence from Saudi Arabia, Turkey’s DITIB and different branches of the Muslim Brotherhood are using a broad array of cultural, religious and political instruments to separate Muslims from the rest of society, creeping cultural relativism among some in the media, politics and academia, supports this dangerous process of “rationalizing” different laws and norms for Muslims.

The aim of this panel debate is to analyse Islamist techniques in different European environments and to reflect on the role of authorities and media and possible counter-strategies.


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