Kenan Malik in Pandaemonium:
This is an essay I have written for Foreign Affairs. It draws upon, and interweaves, the themes of my lecture at the University of Michigan on ‘The Making of European Jihadis’, which provides an extended critique of the radicalisation thesis, and my previous essay for Foreign Affairs on ‘The Failure of Multiculturalism’, which explored at length the problems of both multicultural and assimilationist social policies. That essay is now in the 2015 anthology of the best articles in Foreign Affairs. This new essay was originally published under the headline ‘Europe’s Dangerous Multiculturalism’.
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What it is that draws thousands of young Europeans to jihadism and violence? What is it that has led 4000 to travel to Syria to fight for the so-called Islamic State? And what is it that leads European citizens to engage in such barbarous carnage such as that we witnessed last month in Paris?
The conventional answer is that they have become ‘radicalized’, a process through which vulnerable Muslims are groomed for extremist violence by those who champion hate. The radicalization argument consists of four broad elements. The first is the claim that people become terrorists because they acquire certain, usually religiously informed, extremist ideas. The second is that these ideas are acquired in a different way to that in which people acquire other extremist or oppositional ideas. The third is that there is a conveyor belt that leads from grievance, to religiosity, to the adoption of radical beliefs, to terrorism. And the fourth is the insistence that what makes people vulnerable to acquiring such ideas is that they are poorly integrated into society.
The trouble is that these assumptions, which underlie much of Europe’s domestic counterterrorism policy, are wrong.