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Islamophobia as reactive co-radicalization

Causes of radicalisationIdeologiesRadicalisationRegionsWorld

Islam and Christian-Muslim RelationsJournal abstract

Since 9/11, 2001, a new form of religious extremism has arguably emerged, one which paradoxically portrays itself as a counter to another perceived extremism regarded as a real and imminent threat. Within North America and Western Europe, as elsewhere, there is an upsurge of various forms of reactionary rhetoric and opposition expressed towards Islam and Muslims. An increase in extremist behaviour, even violence, is appearing from quarters opposed to, or varyingly fearful of, Islamic extremism if not Islam or Muslims. Islamophobia, as a manifestation of fear of an exclusionary Islam, manifests as exclusionary or negatively reactive behaviours with Muslims and Islam as the target. This article explores the idea that Islamophobia can be regarded as a manifestation of religious extremism and, further, that such extremism is construable as “reactive co-radicalization.” It focuses on two European cases – the 2009 Swiss ban on the building of minarets and the 2011 Norwegian massacre carried out by Anders Breivik – as examples of this “reactive co-radicalization.” This term, I suggest, is an apt denominator for the exclusionary reaction to the rising presence of Islam within otherwise secular, albeit nominally Christian, Western European and North American societies, among others.

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