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A fragmented discourse of religious leadership in France: Muslim youth between citizenship and radicalization
journal contributionposted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by Virginie Andre, Fethi MansouriFethi Mansouri, Michele Lobo
At a time when public debates about radicalization of Muslim youth in the West are taking center stage and when questions about “home-grown” security threats are increasing in the wake of a number of terrorist attacks in many émigré societies, this article provides fresh empirical insights from the perspective of religious leadership. It outlines a picture of a highly diverse Muslim religious landscape where competing religious discourses are struggling to attract and support Muslim youth facing social dislocation and identity crises within increasingly contested social milieus. The article argues that a typology of religious leadership is clearly emerging where a spectrum of faith-based orientations and religious practice emphasize, to different degrees, notions of attachment to universal ethics and individual agency. The fact that conservative, sometimes radical, interpretations of such contestations represent a minority of voices is heartening even though the actual damage by such minority is often disproportionate to its actual size within the so-called silent majority. The empirical insights provided by the religious leaders interviewed for this study offer hope that the future of Western Muslims is more positive than we are led to think, if the possibility of combining devout faith with local political engagement becomes a real and sustainable conduit towards social inclusion and intercultural understanding and if necessary support and understanding are extended by the host communities.