VALI R. NASR: Good afternoon. I'd like to welcome everyone to our session at the Council on Foreign Relations today with Olivier Roy. I'm going to, first, after introducing Olivier, have a conversation with him, ask him some questions, and then open the discussion for questions and thoughts from the audience.
Before we start, I want to remind everyone if you can please turn off your cell phones, or at least put them on vibrate, and also that the meeting's going to be on the record.
Now, it's a great pleasure to welcome Olivier Roy to the Council for this session. For those of you who are familiar with Islamic studies, the study of the Middle East and Olivier, he requires no introduction. Olivier has been one of the best-known experts on Islam in Europe, and also now his works have been translated in English, are widely read. He has presented many new conceptual ideas, ways of thinking about issues of Islamic fundamentalism, political Islam, and now in particular the very sensitive issue of the future of Islam in Europe and what it means for extremism and political change within Europe itself.
Olivier came to many people's attention first for his book, "Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan," which became very rapidly a classic about the fight of the Mujaheddin and the role that Islam played in it against the Soviet Union. More recently, he wrote a book called "Globalized Islam," which was actually nominated among the best books of the year by the Council on Foreign Relations. It recasts the way we think about the problem of extremism, of the new generation of Islamic ideology which he refers to as "neofundamentalism." And I've used that book in classrooms with students, and I think it's a very, very important book.
And recently Olivier has been engaged in debates in Europe about the question of Islam, and his recent book, published by Columbia University Press, "Islam and Secularization," which is actually available here, deals with this issue from a very, very different perspective. And I think for those who are interested in this issue who read material that is now available in the market, largely often from an alarmist viewpoint, I think Olivier's book is very instructive. I recommend it, for those who are interested, very strongly. And if you would like to, there are copies available here today.
Olivier is with the CNRS, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France. He teaches, writes and does research in France. He's also a frequent visitor to the United States. I think he's going to be spending next year at Berkeley, at the University of California, Berkeley. At any rate, we're very fortunate to have him here.
And I wanted Olivier to start the discussion by going back to a theme that you've raised as a setting, about -- which is an issue -- we deal greatly in this country with extremism, the reason for its appeal to, particularly, the youth in the Muslim world and in Europe. And you've compared the rise of sort of new extremism as a cultureless phenomenon, as something new, and you even compare it to evangelical trends in the West.
I want to see if you can sort of elaborate a bit on that, about how we ought to think of this extremism.
OLIVIER ROY: Thank you very much, Vali.
Yes, if one looks at the biographies, for instance, of the radicals in Europe -- I really concentrate on Europe, but we can discuss more largely after, if you want. There are some common patterns. The young, the youngsters who joined al Qaeda or any of the terrorist organizations are by different ways a prudent people. By that I mean, first, they are living in a country which is not the country of their parents. Secondly, most of them became born-again Muslims or converts in Europe and not, you know, in the Middle East or not through the influence of Middle Eastern -- (inaudible) -- of people, for instance.
Thirdly -- and this is something which is very interesting, too -- when they decide to go for jihad, for action, for fighting, none of them, except for a few Pakistanis that did remain, none of them did return to the country of origin of his parents. So clearly we see that the way they are becoming radicals is a way to break with the family, with the past, their own past, their own history.
None of them, for instance, have special roots with the country of origin. They all speak Western languages. Many of them have Western citizenship. Let's take a guy like Moussaui who is now in jail in the States. He was born in France. He was not educated as a -- (inaudible) -- Muslim; he was taught in French schools. And he became radical when he was in his early 20s in France. And he decided to go to London because he thought that the real people, the real tough guys are in London. He didn't go to Yemen or to Pakistan and so. And after that he decided to go for jihad in Afghanistan.
So these guys, you know, they are confronted with a world which is not divided into -- (inaudible) -- into Middle East and the West. They are living in a global world, in a global society. The real global people, and it's why they are (essentially ?) -- they are, they can deliver the goods -- (inaudible) -- goods, by definition.
The last point is about converts. Al Qaeda is the only Muslim -- quote-unquote Muslim -- organization which not only are a high level of converts in it, a high percentage of converts, but the only Muslim organization which gives responsibility to converts. If you go to the Muslim in Cairo or elsewhere. If you go to the Islam Republic of Iran, you will never find a convert at a position of responsibility. But if you look at al Qaeda, at least 30 percent and in Europe to 20 percent of the militants of al Qaeda are converts.
And they have responsibility. The bombing of the synagogue in Tunisia, was handled by a German convert. Part of the bombings or of the -- endeavor you know, to do something in London, were engineered by Barat (ph), and Barat (ph) is a very interesting guy. He was born from a Hindu family of -- (inaudible) -- who migrated to Great Britain, and then in Great Britain he became a Muslim and joined al Qaeda. So he -- for me, these guys typically embodies what al Qaeda is, a global organization, and not the expression of a traditional Muslim culture, and not even a Middle Eastern organization.
NASR: I think it's an interesting point you raise that if it's this cultural dislocation, this being rootless is that -- pushes these young people into this global extremist vision, then is this a transitory phenomenon, do you think? In other words, is this just -- is the extremism just a phenomenon limited to this period in history, to this second generation, and it's a matter of time that it would go away?
ROY: We'll see. (Laughter.) But for me it's a generational phenomenon. It's a youth phenomenon. It's not the expression of a traditional society. And it's why -- for example, I compare this with the wave of -- (inaudible) -- in the West during the '60s and '70s. There are many comparisons.
The same connections between middle class intellectuals and school dropouts and uprooted people. The same commitment to global revolution and/or global jihad. The same nomadism from one -- (inaudible) -- you know, from one -- (inaudible) -- from one liberation movement to the other liberation movement, from one jihad to the other jihad. The same lack of rooting among a real society. No political party, no union, no real organization, you know? A bunch of young guys who decide to fight the world order by the means of terrorism.
And in the '70s, remember Italy, France, Germany, it was seen as a strategy fight. And suddenly -- by suddenly I mean in 50 years -- suddenly nothing, and almost no -- (inaudible) -- exactly the people who claim, you know, this -- (inaudible). They call us, you know, the terrorist of the '70s, he converted to Islam in jail. And why? Because he said, "Now al Qaeda is doing what we were trying to do in the '70s." So clearly for me it's a global movement, a youth movement, and not a social and culturally rooted movement, so it's one I am -- (inaudible). But as I said, let's -- (off mike).
NASR: But actually, what you say reminds me of a comment a Chilean colleague made that in Chile now to be a revolutionary you are Muslim. The people convert, young people convert or have a positive image because -- not because of what the faith says or what the ideology says, but this is -- the rebelliousness is there.
In your book you actually have a very interesting analysis of the imagery of the beheadings, the manner in which it's set up with a trial, a summary trial, with a flag hanging behind the masked men and the prisoner, and then the summary execution of justice. And you say that that is much more -- the imagery of it is much more reminiscent of the trial and execution of Aldo Moro, the former Italian prime minister, by the Red Brigade than is anything in Islamic history.
And now you're also drawing parallels between how Che Guevara's a better way of understanding al Qaeda than anything within the Islamic tradition, but which raises the question that where does the contact come? I mean, where is it that these young extremists, who -- children of these migrants, some of whom, you know, are not necessarily university students and the like, are absorbing this 1970s revolutionary language of the left?
ROY: In a sense, you know, to absorb the revolutionary language of the left is in a sense it means to be integrated. In one of the political traditions of the West, the tradition of confrontation, violent confrontation and anarchy. The revolutionary tradition of the West, especially of continental Europe, of course.
On the other hand, when one looks to these guys, why do they go not only for violence, but also for suicide? What is at stake for them? They are not revolutionary, in the sense that they don't expect anything for the day after. This isn't their thing. If you listen to al Qaeda through bin Laden, he doesn't say anything about what would be a good society, a just society, a perfect society, and even an Islamic society. He doesn't care about the day after. None of them does care about the day after.
So in a sense, suicide is part of the project, you know? It's not just a mean. It's also a life and death, of course, project. I think these guys are more moved by a certain concern for self-made than by a really -- real religious faith. Because if we speak in terms of faith, suicide is not allowed no more than in Islam than in most of the religions, you know, because it's to decide, instead of God, to decide about life.
But in a sense, these guys, they think that they are God. They have this fantastic feeling of being -- of having the power, the power to kill people, the power to change a society, and this -- they have a fascination for imagery. Al Qaeda would never existed without the TV. I'm not blaming the journalists, by the way. (Laughter.) They do their job, you know.
But as well as TV is part of our world, I'd say that's part of our world, they all -- most of them, not all -- do make video before going for a suicide attack, and they stage their own self. So from being nobody, they are not only somebody, but arm of God. And I think that for a disenfranchised young guy who has a lot of expectations, who went to school, who was an average student or even a good student, but has a feeling, you know, that his life is not really connected to the existing society, then to go for suicide is a way to take his hand on society, but also a way to exist as a hero. So I think there is a psychological dimension which is more important than any cultural tradition which, by the way, doesn't exist. There is no traditional culture of suicide bombing in Islam. And I would say in any religion, by the way.
So here again these guys are modern. Too modern --
NASR: Well, when we think about the 1970s, for instance, when you did -- you had similar kind of Communist organizations in Europe. Terrorists -- or the Red Brigades, the Bader Meinhof gang, et cetera. At the same time there was much more mainstream Communist parties in France, Italy, trade unions, and there was a dynamic there as well. When we talk about extremists in -- or this sort of alienated youth in Euro, we think of them in isolation.
I want to see what you think is the nature of relationship with mainstream Muslims, or if there is such a thing in Europe. And how is that likely to play itself out? I mean, we hear numbers about Muslims in Europe in an undifferentiated way. Our focus is on, obviously, the extremists and the terrorists, but what is happening among the rest, if that's -- if there is something there?
ROY: There is a trend to consider al Qaeda as some sort of a revolutionary vanguard of the Muslim community. And of course, the way al Qaeda itself presents itself -- (inaudible). But if you look at the mainstream, for them al Qaeda is largely a phenomenon. And the problem is we appraise the mainstream Muslims through the lens of terrorism. We ask them, for instance, to condemn terrorism which, by the way, most of them do. But all are -- not all but a large part of policy towards the mainstream Muslim is driven by the fear of terrorism. And do that it's precisely to play for al Qaeda, to make -- to put al Qaeda at the center, you know, of the issue of Islam in Europe.
Why, if you look at the mainstream Muslims in Europe, their concern is not about terrorism; it's not about Middle East. It's a legend; it's a myth to say that the Muslim population in Europe is polarized on the caliphate in the Middle East. Great Britain might be an exception, because there is a higher level of politicization among British Muslims, for different reasons. But in continental Europe, no. It's very simple, let's take the riots in France years ago. There was not one Palestinian flag. While it's usual for the rest, for the -- (inaudible) -- in France to wave Palestinian flags -- (inaudible) -- you know. It's some -- (inaudible) -- if I can say that.
You didn't find any political fight. You didn't find any -- (inaudible) -- for vindication -- (inaudible) -- nothing about the mosque, no. All was about discrimination and, specifically, discrimination to go to the night clubs, which -- that's very connected with Islam. (Laughter.) Or discriminations, you know -- it's a big issue, night clubs. Big political issue. (Laughter.) Discrimination of the labor market also.
(Inaudible) -- in Paris, you know we love to demonstrate in the streets. A demonstration in favor of Palestine, you have 15,000 people, half of them graying (partistes ?), you know. But there are -- millions of Muslims are in Paris. So if this -- (inaudible) -- Palestinian conflict were at the core of the concerns of the Muslim population in France, we would have 1 million Muslims demonstrating in Paris. Nothing. Nothing at all.
And for example, I was two weeks ago at the conference of the OSCE in Cordoba, a very symbolic place, Cordoba in Andalusia. And diplomats were invited, Muslim organizations of Europe were invited and so on. All the diplomats spoke about defusing the conflict in the Middle East in order to placate the Muslim public opinion in Europe. But the European Muslims who participated at the conference, they didn't say a word about Middle East. All of their interventions, which were done in French for the French, in German for the Germans, in Spanish for the Spaniards -- all their interventions were about how to have mosques in Europe, how to be recognized as a church -- I would use the term "as a church" -- on the same level of Catholics or Presbyterians churches, how to have -- (word inaudible) -- with the schools, what about the veil, how should we sign agreements from (cemeteries ?). And see, everything was about how to be a good Muslim and a good citizen in Europe. None of them, including the people who originated from the Middle East, none of them spoke about Palestine, Iraq, or Afghanistan.
So I think the trend among most of the Muslims in Europe is to find the accommodation between being open and being Muslim. But most of the policies which are devised by the government -- (audio difficulty) -- precisely have the -- (inaudible) -- effect to reconnect -- reconnect the Muslims in Europe with the Middle Eastern conflict. To do -- to finish here, just an example.
At this conference, the conference both on Islamophobia in Europe, so a representative of the organization of the Islamic concerns was invited which is no more, you know. The organization of the Islamic conflict -- (inaudible) -- is supposed to -- (inaudible) -- with Muslims in the world. But the general secretary of the Arab League was invited, and it doesn't make sense, you know? And by definition, Mr. -- (inaudible) -- spoke about Israel, with Palestine, about Iraq, and so and so, but didn't address the concerns of the Muslim population in Europe. And they were furious. They said that "This guy is a foreigner, he is a diplomat, he has nothing to do with us." So most of our policies tend precisely to stir up the problems we want to defuse.
NASR: (Inaudible) -- and I think often Arab countries think of Muslims in Europe the way British used to think of settlers in the United States, sort of arms of the empire out there, regardless of what their issues are.
ROY: I will not -- (inaudible).
NASR: And actually I must say, it's not just in Europe. Recently a colleague of mine at a very high-level conference in Jordan took a poll of important diplomats and government leaders within the room about what's the most important issue for the future of the region. And without surprise, it was solving the Palestinian issue. And he went outside and on the same street asked the people in Amman what they thought was the most important issue, and it was the economy, education, it was everything other than the one that their leaders were peddling as the most important issues.
So I think it's important, what you say. It's important because not just Muslims in Europe, but I think often we are being managed in terms of what ought to be thought about that.
Now, you know, your book, you raise important issues from the other side of the picture, namely that if we were to look at England, France, Netherlands, they each have followed a different model in dealing with Muslims, sort of multiculturalism versus what you call laicite. And now -- also I'll say with the election of particularly Sarkozy in France, it probably maybe will open a door for this debate about whose model is better.
I wondered if you can comment about the debate on the other side among Europeans as to how they are going to manage mainstream Islam as well as that issue of culturelessness that you thought is animating the youth.
ROY: There have been two models in Europe to deal with the issue -- multiculturalism and assimilationism. So the French model is clearly assimilationist. We say "integration," we don't say assimilation, but in fact we mean assimilation.
For 20 years there was no debate because the positions were so different, you know, between -- (inaudible) -- British and the French on this issue, so there was not a -- no communication -- (inaudible). Now we have a lot of debate. Why? Because both models have failed, multiculturalism and assimilization. And they have failed for the same reasons. Both models press upon that culture and religions are interrelated. So if you are Muslim, it means you are -- (inaudible) -- and so that you speak Turkish or Arabic, you eat Turkish, you eat Arabic and things like that, you know. And so multiculturalism is treating the faith community as an ethnic minority. So it means that these people, they do remain foreigners, in a sense.
The assimilationists, the French assimilationist model, which is really based on laicite, supposes that once you become a true French, religion doesn't matter. That you should not be openly religious, no. So the big scandal in France were when -- (inaudible) -- perfectly integrated. Born in France, and so some of them converts, you know, good scholars without any pressure (from the family ?) came to school with a veil. And this was the symbol of the -- (inaudible) -- assimilationism. If you are totally integrated, then speak in French. They don't speak Arabic, they don't -- if you are totally French, how could you, as a young woman, wear a veil and hence big scandal you know -- (inaudible).
And the thing with the Dutch after the assassination of -- (inaudible) -- it was a trauma for the Dutch people, who have been so nice with the foreigner. How could they kill one of us, you know? But for me, in both cases what we see is precisely the disconnection, the disconnect between religion and culture. Bouyeri, the guy who killed Theo van Gogh, -- is a -- (inaudible) -- culturalist. He doesn't speak good Arabic, he doesn't care about that. He did not mention the presence of Dutch troops in The Hague -- (inaudible) -- some degree care about that, and his group, the (Hofstad ?) group, is made of converts, second generation but -- (inaudible) -- converts, a third of converts. So it's absolutely not the expression of an ethnic group living in Holland.
And the issue now is how to deal not with an ethnic minority, but with a new religion, with a faith community. And the difference is that to join a faith community means to join it voluntarily. You are not born to be a Muslim or a Christian. You join the faith community because you have a faith; you believe in it. So we think we should now take this approach, not dealing with Muslims as foreigners or people with a certain ethnicity, because it's no more the case. And it's no more relevant; it's less and less relevant. And to deal with (honestly ?) the people who think that they were Muslims have a religion which now is a Western religion, and to take them on the same level as all the other religions is the way to deal.
And I say that because many so-called Muslims didn't consider themselves as Muslims, and for different reasons. There are people who said, "I don't have the faith. Why should I enter into the category of Muslims? Why should I be automatically given a hallal plateau when I go to the school, you know, to the eating room at school? I have a Muslim name, but I don't care." And we have even some people like -- (inaudible) -- and -- (inaudible) -- who say, "I am an atheist Muslim. I don't believe in God, so I don't care about hallal. I drink wine," so -- welcome to the club. And so these people, there is the sense of -- you know, the idea of being categorized -- as Muslim because they don't have the faith. (Inaudible) -- but also we have conversions on both sides.
And this is something which is underestimated, that a lot of writings about Christians converting to Islam, and specifically the young guys, you know, joining al Qaeda. But nothing is said about Muslims converting to Christianity. Near my hometown we have a huge evangelic church which is exclusively made of lots of Christian Arabs who converted to Protestantism. They claim 10,000 people in France. Maybe it's a bit slightly exaggerated, but it's a growing movement.
And by the way, they are Zionists, because they are -- (inaudible). (Laughter.) But they claim to be Arab, they claim to be Arabs. So things are a bit more complicated sometimes, you know -- (laughter) -- specifically with religions, by the way.
NASR: Well, 10,000 is definitely much higher than a century of Christian missionary activity accomplished in the Middle East in the 19th century. So it is a notable figure, without a doubt.
I would like to at this time invite members to join the conversation. Please raise your hand if you have a question and wait for the microphone and speak into it so everybody could hear.
QUESTIONER: I'm Aristide Zolberg. I teach at the Graduate Faculty at the New School, and I work on international migrations, including what you're talking about. And I'm wondering whether you would agree that prior to 9/11 the American approach to the incorporation of a new religion actually worked quite well, and it's only since 9/11 that these kind of counterproductive policies have been initiated, unfortunately, as far as I'm concerned, because I know at the time of 9/11, I even organized a meeting here in New York about Muslim representatives, and everybody was very in agreement that this was a very unfortunate kind of thing. I mean, it was very easy to start a new mosque anywhere in the city of New York. And I think it still is much easier than in Britain, or France, or the Netherlands, or Belgium, or Germany.
ROY: Yeah, it's because Mexicans are not Muslims. (Laughter.) A part of the suspicions in Europe is because there is a link, which is a true link -- it's true, you know -- between a labor organization and Islam. So it allows to connect many different forms of rejection. The Christian right, which is opposed to Islam, a part of secular rights which is -- (inaudible) -- let's say -- people of the left who are thinking that immigration is changing too much the patterns of our society like that. And as long as Islam will be associated with -- (audio difficulty) -- there will be more suspicion in Europe against Islamic religion than in the States.
But this is changing in Europe, because what we see now is two different patterns. One is the increase of the Muslim middle class. If you go to a hospital now in Europe and you look at the names of the surgeons, you have now Muslim names, which of course didn't exist 20 years ago. If you go to look at the -- (inaudible) -- you will find Muslim -- (inaudible) -- and we have now Rachida Dati, the minister of justice. And it's a news story. She's born in France and she doesn't claim to be a Muslim. She never said anything about religion. And she's representative -- she's not an exception, she's representative of a new trend.
The second thing is that migration now are less and less linked with the Muslim world. Migrations are now diverse. We have a lot of Chinese for instance now in Europe, people from different -- Africa who are not Muslim and things like that. So the association between immigration and Islam is less strong than it used to be 20 years before.
QUESTIONER: I'm Allison Silver. I'm from Charlie Rose. And you talked about how this, what's going on now, is like the Red Brigades or the Baader-Meinhof in the '60s. But is it also like the young people? Is it also like a cult, like the Jim Jones cult about rejecting their family and forming their own family? And how do you de-program that sort of thing?
ROY: Yeah, you are right. I think we are confronted with some sort of violent phenomenon among the youth which sometimes do find political framework it's al Qaeda or to the left -- and sometimes don't find the political framework, and so is treated as an individual phenomenon. But take for instance -- suppose that schoolboys will go to school and kill or try to kill their fellow countrymen, Muslim countrymen. It's quite close of the individual motivation to go to al Qaeda to make news, to kill, to commit suicide or to be killed in action. So we have here a psychological profile which sometimes could fit with organizations like al Qaeda, especially for the converts for instance. Many of the converts would have done something.
QUESTIONER: John Entelis of Fordham University. I always wanted the opportunity to be able to ask you in person, in light of your writings of the past -- back in 1994 you wrote a book on the failure of political Islam, and you and your colleague Gilles Kepel predicted that political Islam was a waning phenomenon. Yet, the very aspects that you've been discussing today, the sociological and political and social and economic aspects you have been talking about today, have been developing over a long period of time. Obviously September 11th transformed the framework of your discussion. But what is it in your analysis that a decade ago led you to conclude that political Islam is a failure, and now you're using the same evidence to predict that it is a success?
ROY: Well, form al Qaeda was not political Islam. Political Islam is a failure, and it's why because -- it's why political Islam failed that we have al Qaeda. What is political Islam? It's a political project to create an Islamic state, an Islamic society, an Islamic economy, an Islamic justice, or to manage a country in the name of Islam -- not only in the name of Islam but by using Islamic concepts and, not precisely, by using an Islamic ideology. So political Islam is a Muslim Brothers, the Jamiat -- (inaudible) -- in Pakistan, the Islamic Revolution of Iran, and so and so -- and it's a total failure. It doesn't work. In Iran you do not fight an Islamic justice, an Islamic economy and Islamic -- (inaudible) -- the Iranian society is the most secularized society of the Middle East. People don't care about -- they may have a definite faith -- I am not speaking of that. But religion is no more -- that the people are fed up with political Islam in Iran. Of course Ahmadinejad is in charge and it's still a problem on that. But the society is more Westernized and more secularized than ever now in Iran. So I stick with what I said.
So it's why the people who are going -- who are looking for violence to fight the West, they are no more doing that in the -- (inaudible) -- state because it doesn't work. And they are going to go jihad. They do not have a territory. They are outside the space of a nation-state. It's both their strength -- they are everywhere and nowhere. It's also their weakness: they do not have a social basis. Al Qaeda has no social basis. But al Qaeda is not a political organization -- (inaudible). As I said, al Qaeda and bin Laden never speak about an Islamic state, they never say what he will do the day after, because for him there's no day after he doesn't care. You know, he doesn't care at all. It's not a political organization.
NASR: If I may just push you to maybe elaborate a little bit more about the debate about Caliphate, which obviously has some resonance among policy makers in the U.S. as well, in the context of this issue of Islam. If they're not following an Islamic state, where does this debate fit in?
ROY: Caliphate is not so -- we may have mentioned caliphate from time to time, but what he's doing has nothing to do with building a caliphate. The caliphate has a territorial basis by definition. And al Qaeda, as I said, is a de-territorialized organization, which is not so much interested by the Middle East. Al Qaeda was almost never involved in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. More exactly, more precisely, the forerunner of al Qaeda, Abdullah Azzam, they left the Middle East because they thought the situation was hopeless. And why? Not because of the American presence in the Middle East, but because for them the Middle East struggles were stuck in nationalism. The main accusation of this people against Yasser Arafat were that Arafat in fact was a nationalist -- which is true, by the way. And Abdullah Azzam said if liberating Palestine means to have another -- (inaudible) -- like Nasser in Palestine, I don't like this struggle. It's not my struggle. I am a Muslim. I fight for the umma. The Palestinian struggle is important for umma, of course. But if it's to have some sort of basis Palestine, I am not interested. He decided to go to Afghanistan, which is not an Arab country, and it's not part of the Middle East, except for the State Department -- (laughter) -- which is not necessarily a mistake under the present circumstances. He decided to go to Afghanistan precisely because they considered the jihad of the Afghan mujaheddin as a global jihad against a superpower and not to liberate just a given territory.
If you look at the most popular jihad among the al Qaeda's people, it has always been outside the Arab world. It was in Afghanistan, in Kashmir, in Chechnya, in Bosnia -- it went to Malaysia, to Indonesia to New York and so- but almost none of them went to Israel Palestine. And in Iraq -- they go to Iraq now -- they go to Iraq because now they go everywhere the Americans are. They have no project for Iraq. What they do is to a certain extent to (preside ?) a different conflict -- to try to manipulate different conflicts and to recast local conflicts in a global narrative as a fight for -- against America globally speaking. But they do not have any concrete agenda on Iraq. And it's why, by the way, they are not so successful in Bosnia, in Iraq, and so -- because they don't care about the local agenda. The problem is that there are too many agendas in Iraq. But none of them does fit with al Qaeda's global agenda.
QUESTIONER: Bill Drozdiak, American Council on Germany. Do you think the inclusion of Turkey into the European Union would help deal with these challenges of integrating Muslims into Europe? Or is the matter of Turkish membership, as you suggest with the Palestinian issue, totally extraneous to their cause?
ROY: The issue of Turkey into Europe is not so much popular among European Muslims, except among the Turks of course, because it will make things far more easy, you know -- but not so much for the others.
The idea that Turkey has a model of good Islam doesn't make sense. First, it's a government Islam. And Muslims in Europe are not looking for a government Islam. They are fed up with governments. They have a good opportunity to have a free Islam, an independent Islam, to have imams who are not paid by the government, one who are given orders by the government or by state authorities. And they are happy about that. So Turkey is an issue for the Muslims in Europe because it has been recast into the terms of relations between Europe and Islam. And because that is an issue, and many people think that we have rejected the Turks because they are Muslims -- but we will reject -- I hope so -- the Russians too -- I hope so -- for different reasons, you know -- yeah, for good reasons -- they are Russians. (Laughter.) And the Turks are, for me, too nationalist to be Europeans, but not too Muslim -- it has nothing to do with religion. They are too nationalist. We have already a lot of nationalists. So the Turks are trying -- the government of Turkey is trying to say we have -- we can deliver good Muslims. But I think it is a mistake. It's once again to recognize the issue of Islam in Europe with the Middle East.
NASR: The gentleman in the back.
QUESTIONER: Hi. Marty Gross from Sandalwood Securities. I'm still a little bit confused about your definition of radical Islam. It's kind of like the war on terror: you're defining this group of people by what they do. I think -- I'd like to know your view. I think that what you have to do here is decide to what extent the imposition of Shari'a law in place of, quote "Western law in Europe" is the key to defining radical Islam. It's clearly true that a lot of the riots in France are for social reasons, having nothing to do with anything but jobs. But there's no aspect of fundamentalist radical Islam that you've described that didn't have a violent component to it. For example, are the Danish cartoons part of radical Islam's move into Europe to get us to think differently about how we view our own laws? So if you could address the non-violent aspects of radical Islam, I'd appreciate that.
ROY: I will call radical Islam jihadi Islam. The people who consider to make jihad is is mandatory for everybody, for me these are radicals. Then we call the -- I will not use the term -- (inaudible) -- Salafi or Wahhabi -- people who think that Shari'a -- a good Muslim is somebody who lives exclusively in the framework of the Shari'a, Islamic law. So I think this difference is important.
And now in Europe the issue -- you're right, the issue is not about the jihadists, the jihadists are a minority. The issue is about the Salafis, the Wahhabis and they are very affluent -- (inaudible) -- because they use the narrative, the discourse of multiculturalism. The term multiculturalism on the side -- they say, okay, we are -- you're right, we are a different population. We are very different. And because we are different we should have our own domestic laws. And there's a lot of confliction among certain circles to divide Europe into compatible Shari'a. We don't contest your state. We don't contest that it's a Christian country. We just want Shari'a for us. That means in marriage law, in -- (inaudible) -- and things like that. In Canada you have the Ontario stories in the same way too.
And usually there is rejection. Sometimes after a discussion, after debate -- in France there is no debate -- it's totally out of -- it will never be taken into consideration. But there have been some debates in Canada, in -- (inaudible) -- and at the end the idea of separate law has been discarded everywhere -- for two reasons. One, it doesn't fit with our legal and constitutional principles, which are based on individual freedom. And the issue is how -- what I said -- how to make a difference between an ethnic minority group and a faith community. If you say that Shari'a should be applied to the Muslims, who is a Muslim? And then you describe individual freedom, which is -- (inaudible).
So the other issue is, okay, let's take the faith community. We are grown-ups, a free people, and we decide to live according to the Shari'a between us. Okay, why not? But there should be no state regulation of that. If people decide for instance to practice polygamy between themselves, it's not against the law as long as there is no -- only one marriage is registered. But you can have like the French cuisinier Mr. Bocuse -- he has three wives, you know, which they are in the same building. And people say, "Oh, what a man." (Laughter.) But if -- (inaudible) -- Karim has the same thing, people will say oh, he's a fundamentalist. No. But it's not against the law if you don't register different marriages.
So we have some faith communities -- and, by the way, not just among the Muslims, but also among the Jews, among -- (inaudible) -- people, among some different cults who decide freely to live according to their own rules between themselves. But for me the state doesn't recognize that and should not recognize that.
As far as the cartoon affair is concerned, it's not a European affair. You know, if the demonstration in Europe have been -- and certainly, we think, as usual -- I'm French. (Laughter.) You have no demonstrations in Europe. The demonstrations were in Damascus, in Cairo, in the Gaza Strip, in Pakistan as usual -- you know? And all these demonstrations were assimilated by a people who had an interest in designing, almost in constricting the Muslim population in Europe as a diaspora. But in France we had 700 demonstrators to protest the Danish cartoons -- which for the French no doubt is very, very low -- and they didn't burn one car, which is not very French, you know. (Laughter.)
QUESTIONER: I think everybody can hear me. Judy Miller. I'm a journalist -- can you hear me?
Very interesting, as usual, Olivier. A question for you. In New York, the New York police department recently did a study of radicalization, which traced four different phases, but found that radicalization was most likely to occur, or just as likely to occur, even among the middle class that you talked about -- let us remember the doctors' attack or attempt in England. What does one do about the radicalization phenomenon, given the fact that this is a youth phenomenon and this youthful population is likely to be disproportionately large for some time in Europe? And, secondly, why do you think mainstream Muslim clerics and guides have been so hesitant and reluctant to condemn and separate their own populations from the jihadis?
ROY: It's true that radicalization has nothing to do with social uprootedness you know. But it's the same with all the extreme revolutionary movements. Lenin was not an outcast. So it has to do I think with expectations. And it's interesting to see that in fact -- you asked about the doctor -- often people with a scientific background are more prone to some sort of radicalization, strangely enough, to religious radicalization, but it's true it has nothing to do with social status. And usually we have intellectuals coming from the middle class followed by people of lower social status. You know, that's very typical. What was your second question?
QUESTIONER: Why isn't the mainstream clerics --
ROY: Mainstream clerics. The problem with the mainstream clerics is there is no mainstream clerics. This -- the social changes among the Muslims didn't bring until now a new generation of imams. And that's a big problem. It's a big problem. As you know, Islam is more than Protestantism you don't have an institution. And when you have a state institution, which is some sort of -- (inaudible) -- there is a depth of change -- not only adapted imams. For years in Iraq the imams used to come from Pakistan, from the Gulf, didn't speak European languages, and had a lot of problem to grasp with the local entities. So especially when these people used to come from the Middle East, they used to bring the Middle East issues into the mosques. And for these guys to fight the Americans in Iraq is not bad. So they had a problem to make a distinction between terrorism and nationalist struggles.
But what we see is a growing discrepancy between the present, the actual congregation, and their imams. The problem is the children of this new middle class -- (inaudible) -- because you cannot make a lot of money. You have to be a real -- really committed to your faith to be an imam. The community -- not in the Islamic states but in Europe -- the Muslim communities are poor. They don't have a way to pay an imam, so there are ways to good pay now, but somebody who has a diploma after five to seven years, he doesn't want to go to work for a salary of $1,000 a month. And so there is a big problem of recruitment. In every European country now there is an endeavor to create schools. But the point is who should teach and what to teach. And here we have another problem, the theological problem -- oh, we should teach good Islam. But what is good Islam now? And if you ask most of the European politicians, good Islam it's liberal, definitely Islam. Okay, liberal definitely. Well, look at the Catholic Church. Look at the Jews -- (inaudible) -- We have to accept that we can have decent, conservative religious people. It's a discovery, especially in France. But there might be some decent conservative religious people. And these are the guys who will build the congregations, you know, by the -- (inaudible) -- will be the imams now.
QUESTIONER: I'm struck by your continuing emphasis in this very important talk on the disconnect between policy makers and the reality of the community. And I'm thinking in the international discussions, in the international discourse, that very serious disconnect. And I'm wondering will it make a difference if we change the terms of that discourse, if we bring in more of a development perspective, if there's more of a recognition of what the real issues are rather than the -- they are real issues but that one could bring in these other sets of issues and perhaps make changes there that might then lead to more rootedness of youth in these societies -- in Europe, United States, and Muslim societies?
ROY: At least -- at last, I think that we should de-ideologize the debate. To speak about Islamic culture, what does the Koran say it's -- (inaudible) -- no. We should not discuss about Islam; we should discuss about Muslims, about people, about real people, about citizens, you know. Those are the concerns -- what is acceptable, not acceptable -- negotiable, not negotiable. To take that, in a broader sense, a social and political issue and not as a psychological, metaphysical, or strategic issue. That's for me. So we have to give up all these speeches about dialogue of civilization. Dialogue of civilization is based on the -- (inaudible) -- and clash of civilizations. We are different. We are very different. Now, we may be different, of course, but in the framework of a political society we are citizens, and there should be no debate about civilization. We share the same civilization.
So that's why, yes, I think we should give up this way to speak with big words about the issue of Islam and to address people more than to address ideas.
NASR: Unfortunately, we are at the end of our time, and I want to take this occasion to thank Olivier Roy for a very rich and enlightening discussion. Thank you, Olivier. (Applause.)
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