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Kathrin Herz and Chantal Munsch

Abstract

The paper is based on an ethnographic study of Turkish Muslim Community Centres in Germany. It analyses the multiplicity of these centres at various levels on the basis of participant observations, interviews, plans and photographs. The article describes the multiplicity of religious, cultural, social and commercial functions in the multifunctional clusters that are constantly changing. It clearly shows how individual spaces house a variety of overlapping social practices and how users associate diverse meanings with the centres. The paper develops a new perspective on mosques by focusing on the space and the complexity of everyday routines.

‘Dual Use Research of Concern’ and ‘Select Agents’

How Researchers Can Use Free Speech to Avoid ‘Weaponising’ Academia

Alison Scott-Baumann

Abstract

Creating a suspect community is a time-consuming task and requires persistence. Once achieved, it is difficult to undo. In security terms, inspiring fear of dual use is one of many successful methods used to create suspicion. The concept of dual use research of concern (DURC) is the idea that scientific knowledge can be created by the worthy, stolen by the malevolent and used to make war on the innocent. On campus, ideas about Islam are currently often viewed as if Islam epitomises DURC. By this means, a Derridean binary opposition springs up between Islam and the rest, whereby that-which-is-Islam is demeaned and the ‘rest’ is privileged. This emanates from political intervention on campus and creates a risk-averse ‘othering’ approach to students’ interaction with Islam and Muslims and the Western world. In order to demonstrate how this political intervention influences the university curriculum and university life on campus, the term dual use will function here as a heuristic: the ‘metaphor’ of DURC shows how certain government ideologies are being used on campus to ‘weaponise’ ideas about Islam as if they are malevolent. Using a complementary and mutually enhancing combination of philosophy, empirical research and policy analysis, three positive solutions are proposed that show how important it is that academics be aware of national policy: first, in order to make people cognisant of the urgent need to offer alternatives to the British counter terrorism programme ‘Prevent’ and the work of the Charity Commission with student societies; second, to support the work of academic subject associations; and third, to create a useful debate about free speech.

Muslims Denouncing Violent Extremism

Competing Essentialisms of Islam in Dutch Public Debate

Margaretha A. van Es

Abstract

This article explores statements made by Dutch Muslims against violent extremism, and explains these statements in the context of the growing pressure exerted on Muslim minorities in Europe to present themselves as peaceful and loyal citizens. It problematises the often-repeated call on Muslims to denounce terrorism, and reveals that Dutch Muslims have condemned violent extremism more often than is commonly acknowledged. However, essentialist statements about Islam as a violent religion often provoke competing essentialisms of Islam as a ‘religion of peace’. In analysing such statements as ‘performative performances’, the author demonstrates how public debate about violent extremism feeds into Muslim perceptions of what Islam ‘really’ is.

Klas Grinel

Abstract

This article focuses on a neglected historical example where contemporary museological framings of Islam in Europe were established—the World of Islam Festival in London, 1976. The material consulted consists of the publications and materials from the Festival Trust, media coverage and academic discussions of the Festival. These are analyzed from a frame theory perspective. The Festival is situated in a very specific historical period after the advent of Gulf oil money, but before the resurgence of Islam and the Iranian revolution. It was framed by the traditionalist perspective of Frithjof Schuon and Seyyed Hossein Nasr and in large part funded by the United Arab Emirates. It is argued that what might at first appear to be a festival celebrating the presence of Muslims in modern Britain acted to stabilize a dichotomy between Islam and modernity that is still dominant in museological framings of Islam in Europe.

Shiite “Communities of Practice” in Germany

Researching Multi-Local, Heterogeneous Actors in Transnational Space

Robert Langer and Benjamin Weineck

Abstract

Although few in number, the various Shiite Muslim communities in Germany are highly diversified in terms of their linguistic, national and ethnic backgrounds and ritual practice. In order to come to terms with these multi-local actors and their specific articulations of Shiism, the article aimes at an analytical framework that integrates an open understanding of belonging: employing Leave and Wenger’s concept of “communities of practice”, it argues that a focus on common practice in which heterogeneous actors engage, enables us to grasp, on the one hand, the varying specific characteristics of different groups and, on the other, their mutual belonging to the wider Shiite field.

Mythical State

The Aesthetics and Counter-Aesthetics of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

Nathaniel Greenberg

In the summer of 2014, on the heels of the declaration of a ‘caliphate’ by the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a wave of satirical production depicting the group flooded the Arab media landscape. Seemingly spontaneous in some instances and tightly measured in others, the Arab comedy offensive paralleled strategic efforts by the United States and its allies to ‘take back the Internet’ from ISIS propagandists. In this essay, I examine the role of aesthetics, broadly, and satire in particular, in the creation and execution of ‘counter-narratives’ in the war against ISIS. Drawing on the pioneering theories of Fred Forest and others, I argue that in the age of digital reproduction, truth-based messaging campaigns underestimate the power of myth in swaying hearts and minds. As a modus of expression conceived as an act of fabrication, satire is poised to counter myth with myth. But artists must balance a very fine line.

Adhering to the Ways of Our Western Brothers

Tracing Saudi Influences on the Development of Hui Salafism in China

Mohammed Turki A Al-Sudairi

This paper attempts to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Chinese Salafism. The paper traces, on the basis of a historical approach, the ways in which Wahhabi influences – doctrinal, ritual, and financial - have been transmitted into China since the late 19th century. It focuses specifically on the channels that had emerged following the 1970s and which have facilitated the spread of these influences including the Hajj, the impact of the Saudi-Chinese diaspora, the work of Saudi organizations and preachers operating within China, and study opportunities in the Kingdom. The paper argues that these influences have led to the strengthening of Salafisation tendencies within Muslim Chinese society on the one hand, and intensifying fragmentary pressures within Chinese Salafism on the other.

Mohiaddin Mesbahi and Mohammad Homayounvash

There are three broad factors that help explain China’s policy towards Iran’s nuclear program, especially since escalation to a full-fledged proliferation concern since the 2000s. First, there are a set of strategic dynamics and characteristics that define and shape the environment within which policy towards Iran has been formulated by Beijing since the inception of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. These dynamics could be analyzed as Iran’s strategic signification. Secondly, one could point at China’s global and regional preferences and policies and their implications for the prc’s Iran policy. Finally, the previous two sets of dynamics and preferences need to be contextualized within China’s nuclear proliferation culture and its impact in informing Beijing’s policies toward Iran’s nuclear crisis. Placing them in a historical geostrategic background context, the present paper will unpack these factors.

Seriye Sezen

Although China oriented academic interest in Turkey began in 1930s with the aim of learning Turks’ past from Chinese sources, this interest was limited to a smaller community of scholars consisting of sinologists and historians up to the 1990s. The paper deals with the evaluation of Turkish academic literature on China and tries to reveal the topography of China oriented academic works with some insight into academic community. First, it briefly reviews the Sino-Turkish relations and recent developments of China studies in Turkey. Thereafter, findings of the survey based on the examination of master and PhD theses in the field of social sciences in Turkey are discussed.

It shows a positive correlation between quantitative growth of theses and diversification of research areas and the post 1980 transformation process of China in one hand, and the growth of Turkey-China relations in the other. Moreover, the academic motives and aims have changed compared to those of the early period. The researchers are now more oriented to China’s present and future than its past and they tend to understand and explain China’s rising, its future and its influence on Turkey’s economy with a more pragmatic approach.