The network of researchers and scholars are currently engaged in two interdisciplinary projects exploring the experiences of Muslim minorities in the West and providing empirical analysis of the impact of post-9/11 securitization strategies on Muslim communities in a transatlantic perspective.

The Islam in the West Program at Harvard University

Harvard’s Islam in the West Program is an interfaculty collaboration project that seeks to enhance knowledge on Muslim minorities in secular and democratic contexts in the West, assist students from different disciplines engaged in the study of this subject in finding guidance and resources, develop a collaborative group of Harvard faculty members from different disciplines with an interest in the subject, and advance knowledge in a relatively new and increasingly important area of research.

Directed by Dr. Jocelyne Cesari, Professor of Political Science and Senior Researcher of GSRL Paris, the program is a collaboration between the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Center for European Studies, the Anthropology Department, the Government Department, the Divinity School, the Prince Bin Talal Program of Islamic Studies and the Islamic Legal Studies Program of the Harvard Law School. It is funded by the MacArthur and Carnegie Foundations.

The CHALLENGE Project: Securitization and Religious Divides in Europe

Since the 9/11 and 7/7 terrorist attacks, the traditional challenges of creating secure states while upholding civil liberties have intensified. The political insistence on danger as well as the necessity to protect citizens from the risks of radicalism have made secondary concerns of freedom, individual privacy, and civil rights, and security a greater priority for countries across Europe.

Since 9/11, prejudice against Muslims as a consequence of the terrorist attacks has been reported. However, none have provided in-depth analysis of the discrimination process against Muslims in a transatlantic perspective, nor combined such analysis with empirical research on the political and cultural consequences for Muslim groups and their integration within European societies. Securitization and Religious Divides in Europe, a research project initiated by GSRL Paris, intends to fill this gap in research.

The CHALLENGE project responds to widespread concerns about the resort to specific illiberal practices by contemporary liberal regimes. “The Changing Landscape of European Liberty and Security,” is a European Commission-funded project that seeks to facilitate a more responsive and responsible assessment of rules and practices of security. These practices are linked with the identification of increasing insecurities globally, insecurities that are widely interpreted as obliging sterner policies from the authorities and, consequently, new constraints on principles of liberty under law and presumptions about the innocence of individuals. Specifically, the project examines tensions created by claims that ‘security is the first freedom’ and that a new ‘balance’ has to be established to manage the global scale of contemporary dangers. 

  • Abstracts of the CHALLENGE Annual Conference: Illiberal practices of Liberal Regimes: The roots of the liberal state and its relation to security, sovereignty and justice (Paris: June 9, 2006)
  • Muslims In Western Europe After 9/11: Why the term Islamophobia is more a Predicament than an Explanation: The principal aim of this report is to highlight the multi-layered levels of discrimination encountered by Muslims. This phenomenon cannot simply be subsumed into the term Islamophobia. Indeed, the term can be misleading, as it presupposes the pre-eminence of religious discrimination when other forms of discrimination (such as racial or class) may be more relevant. We therefore intend to use the term Islamophobia as a starting point for analyzing the different dimensions that define the political situation of Muslim minorities in Europe. We will not to take the term for granted by assigning it only one meaning, such as anti-Islamic discourse.
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