Radicalisation in European cities

Hotbeds of anger and resentment

According to sociologist Farhad Khosrokhavar, one of the significant factors of jihadist radicalisation in Europe is a type of city district he describes as the "jihadogenous urban structure". This type of urban structure shapes the identity of those who are socially excluded and culturally stigmatised

By jihadogenous urban structure I mean an urban setting that is the venue for jihadist callings, at a much higher rate than in the other districts of the city.

In Europe, one of the significant and even essential factors of jihadist radicalisation is the city. Not any city. But a type of district within the city that we may call the jihadogenous urban structure.

In almost all European countries there are neighbourhoods where the number of young people leaving for Syria (foreign fighters) as well as the number of followers of internal jihadism (home-grown jihadists) are much higher than the national average. The trial of the survivors of twenty young people who went to Syria between 2013 and 2015 from the southern French town of Lunel is a case that is replicated in other European countries in more or less similar forms. In Lunel, it is the social housing district of Abrivados, in which a significant number of young people were indoctrinated by the extremist Islamic holy war ideology.

Jihadist concentration in some neighbourhoods may be due to two distinct types of effects:

Firstly, within these neighbourhoods, young people have known each other through formal or informal networks, friends, or members of the same family and their ties; the district may be that of the middle classes, without any apparent sign of disadvantage among candidates for the holy war; this type of neighbourhood and the calling of the middle classes towards jihadism are largely in a minority in Europe.

High-rise apartment buildings in a Paris suburb (photo: Al Jazeera English)
According to Farhad Khosrokhavar, the "specificity of the urban structure" is one reason for the jihadist concentration in some neighbourhoods, some of which are isolated from the city because of poor public transport links or because of an imagined line of mental demarcation that separates the stigmatised neighbourhood from other areas and "awakens in these young people the feeling of a dichotomous humanity where communication between the two is impossible". Pictured here: high-rise apartment buildings in a Paris suburb

Secondly, the specificity of the urban structure: the concentration of young people of similar ethnic origin (e.g. North Africa in France; Pakistan and Bangladesh in Great Britain; Morocco in Belgium) in areas with the following characteristics: stigmatisation and anger among a part of the population; ghettoisation and the development of an underground economy (which attracts a part of the youth and predisposes them towards any form of transgression in contrast to the norms in force); a much higher unemployment rate than the national rate (in Lunel, around 20% and double this rate for young people of immigrant origin); a very high school drop-out rate; a delinquency rate well above the national average; a feeling of high stigmatisation among young boys, mostly of immigrant origin; a fragmented family structure: decapitated patriarchal families, single-parenthood and family instability, with the development of violence within the family and the children's homes (the Merah and Nemmouche families in France shared these characteristics); a strong sense of stigma, largely based on everyday life experience, amplified by the "aggressive" behaviour of excluded youth who feel themselves victims of society; the isolation of the neighbourhood which is more or less separated from the city for objective reasons (the absence of subway or bus lines) and partly imaginary ones (a line of mental demarcation often separates the stigmatised neighbourhood from other areas and awakens in these young people the feeling of a dichotomous humanity where communication between the two is impossible).

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Comments for this article: Hotbeds of anger and resentment

Conclusion: the structural violence of the state in the urban environment is a source.
Now, the author should turn to the violence of the state abroad: killing the brothers and sisters of the Muslim in whatever name, humiliation, Guantanamo, shitting on their Koran, Palestine, hypocrisy and suppprt of dictatorship, etc).

Nadeem03.08.2018 | 12:28 Uhr