- Suspect communities—targeting violent extremism at the local level: policies of engagement in Amsterdam, Berlin, and London
- Terrorism and Political Violence
- Volume | Issue number
- 26 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Throughout Europe, authorities have set up new policy measures and programs to curb homegrown violent extremists. This article describes local policy responses to violent Islamic extremism—and/or the mere threat of it—in the neighborhoods Oost in Amsterdam, Moabit and Soldiner Kiez in Berlin, and Tower Hamlets in London. Based on locally conducted fieldwork, the study compares and contrasts these neighborhoods’ approaches and aims to make a first assessment of their effects. A major finding for all three cities is that authorities target the entire local Muslim community rather than a few select individuals. This can lead to the construction of suspect communities, an approach with possible paradoxical effects on targeting actual violent extremists. Suspect communities subsequently create stigmatization, exclusion, and possibly marginalization, which not only has negative consequences for involved groups, but may well produce a breeding ground for future violence. However, the author did not find that engagement with Islamic organizations or individuals was used to directly change the nature of local Muslim communities. Orthodox and non-violent extremist organizations and individuals in all three cities were potential partners for engagement, which probably lowers the chance of stigmatizing the suspect communities.
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