In a context of confusion and flashy journalism, rigour becomes a precious value.
France will double the funds for Islamic studies in their Universities. UK invests money in areas with big Muslim communities.
European governments are proposing different recipes to stop the radicalisation happening among some Muslim communities inside their borders.
Thousands of European citizens have joined Daesh (ISIS) in their violent fight, most of them leaving from France, Belgium, the UK, Netherlands and Denmark.
FRANCE: STATE-FUNDED TRAINING FOR IMAMS
France’s government aims to better control the training of future Muslim religious leaders.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced last week that the state would finance double the number of university courses on Islam.
There are currently six universities in France offering courses in Islamic studies and theology. Valls said he wanted to double that number to 12 and that the courses would be free.
In a speech in Strasbourg, Valls said that “the rise of far-right populist politics, in Europe as well as in our own country, feeds directly off the rise of jihadism, terrorism and radical extremism”. “It is a situation that puts our democracy, our society and our capacity to live together in extreme jeopardy.”
Valls added that he wanted more imams and other religious figures, such as prison chaplains, who have been trained abroad to “undergo more training in France, to speak French fluently and to understand the concept of secularism” that is a core pillar of French Republican values.
Valls explained this would not mean the state will try to change Islam itself: “But there will be no laws, decrees or government directives to define what Islam means,” Valls said. “The French state will never attempt to take control of a religion.”
EFFORTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA TO REACH YOUNG MUSLIMS
Other efforts in France included the release of a graphic video that “deciphers jihadist propaganda” in order to discourage young people from going to the Middle East to fight alongside extremists by saying they will find “hell on earth.”
The video with the hashtag #StopJihadisme was published in a bid to counter calls to join extremist groups in the Middle East, including the Islamic State militants who are rampaging through parts of Syria and Iraq.
UK: LEARN ENGLISH AND EMBRACE “BRITISH VALUES”
In the UK, David Cameron’s government counter-extremism strategy will call for a ban on radicals working unsupervised with children over fears the young could be brainwashed, according to the Telegraph newspaper. Other measures include a requirement that staff at job centres identify vulnerable claimants who may become targets for radicalisation.
There will also be an introduction of penalties in the benefits system to make people learn English to improve their integration into British society.
The rules on granting citizenship will also be tightened to ensure new residents embrace “British values”. The crackdown is part of a new “get tough” strategy to deal with the perceived growing threat to the UK from Islamist extremists.
EXTRA RESOURCES TO MUSLIM AREAS
The UK government also wants to prevent more British youngsters from being lured into terrorism as a result of jihadi propaganda by rushing fresh resources into new areas from where Muslim men have travelled overseas to join Daesh (ISIS) and other jihadi groups.
The cities of Brighton, Coventry and Portsmouth have been added to the list of areas needing support under the government’s 40 million pound grassroots counter-extremism strategy “Prevent”, after clusters of young men from the cities travelled to fight in Syiria.
The “Prevent” strategy, which the UK Home Office says aims to “stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism”, ranges from funding community campaigns to mentoring young people at risk of being drawn into violent extremism to involving schools and universities in vigilance.
AUSTRIA: FOREIGN FUNDING OF MOSQUES BANNED
Austria was one of the first countries in the continent to pass a law to stop radical propaganda in mosques, two weeks ago.
To combat the rising risk of radical indoctrination of foreign origin, the legislation bans Islamic cultural organisations and imams in Austria from receiving funding from abroad.
It also requires the nearly 450 Muslim organisations in the country to demonstrate a “positive approach towards society and the state” in order to continue receiving official licensing.
Imams will be obliged to be able to speak German under the law in a bid to make their comments more accessible and transparent, while also facilitating the fuller integration of Islam into wider Austrian society.
Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz said Austria’s government will work to promote an “Islam of European character.”