Skip to main content

Radicalisation, Secularism and the Governance of Religion: Bringing together European and Asian Perspectives

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GREASE (Radicalisation, Secularism and the Governance of Religion: Bringing together European and Asian Perspectives)

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2019-12-31

In Europe, traditional paradigms of republicanism and multiculturalism are in crisis, and viable alternatives are yet to emerge in response to these convulsions, which include mass population mobility and violent radicalisation. Various European states are struggling to combine national and religious identities and to accept and navigate the presence, needs and rights of multiple ethnic and religious minorities in a way that allows them to coexist within state-based institutional systems and concepts of citizenship. The H2020 project Radicalisation, Secularism and the Governance of Religion: Bringing together European and Asian Perspectives (GREASE) critically investigates state-religion models, the governance of religious diversity both in and outside of the EU - specifically, in Europe’s Southern and Eastern Neighbourhood, in South and Southeast Asia and in the Asia-Pacific region – with the aim of proposing constructive conceptual frameworks and formulating innovative policy ideas that can illuminate potential models and solutions. GREASE seeks to better understand the connection between state-religion relations, governance of religious diversity and religious radicalization processes, in order to inform European efforts to prevent and counter religious radicalization. In doing so, we pay special attention to the entanglement between the religious dimension, national and international politics in ways that exacerbate populist and nationalistic dynamics, which is one of the most pressing issues of our times.
During the project’s first year, the GREASE consortium developed an analytical framework and classification of different country approaches, critically reviewing existing research and setting the epistemological ‘context’ – empirical, political and conceptual – with regard to state-religion relationships and radicalisation trends in Europe and selected world regions (Eurasia, MENA, South and Southeast Asia, Asia-Pacific).
Following this, project partners carried out the mapping of state-religion relations in 23 countries in different regions of Europe, Eurasia, the MENA region, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Asia-Pacific. To disseminate these findings in a more accessible format, all Country Reports were accompanied by briefer Country Profiles, that provide an overview of religious freedoms and radicalisation trends in a few pages.
The project team is developing a set of State-Religion Governance Indicators that assess the direction of change in terms of political secularism, religious pluralism and violent radicalisation (and efforts to address it) in each country. These indicators serve to map trends and identify inter-connections in a schematic way during the past two decades.
We produced educational materials in the form of two Massive Open Online courses (MOOCs) on the Governing Religion: European Challenges and Asian Approaches; and on Religion, Radicalisation, Resilience; which are free and accessible tools to learn and reflect upon the compelling issues of religious diversity, resilience, and violent radicalisation.
Beyond publishing reports and participating in academic exchanges and debates, the GREASE Consortium also produced two documentary films that bring to the screen people’s first-hand experiences with religious belonging and national identity.
Stemming from the in-depth country-mapping research carried out as part of researching different models of religious diversity governance, the richness of cases led to further work on the Country Reports in order to turn them into chapters that will contribute to a Handbook on Religious Diversity Governance, which will be published by Routledge.
In order to disseminate our findings into the broader public as well as policy and academic community in Europe and beyond, a step that was taken and that went beyond initial expectations has been to collaborate with the project BRaVE (Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism) to set up the Blog Global Extremes on open Democracy. Taking advantage of the synergies with the BRaVE project, a joint workshop on Preventing Violent Extremism and Radicalisation Indicators for Good Governance will take place in Brussels on April 3rd, 2020, involving a range of experts, practitioners and policy-makers, which will ensure engagement with civil society and stakeholders.
GREASE group photo kick off meeting