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

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GREASE (Radicalisation, Secularism and the Governance of Religion: Bringing together European and Asian Perspectives)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-03-31

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 second year, the GREASE consortium developed 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 comprise a toolkit that is in open access and applicable to any country, as well as specific country assessments for the 23 country cases covered by the project. A map-based visualisation interface was created to illustrate our country assessment findings and to simplify accessing our country indicators using basic digital tools. Two online workshops with held in September 2020 to present the GREASE indicators and engage a total of over 200 participants from around the world.
Stemming from the in-depth research on different models of religious diversity governance carried out in the first year of the project, the country reports were turned into chapters for a Handbook on the Governance of Religious Diversity, which was published by Routledge in January 2021.
In parallel, project partners carried out the research necessary to assess the efforts by 12 countries to counter religious radicalisation and violence and to build resilience. Each case study analysed the religious diversity governance in the given country, state and non-state approaches to countering violent extremism, illustrated by one or more crisis events. Each report concludes with suggestions for good practices, some offering concrete recommendations. These various recommendations were selected, further articulated and organized in an International Handbook of Good Practices for Building Resilience Against Violent Religious Radicalisation.
We continued to run and moderate the educational materials that had been developed previously in the form of two Massive Open Online courses (MOOCs) on the Governing Religion: Global Challenges and Comparative 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. We also continue to publish blog articles on current events connected to the GREASE research on openDemocracy’s Global Extremes.
Additionally, two documentary films that bring to the screen people’s first-hand experiences with religious belonging, national identity, and radicalization, were finalised and are now publicly available as teaching resources both on a dedicated website as well as on YouTube.
Consortium meetings, conference presentations, and the planning of 4 Online Regional Dialogue Workshops all carried on in virtual form given the ongoing travel restrictions caused by the pandemic.
A presentation of the abovementioned Routledge Handbook on the Governance of Religious Diversity, which came out in January 2021, was hosted online by Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, engaging with policymakers and diplomats beyond the initial expectations we had for the country case reports on state-religion relations.
The visualizations on the GREASE indicators constitute an additional tool to make the research results more accessible to civil society and stakeholders.
Between May and June 2021 four Online Regional Dialogue Workshops are taking place involving a range of experts, practitioners and policy-makers, and we expect to be able to conduct 2 or 3 further in person meetings.
GREASE Research Team