The sweeping popularity of right-wing forces that rally against Islam and Muslim migration points to an underlying social conflict. The roots of this conflict are often believed to lie in the inherent incompatibility of Western and Islamic civilisations. However, there are a number of cases of neo-Nazis joining Islamic terrorist organisations and far-right party leaders converting to Islam. This shows that the relationship between the far-right and Islam is much more complex than is commonly thought. Understanding this relationship is vital for the successful implementation of anti-radicalism measures. My goal is to contribute to our understanding by investigating how Islam becomes a tool in the hands of European white nationalists.
The study will focus on the Russian and German branches of the transnational network of converts to Islam, the World Murabitun Movement (WMM). These two branches have been the most explicit in defining the ideology of exclusivist ‘White Islam’. I will collect data by analysing online content (WP1) and conducting field interviews in Russia and Germany (WP2). I will use digital methods of qualitative text analysis to examine discourses produced by WMM members, and conduct Social Network Analysis to map ideological connections between WMM and other European far-right forces (WP1-3). These WPs will help to identify strategies that are used to give rise to exclusivist ‘White Islam’, while opening new avenues of research into religious and political radicalism.
This fellowship will provide a rich pathway towards my professional goal of becoming an expert on political Islam. Researching and training at two leading institutes in the US and the Netherlands will deepen my expertise and add complementary digital skills that will greatly enhance the competitiveness of my scientific profile (WP6). The main stakeholders, as well as the scientific community, will be involved through a multi-platform dissemination and public outreach strategy (WP4-5).
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