In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the issue of jihadism became a pervasive feature of the political landscape and discourse in western countries. Although it used to be restricted to remote areas of the Muslim world, from the south of the Mediterranean to the Middle East and Afghanistan, jihadism struck the very heart of the financial, economic, and military power of the United States on that day.
Since then, the internationalist perspective of jihad has become a key challenge of our time, raising serious concerns about the scope of the phenomenon, its force of mobilisation and its capability to strike at random, as sadly demonstrated by the wave of terrorism that has been affecting Europe for nearly two years.
The rapid spread of jihadism, commonly understood as a violent expression of radical Islamism, casts a shadow over the origins, the content, and the semantic development of a complex concept. What are the commonalities between the calls for jihad issued by groups as different and geographically remote from each other as Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, the Islamic State, or al-Qaeda? What are the ongoing dynamics and developments in radical Islamist movements? What is the exact meaning of terms such as “Islamism”, “jihadism” and “radicalism”, and what are their political and religious foundations?
We are pleased to welcome Dr François Burgat, political scientist and an authority on Islam and the contemporary Arab world. He will share with us his analysis of the emergence and evolution of contemporary jihad as well as its doctrinal and political implications.