The Secular State and the Geography of Radicalism

Ahmad, Irfan. 2009b. “The Secular State and the Geography of Radicalism”.Economic and Political Weekly. XLIV(23): 33– 38.

Abstract: The burgeoning scholarship on Islamist radicalisation or terrorism – both popular as well as academic – is mostly alarmist. Too often Islamist radicalisation is understood as an offshoot of some deeply entrenched values or that the culture of Islam is incompatible with modernity. This article argues that Islamist radicalisation should be seen as a political phenomenon and that it cannot be divorced from the practices and the role of the State. It focuses on the Students Islamic Movement of India and argues that its radicalisation, manifest in its call for jihad, is largely a consequence of the failure of the Indian secular State to stop the recurring violence against Muslim minority. This article also examines the premises that underpin the media’s portrayal of Islam and Muslims and concludes by raising the issue of vulnerability in writing about Islam and radicalisation.