Isolde CharimFundamentalism and Modernity

curated by Isolde Charim




The rise of fundamentalist movements in general and of the “Islamic State” (IS) in particular is a phenomenon of utmost urgency and symptomatic of a new threat to liberal society. Starting from the Syrian-Iraqi scene, the conflict in the Near East has in the meantime spread all the way to our own latitudes. With the targeted and successful recruitment of young people socialized in the West this presents a new challenge to our pluralistic societies. Jihad tourism and the considerably larger circle of sympathizers associated with Austrian/European society faces a dual challenge.
On the one hand, the central-eastern front cuts across local vocational schools and youth arenas, such as, for example, where young people of Kurdish origin come into conflict with Muslim youths coming from fanaticized backgrounds.
On the other hand, the question arises as to how we can cope with the ever more intensive radicalization of Muslim or converted young people who choose to adopt a fundamentalist second identity that in most cases has little to do with their family upbringing. How do we respond to the rejection of the socialization of these young people in our countries? The problem of a potential de-radicalization can by no means be left exclusively to deterrent security policy measures. This phenomenon is not to be interpreted as a failure of integration, i.e. a lack of adjustment; it also mirrors the inability of a society to cope with its existing pluralism in real life.
The Kreisky Forum wishes to launch a new lecture series in order to address this set of problems. In the course of this series, concrete questions are to be discussed relating to strategies for preventing the drift to radicalization, as well as to the fundamental problems facing liberal society:
• How does a liberal society cope with violence?
• How does a liberal society respond to a threat to its liberalism?
• How can an open society avoid its clamping down?

This dual threat – from outside and from within its own ranks – defines the framework of issues to be dealt with in this series.
As an opening event, the Bruno Kreisky Forum plans to organize an international seminar dealing with the practical challenge posed by the IS. The discussions will focus on theoretical questions concerning the causes and definition of this phenomenon, issues relating to the interactions between fundamentalism and the modern world as well as strategies required for combating this development.



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