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75 3 “No, I’m Not a Salafist” Salafism, Secularism, and Securitization in the Netherlands MARTIJN DE KONING In Dutch counterradicalization policies and the debates on Islam today, the focus is almost entirely on the phenomenon of foreign fighters who left the country to go to Syria to join the Islamic State or Jabhat al-Nusra. In these debates, the young men and women who traveled to Syria are often linked to Salafism: an Islamic trend. Salafism, however, is much more than the foreign-fighter phenomenon, and most Dutch Salafi preachers, in fact, denounced both the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra (de Koning et al. 2014). This chapter examines the dominant factions within Dutch Sala­ fism before 2013, when the foreign-fighter phenomenon became a contentious issue. In September 2012, I attended a meeting in Utrecht titled “Salafisme—een kennismaking” (Salafism—an Introduction), organized by a Dutch student union. At this meeting, Abu Yasin, a prominent Dutch Salafi preacher, talked about what Salafism meant to him. After a lively debate, Abu Yasin told a number of us that after a terrorist attack a journalist asked him if he was a “Salafist.” “No, I’m not a Salafist,” he replied. But why would a preacher who is happy to speak at a public meeting on Salafism and identify himself as “someone following the Salafi manhaj [method]” deny his affiliation to a journalist and then recount this story to others? Abu Yasin’s reply to the journalist, the debate about Salafism, and our participation in the debate cannot be understood without a consideration of the Dutch Islam debates in which Salafism often appears as the poster boy of so-called radical Islam. The Dutch Islam debates have been 76  ■  Martijn de Koning so pervasive that it is difficult for Muslims to avoid the politics of identity, Islamophobia, and the stigmatization that result from it. Abu Yasin apparently was attempting to elude the negative definitions of Islam and Sala­ fism while simultaneously presenting and positioning himself in response to these imposed definitions. Abu Yasin denied being a “Salafist” because he thought the journalist equated the label with violence, terrorism, and al-Qaeda. “No, I’m not a Salafist” then becomes a mode of resistance challenging what Abu Yasin perceives as accepted and anticipated answers to questions such as “Who am I?” and “What am I supposed to be?” (Cadman 2010). It is this type of “everyday resistance” that is the central focus of this chapter, which is based on my research in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.1 After a short introduction to Salafism as a utopian trend, I analyze different styles of activism—transcendence, reversal or inversion, and escape—to explain the various modes of engagement in a type of resistance Michel Foucault (1982) calls “counterconduct.” This resistance is not a response to changing political and economic structures but rather an effort to evade a government’s attempts to monitor and regulate Muslims as Muslims, but at the same time Salafi Muslims opt for a different mode of regulation. As I argue, this type of counterconduct is closely related to Dutch integration policies and the “Dutch Islam” debate, both as the locus 1. This research began in 2007 as part of the project Salafism as a Transnational Movement of the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World and Radboud University Nijmegen and the project Forces That Bind or Divide funded by the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek of the University of Amsterdam. Since 2007, I have spoken to and followed (on- and offline) forty-eight men and fifteen women, most of them between sixteen and twenty-five years old and from Moroccan Dutch backgrounds but also including several native Dutch converts to Islam and a number of Turkish Dutch and Somali Dutch Muslims. Most of the interviews were conducted in informal settings; the interviews with women were conducted via email and chat programs. I also spoke to ten Dutch Salafis who migrated to the United Kingdom . I thank Annelies Moors, Femke Kaulingfreks, and Stijn Sieckelink for their useful comments on earlier versions of this paper. All names have been changed to protect the interviewees’ identities. Salafism, Secularism, and Securitization  ■  77 of resistance and as a method of determining the terms that make resistance possible and meaningful. Governmentality: Securitization, Secularism, and Integration Foucault’s notion of governmentality is intimately connected to resistance .2 Instead of reducing the mechanisms of power to repression or hierarchy, Foucault’s notion...


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