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The Transcultural Ideology of Modern Jihad: a Response to the Fragile Lifeworlds in Europe and in the Post-Revolutionary Middle East?

starting July 2017

The so-called Arab Spring triggered worldwide hope for a transition to democracy in the affected region. However, the fall into chaos of Libya, the re-instauration of a military regime in Egypt, the ongoing politico-economic struggle in Tunisia, the reinforcement of the armed conflict in Yemen and the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, have not only put an end to these hopes, but also increasingly confronted the international community with the question about how to deal with violent Islamism.

Two major networks of a transnational and transcultural form of violent Islamism have started an eager competition for power: the so-called Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda. Both have built a network and recruited fighters from all over the world.

Whereas the recruitment of Arab fighters to go for jihad in Afghanistan, Chechnya or Iraq was already quite common, today’s considerable involvement of youngsters with former European lifeworlds is a novelty. Hence, for European governments the question about their motivation has become vital in order to set up consistent de-radicalization programs.

Firstly, this project aims at analyzing the different strands of thought which have shaped the transcultural martial Salafi movement. Secondly, the project aims at understanding why this ideology has become so attractive to young people in Germany, Austria, Egypt and Tunisia. Finally, the research results shall provide a guideline for the set-up of a de-radicalization program in Austria and in Germany.

Photo: Salafi demonstration in Tunis (March 25, 2012)
© Eliane Ettmüller

Dr. Eliane Ettmüller

Dr. Eliane Ettmüller studied Political, Religious and Islamic Sciences at the Universities of Geneva, Complutense de Madrid and Heidelberg as well as at the Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales de Madrid. She worked as a scholar at the Facultad de Ciencias Políticas y Sociología at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid and at the Cluster of Excellence Asia and Europe in a Global Context in Heidelberg. She spent several years in Cairo and cooperated with different NGOs, research institutes and universities in Egypt.

Ettmüller worked for the ICRC as a delegate in Jordan and Uruguay and as a Researcher at the HQ of the same organization in Geneva. On the climax of the refugee crises in 2015/16 she was in charge of the emergency camp at Vordere Zollamtsstraße 7 in central Vienna, which was set up by the Austrian Red Cross with the aim to host up to 1500 people.

Ettmüller has been researching into subjects related to Islamism since 2004.



HCTS Stadtgespräch at Karl Jaspers Centre

Dr. Eliane Ettmüller organized the fourth HCTS Städtgespräch, which took place on July 27 at the HCTS and focused on „Flüchtlingsbetreuung: Ehemalige Heimleiter/innen berichten aus den Krisenjahren 2015 und 2016."


On June 28, Dr. Eliane Ettmüller, postdoctoral researcher at the HCTS in the Transcultural Forays initiative, was invited by Furtwangen University to give a lecture about "Frauen im Kampf für das Kalifat. Einblicke in die von Frauen propagierten Aspekte der dschihadistischen Ideologie." The lecture was part of the Studium Generale lecture series at Furtwangen University. At the HCTS, Ettmüller is working on "The Transcultural Ideology of Modern Jihad: a Response to the Fragile Lifeworlds in Europe and in the Post-Revolutionary Middle East?"

Dr. Eliane Ettmüller was invited by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung as a speaker to the 32nd Asia-Pacific-Roundtable held in Kuala Lumpur from May 7-9. On the panel "Future-Proofing against Violent Extremism", she talked about "Women Calling for Jihad: the Strategic Importance of Female Extremist Propaganda." Together with two other experts, Dr. Rommel Banlaoi from the Philippines Institute for Peace, Violence, and Terrorism Research, and Dwi Rubiyanti Kholifah, country director for the Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN) Indonesia, she discussed the role and danger of female participation in global Jihad.