Polarization, Stigmatization, Radicalization. Counterterrorism and Homeland Security in France and Germany


  • Witold Mucha Dr., Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf


Counterterrorism, Germany, France, Deradicalization, Countering Violent Extremism


The article analyzes the commonalities and differences of counterterrorism (CT) practices applied by governments in France and Germany and their effects on the local ground. Altogether, there has been a qualitative difference of CT responses. Paris has launched more extensive measures than Berlin. Regardless of the differences, the policies of both governments lack attention towards the unintended effects of these specific measures. For instance, the concern raised by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International (AI) about the prolongation of the state of emergency in France is one starting point of analysis. AI accused the French authorities of abetting home-grown radicalization as a result of the discriminate repression in marginalized suburbs of Paris. The paper’s argument is twofold: First, decision-makers in Paris and Berlin respond to terrorist threats in a one-sided and linear way. Second, they disregard that the very CT measures are likely to fuel radicalization. In this light, polarization and stigmatization breed radicalization. Based on this discussion, policy recommendations will be presented. Amongst other things, these recommendations include a more symmetric integration of local actors in the overall de-radicalization effort. This refers to the content and tone of public debates as well as to the equal treatment of prison imams.


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