Key Facts

Berlin Institute for Empirical Integration and Migration reserach (BIM), Humboldt University Berlin

Principal Investigators:

  • Prof. Dr. Naika Foroutan
  • Dr. Özgür Özvatan

Research associates:

  • Rami Ali, M.A.
  • Emeti Alisch, M.A.
  • Fatima El Sayed, M.A.
  • Nader Hotait, M.A.
  • Bastian Neuhauser, M.A.

 Duration: 09/2020 – 08/2023


Publications in English

  • Özvatan, Özgür/Neuhauser, Bastian/Yurdakul, Gökçe (2023): The ‘Arab Clans’ Discourse: Narrating Racialization, Kinship, and Crime in the German Media. In: Social Sciences 12 (2), 104. [Download]
  • Özvatan, Özgür (2022): De/legitimising EUrope through the performance of crises: The far-right Alternative for Germany on 'climate hysteria' and 'corona hysteria'. In: Journal of Language and Politics, 21(2), 208-232.

“German Islam” as an Alternative to Islamism? (D:ISLAM)

Responses to Islamist Threats in Muslim Associations, Communities and Living Environments

What impact does Islamism have on Muslim communities in Germany? This question is rarely asked, even though Islamists apply pressure on Muslim communities through various strategies. For example, they accuse the mosques associations in the diaspora of having lost access to the "true Islam" or aggressively recruit young people in associations and schools. Bringing missionary material and handing it out free of charge, they try to manipulate and recruit community members. The strategies on how Muslim organisations, (mosque) associations and individual Muslim initiatives and individuals deal with the phenomenon of Islamism does vary. Awareness-raising actions and coaching for community members are just as much a part of it as attempts to expel the Islamists from the community or to integrate them into the community structures in order to neutralize their influence. In some cases, external help is also sought – which gives opportunities for new structures of prevention, such as telephone counselling, deradicalisation trainings, self-help or opt-out groups.

The project D:Islam investigates how Muslim communities are threatened by Islamists and how they react to this.

The aim is to identify the contours of a "German Islam" that seeks to establish itself in the area of tension between Islamist and anti-Muslim threats. The results will be used to develop preventive measures in collaboration with Muslim communities and the Alhambra Society.

The project examines if and how Muslim communities are exposed to threats from Islamist phishing strategies. For this purpose, D:Islam analyses Islamist recruitment strategies on two levels: (1) online strategies, using Big Data and discourse network analyses and (2) offline strategies, through qualitative expert interviews with actors involved in prevention and deradicalisation work.

In addition, the project explores the defence strategies of Muslim communities in response to threats from radicalisation and Islamism. D:Islam maps the threat potentials of Islamism for different community actors and conducts a qualitative analysis of community reactions, based on 80 qualitative interviews conducted nationwide with Muslim organizations, (mosque) associations, as well as individual Muslim initiatives and persons.

Alongside the mapping of threat potentials and defence strategies, the project team is investigating questions of the hybridization of Islam. Can hybridization processes be detected in the practice of the Islamic faith and the expression of a Muslim identity as part of the reactions? Analogous to historical forms of adaptations of Islam, mentioning for example a "Turkish Islam", "Indonesian Islam" or a "French Islam" in different contexts, the project will investigate whether a specific form of a "German Islam" is identifiable and, if so, how it is expressed.  Furthermore, the project explores whether a "German Islam" is perceived as an externally enforced concept - a buzzword being imposed "state Islam" - or whether the concept can be explained by a diasporic hybridization, possibly also resulting from delineations against Islamism or religious control from the former countries of origin. The project addresses these questions with comparative narrative and discourse analyses.

Film "Project D:ISLAM" | Duration 2"06' | Production Ute Seitz | PRIF 2023

How are Muslim communities threatened by Islamists and how do they react? The project "D:Islam" addresses this question and explores to what extent a "German Islam" emerges as a reaction to Islamism. In the interview, Dr Özgür Özvatan explains the research methods of the project and underlines how discourses about a "German Islam" trigger social negotiation processes. Read more.