Brussels : The European Union’s counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove called here Wednesday for the development of a “European Islam” as a means to counter youth radicalization in Europe.
“We have to develop a European Islam. This is a big challenge,” he told a seminar on countering youth radicalization, organized this evening by the Brussels-based think-tank of the European Policy Centre.
Kerchove, a Belgian, said that Imams (prayer leaders) must learn the language of the European country where they live and preach in.
Socially and politically-frustrated youth and lack of integration were among the causes of radicalization, he noted.
“It is not a question of religion. It is a hijacking of religion,” said the EU anti-terror czar.
On his part, Rik Coolsaet, professor of international relations at Belgium’s Ghent University, condemned the exaggerated perception of threat to Europe by radicalization of some Muslim youth.
“You have to be a paranoid person to think that a small number of people can be an existential threat,” he said, calling for an end to stigmatization of one’s community.