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Hotbed of Radicalization or Something Else?: An Ethnographic Exploration of a Muslim Neighborhood in Ceuta

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A series of police raids in Príncipe Alfonso, a Muslim neighborhood located in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, “confirmed” law enforcement officers' worst fears: the barrio, long considered a hotbed of Islamist radicalization, had succumbed to the influence of extremists, making Spain more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. However, the meager results of the raids, as well as delays in the ensuing criminal investigation, raised troubling questions about the alleged terrorist plot and outsiders' perceptions of the Muslim community. Seeking answers to these questions, I conducted ethnographic field work in Príncipe shortly after the raids, interviewing residents, activists, and officials and observing the community at length. The community I experienced did not match the neighborhood I had read about. This article, the first ethnographic study of Ceuta to focus on radicalization, challenges conventional understandings of Príncipe Alfonso and highlights the value of ethnographic field work in terrorism studies.
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Keywords: Ceuta; Morocco; Spain; ethnography; radicalization; terrorism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs,University of Pittsburgh, PittsburghPennsylvania, USA

Publication date: 01 September 2011

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