Dr. Noureddine Jebnoun, adjunct professor in the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, recently participated in the South African Institute of International Affairs’ (SAIIA) conference, “Seeds of Contempt: Rethinking Radicalization and Responses.” The event was held in Johannesburg March 6 through 8, 2008, and Dr. Jebnoun presented a paper on radicalism in North Africa.
The conference correlated to SAIIA’s latest project, which aims to conduct case studies on radicalization across seven regions: Southern Africa, South Asia, the Middle East, West Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North Africa. Rather than simply provide a catalogue of incidents, the case studies develop conceptual models for examining radicalization in each area.
“Seeds of Contempt” brought together roughly 40 senior international policymakers, intelligence agents, and academic specialists to debate the findings of these case studies as well as a number of shorter thematic papers. Critically, senior representatives of key Islamic constituencies who have consistently been denied a place in discussions of radicalization took part.
Johannesburg’s Old Fort Prison, commonly known as “Number Four”—now the seat of the Constitutional Court of South Africa—served as the conference’s site. Political activists opposed to apartheid, such as Nelson Mandela, Albert Luthuli, Khehla Shubane, and other prominent figures of the African National Congress were held there. Mahatma Gandhi was also jailed in the prison in 1908 for resisting an ordinance dictating the segregation of Asians in the area.