Innovative Social Work Practices by Islamic Grassroots Organizations in Switzerland
In Switzerland, specific issues related to Muslims have recently emerged in public debates. In addition to the question of radicalization, Muslim migrant populations are affected by social problems such as crime, marginalization, and overrepresentation in prisons. This situation has drawn the state’s attention to the need for implementing new responses to the challenges of religious extremism and social exclusion, particularly involving Muslims. While local authorities have organized trainings and projects to tackle these issues, Islamic grassroots associations have developed some initiatives to address the needs of the population, not only focusing on problems related to Islam and Muslims but also on Swiss society as a whole. Based on a case study of Islamic organizations providing social welfare services, this paper questions the inclusion of such faith-based projects within mainstream society and the area of social work, considering particularly the relation between Islamic organizations and the state.