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Political Islam, World Politics, and Europe: Democratic Politics and Euro-Islam versus Global Jihad

By Schwartz, Stephen | Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

Political Islam, World Politics, and Europe: Democratic Politics and Euro-Islam versus Global Jihad


Schwartz, Stephen, Middle East Quarterly


Political Islam, World Politics, and Europe: Democratic Politics and Euro-Islam versus Global Jihad. By Bassam Tibi. London and New York: Routledge, 2007. 3 12 pp. $170.

Tibi, a leading figure in the debate over the future of Islam in Europe, is a Muslim believer born in Syria and professor in international relations at Goettingen, Germany. His challenging volume presents an exceptionally broad and detailed survey of main topics that will likely become a standard reference work on Islamist ideology in Europe.

Tibi is committed to a moderate and pluralistic form of Islam, which supports democratic principles, for a Europe in which Muslims could live on equal, non-confrontational terms with their non-Muslim and non-religious neighbors. His approach will doubtless be especially provocative to those who deny that a moderate Islam is possible, much less can flourish, or who see the new presence of Islam in Western Europe as a threat to a major component of Judeo-Christian civilization.

Tibi writes, "It matters whether a political jihadist Islam or a civil Euro-Islam will prevail among Muslims living in Europe." He further declares, "I want to warn against any indiscriminate criticism of the Islamic diaspora inEurope and propose my concept of Euro-Islam as an alternative tojihadism."

Tibi has summarized "Euro-Islam" by posing the question, "Europeanizing Islam vs. the Islamization of Europe?" He reproaches historian Bernard Lewis for "an exaggeration" when Lewis warned that Europe would become "an Islamic space" by the end of the twenty-first century. But Tibi acknowledges that "it is certain, however, that Muslims are on their way to becoming in the next few decades a very powerful and major sector of the European population.

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