Muslims in Western Europe

Muslims in Western Europe

Muslims in Western Europe

Muslims in Western Europe

Synopsis

"Muslims in Western Europe provides a useful introduction to the social, political, cultural and religious positions of Muslims living in Europe today. Starting with a brief account of earlier Muslim presences in Europe, Jorgen Nielsen then provides a survey of twentieth-century Muslim immigration, considering its courses and causes. The second part of the book consists of a country-by-country examination of the specific situation in the different European countries. He considers how Muslim communities have developed differently and compares their origins, their present day ethnic composition, distribution and organisational patterns, and the political, legal and cultural contexts in which they exist. The book also has a section devoted to the comparative consideration of issues common to Muslims in all Western European Countries, namely the role of the family, and the questions of worship, organisation, education and religious thought." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Until the mid-1980s, the documentation of the situation of Muslims in western Europe was sparse and emanated from a very few sources, most of them related either to Muslim or church-based organisations. Until that time, information about this aspect of current Islam had to be sifted out of the literature on immigrants, ethnic minorities and race relations. These were areas of academic study which had their own network of presumptions and disciplinary methods, in which religion and religious identity tended, at most, to be aspects of secondary interest and even then only of interest to those researchers who had a professional interest in the sociology of religion. Indeed, so dominated by the secular assumptions of academic sociology was the field, that well into the 1970s there seemed to be an expectation that communities of immigrant origin would quickly follow a course characterised by the privatisation of religion: one could look forward to the existence of ethnic minority communities who were integrated to the extent that their religion would have a place similar to that of the private Christianity of Protestant northern Europe or laicised Catholic France.

It was partly due to the refusal of a substantial proportion of the Muslim immigrants and their children to adhere to this model that the attitude of parts of the academic community began to alter during the mid-1980s. A few academics began to see valid research possibilities in the issues arising out of the Muslim presence in Europe. The process was helped by the realisation in local and national political structures that there was a growing 'Islamic factor' in the social and political processes associated with immigration and ethnic minority. This was not unconnected with events in the Middle East, where Islam had become a much more explicitly profiled element of some 'disruptive' potential, certainly as perceived from the western European point of view. It is no coincidence that this change took place at a time when the immigration of dependants had virtually ceased, when immigration was becoming a more overtly political question of refugees, and when a racist backlash was threatening the traditional party political systems of France and West Germany. In France and Britain especially, one was also witnessing the . . .

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