Muslims in 21st Century Europe: Structural and Cultural Perspectives

Muslims in 21st Century Europe: Structural and Cultural Perspectives

Muslims in 21st Century Europe: Structural and Cultural Perspectives

Muslims in 21st Century Europe: Structural and Cultural Perspectives

Synopsis

Muslims in 21st Century Europe explores the interaction between native majorities and Muslim minorities in various European countries with a view to highlighting different paths of integration of immigrant and native Muslims.

Starting with a critical overview of the institutionalisation of Islam in Europe and a discussion on the nature of Muslimophobia as a social phenomenon, this book shows how socio-economic, institutional and political parameters set the frame for Muslim integration in Europe. Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden are selected as case studies among the 'old' migration hosts. Italy, Spain and Greece are included to highlight the issues arising and the policies adopted in southern Europe to accommodate Muslim claims and needs.

The book highlights the internal diversity of both minority and majority populations, and analyses critically the political and institutional responses to the presence of Muslims.

Excerpt

This book explores the interaction and integration between native majorities and Muslim minorities in different European countries. Taking into account the internal diversity of both minority and majority populations, it critically analyses the political and institutional responses to the presence of Muslims and how national governments and other stakeholders promote commonality or difference.

Europe has experienced increasing tensions between national majorities and marginalized Muslim communities. Such conflicts have included: the violence in northern England between native British and Asian Muslim youth (2001); the civil unrest amongst France’s Muslim Maghrib communities (2005); and the Danish cartoon crisis in 2006 following the publication of pictures of the Prophet Muhammad. Muslim communities have also come under intense scrutiny in the wake of the terrorist events in the United States (2001), Spain (2004) and England (2005). There is growing scepticism amongst European governments over the question of Turkey’s accession into the European Union, a country that is socioculturally and religiously different from the present EU-27 (European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia 2006a; 2006b).

During the first years of the twenty-first century, politicians and academics have been debating intensively the reasons underlying such tensions and what should be done to enhance civic cohesion in European societies. One question raised by these debates is how much cultural diversity can truly be accommodated within liberal and secular democracies. Some thinkers and politicians have advanced the claim that it is impossible to accommodate Muslims in European countries because their cultural traditions and religious faith are incompatible with secular democratic states. Others have argued that Muslims can be accommodated in the socio-political order of European societies provided they adhere to a set of civic values that lie at the heart of European democratic traditions and that reflect the secular nature of society and politics in Europe. Others still have questioned the kind of secularism that underpins state institutions in Europe.

The debate has been intensive in the media, in political forums as well as in scholarly circles. In policy terms, the main conclusion drawn from such debates has been that multicultural policies have failed and that returning to an . . .

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