Academic journal article Insight Turkey

How Do Muslims Respond to Far Right Political Mobilization in Their European State?

Academic journal article Insight Turkey

How Do Muslims Respond to Far Right Political Mobilization in Their European State?

Article excerpt

Introduction (1)

Far right rhetoric and jihadi-inspired terrorist incidents have derailed progress on the minority protection initiatives begun in earnest with the European Year against Racism declared by the European Council of Ministers and representatives of the member states' governments in 1997. These efforts were intended to reduce disparities and polarizations in Europe by removing barriers to the full participation of minorities in European States. (2) The Council of Europe targeted eight key areas of life in its effort to monitor and improve parity between minorities, including Muslims, and those who call themselves "natives" of Europe. (3) The key areas are "employment, housing, healthcare, nutrition, education, information, culture and basic public functions (which include equality, anti-discrimination and self-organization)." (4) Reducing discrimination remains an elusive goal in this effort, though critical to minimizing minority/majority disparities and utilizing the talents of minorities in Europe. Discrimination predominately targets Muslims, whose conservative lifestyle and overt practice of religion draw unwanted attention in secular Europe, and far right parties have mobilized to deny Muslims a place in European culture. (5) The diversity protection initiatives that began twenty years ago are viewed with suspicion by those attracted to the nativism promoted by right wing populist parties. Regardless of Europe's need for labor and the demographic trough many member-states face, experts' recommendations for addressing these problems are not persuasive to some in the ethnic majority. Demographers, like the economist-technocrats guiding the European Parliament's policymaking or advising center-left political parties, face a skeptical audience for their analyses. (6) Weakened trust in the state and in European policymakers also instigates a turning away from experts on the part of voters.

Yet quantitative research on Muslims in Europe consistently demonstrates their support for democracy as it is practiced in their European state and their greater approval than non-Muslims of political, judicial and criminal justice institutions. (7) Where exceptions to this trend occur, as, for example, in the weaker support for police on the part of Muslims in France, the reasons are clear. Both the French high court and minority protection agencies have criticized the French police practice of routine identity checks of men of color (who are likely to be Muslims) in France. (8) Despite their unfair police scrutiny, Muslims in France are as likely as non-Muslims to trust the legal system, as data from the European Social Survey show. (9)

We can expect then that Muslims will make demands of the democratic agencies in Europe: that they will use electoral and legislative political processes to attain protections and that they will adapt the organization of Islam and its teaching to their circumstances in Europe. It may be that their guest worker or refugee family backgrounds have heightened the appreciation Muslims have for the democratic institutions of their European states, but their expectations of Europe grow with each generation born there. Previously, data from the European Social Survey in 2008 have shown that Muslims born in France or the Netherlands, for example, are at least 15 percent more likely to feel that they are members of a group that is discriminated than other Muslims living in these states but born abroad. (10) In this paper, we examine more recent data on Muslims' attitudes in Europe and consider state-level indicators of their political and policy environments relating to multiculturalism.

Country Selection and Data Sources

Using data from the European Social Survey up through 2014 we look below at evidence of Muslims' European identification in France, Austria and the Netherlands, including their trust in the political process in the current era of hate speech directed toward them. …

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