- Multiculturalism, Muslims, and Citizenship: A European Approach
This book analyzes topics pertaining to the relationships between Muslim immigrants and multiculturalism in Europe, focusing largely on Muslim communities in Belgium, Great Britain, France, Denmark, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The contributing authors argue that discourse on political theory concerning multiculturalism and resulting policies assumes an interpretation of liberalism that relates more readily to Muslims in North America and the sociohistorical contexts in that region than it does to Muslims in Europe and the sociohistorical contexts there. The editors maintain that much of the theoretical debate until the writing of their book understated the hegemonic influence of majority and state nationality and overlooked the various social and political circumstances that may have influenced multicultural debates in Europe. According to the editors, the most serious weakness in the scholarly literature on Muslims and multiculturalism in Europe is that it ignores what they believe to be the central feature of the multicultural challenge in contemporary western Europe: the assertion of "religious-communal," especially Muslim, identities in countries whose governments and majority populations perceive themselves as largely secular. The book argues that a European theory of multiculturalism must center on different religious, social, and political challenges than the ones faced in North America, while investigating assertions that favor and oppose secularism.
The first chapter, which was written by the editors, elucidates and develops the above ideas, while providing summaries of the book's chapters. The second chapter by Hassan Bousetta and Dirk Jacobs analyzes the concept of multiculturalism in Belgium. Bousetta and Jacobs state that when Belgians began discussions of ethnic diversity in that country, they initially conceived of diversity as an issue that was limited to handling the consequences of recruitment of a temporary foreign labor force on an ad hoc basis. Given the fact that many Muslims living in Belgium have made that country their permanent home and given the understandable desire of those Muslims to influence matters pertaining to the public sphere, non-Muslim Belgians can no longer relegate Muslims' demands to the private sphere. Bousetta and Jacobs maintain that, in spite of the broadening of Muslims' aspirations into the public sphere, members of Belgium's political structure are still handling the concerns of Muslims in that country in an ad hoc manner. The writers focus on the desire of some Muslim women to veil and/or wear headscarves in public as one example of the manner in which Belgian society handled a debate related to Islam and the public sphere.
In Tariq Modood's chapter on Muslims in Britain, Modood examines the challenges that Muslims pose to that largely secular society and state. Modood argues that the relation between Muslims and the wider British society and state has to be understood in terms of the development of ideas pertaining to racial equality and multiculturalism. Modood states that Muslims have become central to the agendas that relate to the principles of racial equality and multiculturalism, while they have contested important aspects of multiculturalism, especially preexisting definitions of racial identities, narrow definitions of racism and equality, and the secular bias of the discourse. Modood contends that political secularism can no longer be taken for granted but must now respond to its critics since there is a growing understanding that the incorporation of Muslims into European societies has become one of the most important challenges facing contemporary Britain and continental Europe.
The next chapter, by Riva Kastoryano, focuses on French secularism and Muslims in France. Kastoryano believes that secularism, which has been a significant foundation of French society and which the vast majority of French citizens have believed engenders one reasonable approach to diversity, has been contested for roughly twenty years by Muslims living in France. This chapter focuses on the arguments, policies, and mobilizations that have taken place in France in response to the expressed desire of Muslim women in that country to wear headscarves or veils. The debates surrounding this issue are related to principles such as tolerance, individual liberty, religious...