Conversions to Islam aren’t a new phenomena



Following the riots in Trappes and the death of a French Muslim jihadist in Syria, the question of Muslim converts who are commonly associated with religious radicalism in mainstream media has been brought back to the forefront of the French media landscape. The research director of the CNRS France and expert in Islam, Franck Frégosi, was interviewed in a recent issue of the French daily Liberation to discuss the history of Muslim conversions in the West.

In the interview Frégosi explains that there have been conversions to Islam in the West ever since Islam came to exist. The means of conversions differed and were as plural as the types of Islam that were adhered by its devotees. He critiques that the media today acts reductively by solely being interested in the conversion of people to a fringe fraction of Islam, namely the kind that interprets Islam literally from the readings of the Quran.

Examination into the importance of Muslim cemeteries in France

In this opinion piece, Atmane Aggoun, sociologist and CNRS researcher, points to the important issue of Muslim cemeteries in France, particularly as the immigrant Muslim population grows older. Fewer Muslims in France seek to be buried in their countries of origin. There are some spaces available at the Thiais cemetery (in Val-de-Marne) outside of Paris. Aggoun claims we might be witnesses a strong sense of integration as more immigrants choose to be buried in France, even if it happens underground.

CNRS Researcher Vincent Geisser Responds to Critics in Le Monde

Vincent Geisser, researcher at the CNRS accused of radicalizing Islam responds here to his critics, particularly Caroline Fourest’s explanation of the controversy around the “radical” nature of his research. Libération interviews Joseph Illand, in charge of internal security at the CNRS for his take on the controversy. Illand describes the ambiguity as to whether the contentious email was private or public.

The Case of Vincent Geisser, Scholar of Islam in the CNRS, divides the University Community

Written by Esther Benbassa, director of the EPHE (École Pratique des Hautes Études), this article claims that the case of French academic Vincent Geisser, currently under investigation for a “lack of obligatory reserve” is dividing the French university system. Detractors claim Geisser is an Islamicist, apologetic for the extremist positions he studies; his defenders point to the necessity of free speech in the academy.

French CNRS Researcher on Islam Comes Under Fire

French researcher Vincent Geisser, specialist of Muslims and the Muslim World in Aix-en-Provence at the CNRS (National Center of Scientific Research) will go before a disciplinary jury on June 29th for a recent controversy about an email he sent claiming research on Islam is persecuted by the national funding and research center.

Sociologist Smaïn Laacher claims that “Neither Whores Nor Submissives” is a Victim of its Own Success

In her new book Femmes invisibles, leurs mots contre la violence (Invisible Women, Their Words Against Violence, Calmann-Lévy 2008) sociologist Smaïn Laacher (CNRS – EHESS) claims that the community association Neither Whores Nor SUbmissives (Ni Putes Ni Soumises) has had problems representing Muslim girls in the suburbs of France because it was so popular amongst young women in its beginnings and the expectations were too high. The organization never had the infrastructure to be able to properly respond to the demand. In addition, its press releases and communication were direct and addressed major issues like secularism, Islam, immigration and the Israeli-Palestian conflict. According to Laacher, the media therefore exaggerated the importance and power of the organization, so that many of its members were disappointed by its actual power.

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European Muslims and the Secular State in a Comparative Perspective

Sorbonne: Salle Louis Liard 17 rue de la Sorbonne, 75005 Paris

European Muslims and the Secular State in a Comparative Perspective

NOCRIME CONFERENCE – Organized with the Sponsorship of the European Commission (DG Research)

MONDAY, JUNE 30, 2003

I. Modes of Interaction in Non-Muslim Societies

President Patrick Michel CNRS/CERI, EHESS, France

Discussant: Tuula Sakaranaho University of Helsinki, Finland

  • Jonas Otterbeck Silence and Speech in the Muslim Groups in Sweden Malmö University, Sweden
  • Lars Dencik Jewish Life in Sweden Roskilde University, Denmark
  • Philip Lewis Beyond Victimhood – from the Global to the Local: a British Case Study Bradford University, UK
  • II. Muslim Leadership and Institutional Constraints in Europe

    President Jean-Paul Willaime EPHE, Director of GSRL (CNRS-EPHE), France

    Discussant: Martin Van Bruinessen ISIM, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

  • Séan McLoughlin Islam, Citizenship and Civil Society: New Muslim Leaderships in the UK Leeds University, UK
  • Valérie Amiraux Building Religious Authorities among Muslims in Europe: Some Case Studies from Germany and France CURAPP-CNRS, France
  • Nico Landman New Policies on Foreign Imams in the Netherlands Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • TUESDAY, JULY 1, 2003

    III. Religious Authorities in the Global Era: Ethnicity and Diasporas

    President Sami Zemni University of Ghent, Belgium

    Discussant: Jonathan Friedman EHESS, France

  • Jocelyne Cesari Muslim Leadership in Europe: What Connections with the Umma? GSRL-CNRS, Harvard University, NOCRIME coordinator, France/USA
  • Sébastien Fath Transnational Dimension of Evangelical Movements CNRS/GSRL, France
  • Yngve Lithman, Transnational Radicalism and Muslim Diasporas University of Bergen, Norway
  • Garbi Schmidt Formation of Transnational Identities among Young Muslims in Denmark Danish National Institute of Social Research, Denmark
  • IV. Islam and European Urban Life

    President: Tariq Ramadan University of Fribourg, Switzerland

    Discussant: Jose Casanova New School University, USA

  • Chantal Saint-Blancat/Ottavia Schmidt di Friedberg Visibility of Muslims in Italy and Communication Issues University of Padova, University of Trieste, Italy
  • Gema Martin-Munoz Mapping the Muslim Leadership in Spanish Urban Centers (Madrid and Barcelona) Autonoma University of Madrid, Spain
  • Dilwar Hussain Muslims in British Cities: Are they Different from Other Migrants? The Islamic Foundation, UK
  • Integration of Muslim Migrants in Europe: Religious and Political Aspects in the aftermath of September 11, 2001

    A Roundtable By The Network On Comparative Research On Islam and Muslims In Europe (NOCRIME) Organized with the Censorship of the European Commission (DG Research)

    Session 1: Legal, Social and Cultural Aspects of Integration of Islam in Different European Countries and in the European Union

    Opening Remarks and Introduction

  • Jean-Paul Willaime EPHE, Director of GSRL (CNRS-EPHE)
  • Key Notes Speakers

  • Legal Aspects of Islamic Integration in Europe Anthony Bradney Leicester University
  • Islam in European Social, Religious and Multicultural Policies Jocelyne Cesari GSRL-CNRS, Harvard University, NOCRIME coordinator
  • Chair Jean-Paul Willaime EPHE, Director of GSRL (CNRS-EPHE)

  • Debate with NOCRIME members And Muslim Representatives Research Group on French Islam, GSRL-CNRS, (Omero Marongiu, Sakina Bargach) 1) Key Point: What Is Integration? 2) Key Point: Symbolic and Legal Gap between Muslims and European Political Spheres 3) Key Point: Transnational Links and Relationship with the Countries of Origin
  • Chantal Saint Blancat University of Padova
  • Ottavia Schmidt di Friedberg University of Trieste
  • Gerdien Jonker Marburg University
  • Séan McLoughlin Leeds University
  • Dilwar Hussain The Islamic Foundation, U.K.
  • Hakim Elghissassi Magazine La Medina, France
  • Lidya Nofal AL-INSANN, Germany
  • Rijai Tatari UCIDE, Spain
  • Ahmed Jaballah Institut Européen des Sciences Humaines, France
  • Session 2: The Political Dimension of Inclusion of Islam The Question of Islam in European Governance

    Key Note Speakers

  • Consequences of September 11th on Immigration and Foreign Policies in Europe
  • Didier Bigo Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris
  • Elspeth Guild University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  • Responses of the EU to September 11th
  • Tung-Lai Margue European Commission, DG Justice and Home Affairs
  • Angela Liberatore European Commission, DG Research
  • Chair

  • Aristotelis Gavriliadis European Commission, DG Justice and Home Affairs
  • Debate with NOCRIME members And Muslim Representatives Key Point: Racism and Xenophobia against Muslims and the Role of the European Institutions

  • Jocelyne Cesari GSRL-CNRS, Harvard University, NOCRIME coordinator
  • Valérie Amiraux CURAPP-CNRS
  • Nico Landman Utrecht University
  • Jonas Otterbek Malmö University
  • Gema Martín-Muñoz University Autonoma of Madrid
  • And Muslim Representatives

  • Dilwar Hussain The Islamic Foundation, U.K.
  • Hakim Elghissassi Magazine La Medina, France
  • Lidya Nofal AL-INSANN, Germany
  • Rijai Tatari UCIDE, Spain
  • Debate with NOCRIME members And Muslim Representatives Key Point: The Muslim Voice in the Political and Legal Debate After 9/11

    Concluding Remarks

    Jocelyne Cesari GSRL-CNRS, Harvard University, NOCRIME coordinator

    Sorbonne: Salle des Commissions du Rectorat 46, rue St-Jacques – 75005 Paris

    Islam in European Cities

    Session 1: Islam, Factor of Urban Integration?

  • Opening Remarks and Introduction by Jean-Paul Willaime, EPHE, Director of GSRL (CNRS-EPHE).
  • Sean McLoughlin, University of Leeds, “Islam as a Resource for Urban Integration in Mannigham, a District of Bradford.
  • Nico Landman, Utrecht University, “Islamic Centre or Playground: a Contested Mosque Project in the Dutch Town of Deventer”
  • Jocelyne Cesari, CNRS-GSRL, “Islam in Marseille / Islam in Toulouse: Two Different Forms of Islamic Leadership in the Public Space”
  • Session 2: Immigration, ethnicity and Islam in urban policies in Europe

  • Ottavia Schmidt di Frieberg, University of Trieste, and Chantal Saint-Blancat, University of Padova, “Why and How Islam is not always at Stake in Urban Space: the Difference between Turin and Milan”
  • Valérie Amiraux, CURAPP-CNRS, “Islam and Citizenship in Amiens and Belfort”