French thinkers Kouchner, Williame and Benbassa weigh in on Swiss minaret ban

Bernard Kouchner claims to be scandalized by the Swiss vote on minarets, calling it an “expression of intolerance.” Marine Le Pen, the vice-president of the extreme right congratulated the Swiss populace for the vote.

Jean-Paul Willaime, director of the European Institute of Religious Sciences, claims that the Swiss response is more of a secularist response to religion in the public sphere than one counter to Islam. However, he warns that it is the state and public institutions which are secular, however, not civil society. Islam, says Willaime, has become the litmus for European interrogations on identity, particularly because the vestiges of religious heritage and concern for religion still remain despite widespread secularism. Esther Benbassa, director of the Ecole pratique des hautes études (EPHE) suggests that in the era of globalization, fear creates a desire to create oneself against an Other, who today, are Muslims.

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.

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”
  • The Social building of Muslim Communities in Europe

    A Roundtable By The Network On Comparative Research On Islam And Muslims In Europe (NOCRIME)

    Session 1: The Social Building of Muslim Communities in Europe: Internal Factors

    Opening remarks and Introduction by Jean Baubérot, President of EPHE (Sorbonne) and Director of GSRL (CNRS-EPHE) and Jean-Paul Willaime, EPHE, Associate Director of GSRL (CNRS-EPHE).

    CHAIR : Dr Martin Van Bruinessen, Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World [ISIM] Leiden.

  • Jorgen Baek Simonsen, Copenhague University , “Social Networks of Muslims in Denmark and Interactions with the Muslim World”
  • Nico Landman, Utrecht University, “Social and Religious variety of the Muslim Presence in the Netherlands”
  • Sean McLoughlin, Leeds University, “British-Muslims Today: National Recognition, Local Polarisation?”
  • Gema Martin-Munoz, University Autonoma of Madrid, “Cultural and Religious Dimensions of the Moroccan Immigration in Spain”
  • Ottavia Schmidt di Frieberg, University of Trieste, “Transnational Networks of Muslim Migrants in Italy”
  • Discussion led by Pierre-Jean Luizard, GSRL (CNRS-EPHE) and Hocine Benkheira, GSRL (CNRS-EPHE)

    Session 2: The Building of Muslim Communities in Europe: External Constraints

    CHAIR: Jean-Paul Willaime, EPHE, Associate Director of GSRL (CNRS-EPHE)

  • Jocelyne Cesari, GSRL (CNRS-EPHE) and Harvard University, “New forms of Muslim Leadership in France”
  • Chantal Saint-Blancat, University of Padova, “Social Construction of Islam in the Italian Public Sphere”
  • Valerie Amiraux, CURAPP/CNRS and European University Institute, “The Production of Discourses on Islam in Western Europe”
  • DISCUSSION of the Session and General Discussion led by Tariq Ramadan, University of Fribourg and Olivier Roy, CNRS.

    CONCLUDING REMARKS