Munich will get a new mosque center

Recently, the Turkish community of one Munich district had to bury their plans for a new mosque. The conservative party CSU had blocked the construction for reasons of “wrong place, wrong architecture” and the lack of involvement of local neighbors. Furthermore, the initiative was proposed by an organization which has close ties to the Turkish government.

But now it is the turn of a different initiative. The imam of Penzberg, a small town near Munich, Benjamin Idriz, proposed his plans of a “Centre for Islam in Europe – Munich.” Born in Macedonia, Idriz has long worked for this project which will involve a mosque and community services such as a kindergarten, a space for senior citizens, a library and an Islamic museum. The center strives to convey a liberal, European Islam.

For the first time, there is now a political consensus in the city council. All parties, including the CSU, have expressed their support for the new mosque project. The administration will therefore search for suitable premises at a central location.

Rediscovery of the first truly European Muslim Muhammad Asad

Murad Hofmann, a German Muslim scholar and former ambassador, fosters the rediscovery of Muhammad Asad, one of the first European Muslim thinkers. Muhammad Asad, born 1900 in Austria as Jewish Leopold Weiss, converted to Islam during his trips to the Arabian Peninsula as a journalist. He soon distanced himself from traditional Islam and sought to reconcile it with human rights and democracy.

Asad provided a new translation of the Qur’an into English, a very modern one (too modern for some), with some notions deliberately left ambiguous, fluctuating and West-compatible. He also demanded of Muslims to question the interpretations of established scholars and rejected the punishment of stoning and beating women. Murad Hofmann has now republished Asad’s Qur’an interpretation in German. He claims that Asad’s reformist Islam is essential for European Islam today and hopes that more people will be open to this view that during Asad’s lifetime.

Muslims of Europe: The ‘Other’ Europeans

The interchange between Muslims and Europe has a long and complicated history, dating back to before the idea of ‘Europe’ was born, and the earliest years of Islam. There has been a Muslim presence on the European continent before, but never has it been so significant, particularly in Western Europe. With more Muslims in Europe than in many countries of the Muslim world, they have found themselves in the position of challenging what it means to be a European in a secular society of the 21st century. At the same time, the European context has caused many Muslims to re-think what is essential to them in religious terms in their new reality.

In this work, H.A. Hellyer analyses the prospects for a European future where pluralism is accepted within unified societies, and the presence of a Muslim community that is of Europe, not simply in it. He draws upon his
academic expertise in a variety of disciplines, including sociology, politics and religious studies, in order to give the reader a thorough theoretical backdrop. Uniquely, he combines this knowledge with his background as an independent scholar engaged in policy networks and institutions. The result is a work that has drawn critical acclaim from some of the most noted scholars in the West on a very important topic.

Biography of H.A. Hellyer
H.A. Hellyer is Fellow at the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations at the University of Warwick (UK) and Director of the West Muslim world relations research consultancy, the Visionary Consultants Group (UK, Egypt & Malaysia). A United Nations ŒGlobal Expert¹ on minority-majority relations, political philosophy, and the interplay between religion and modernity, Dr. Hellyer was Ford Fellow of the Project on US Islamic World Relations at
the Brookings Institution.

As Senior Research Fellow at Warwick University, he was ESRC Placement Fellow at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office from October 2007 to April 2008, offering independent advice on Muslim European communities. In the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings, Dr Hellyer was nominated as Deputy Convenor of the UK Government¹s Home Office working group on Muslim communities, to provide independent counsel and critique.

A prolific commentator in Western media and media in the Muslim world, he is currently completing work on his next book entitled ³Muslims on the Margins: Muslim Minorities in Southeast Asia, Africa and the West².

Please visit www.hahellyer.com for further information about the book and the author.

New magazine Cités launched seeking a European Islam

The new director of the magazine Cit_s, Yves Charles Zarka, explains how his new publication focuses on the emergence of a new Islam in Europe. For instance, in his examination of Sarajevo, Zarka questioned whether Islam has changed in Bosnia-Herzegovina since the fall of Communism. The authors in the most recent edition question the role of the community in shaping the religious beliefs on the individual. See the Presses Universitaires de France (188 pages, 15 Euros).

European Islam: Challenges for Society and Public Policy

Works on Islam in Europe often read like a juxtaposition of national case studies covering the history and perhaps the sociology of immigrant groups in the countries considered. Although the sociology of Islam is well-developed in certain European countries such as France, Germany and the UK, it is only in its infancy as a discipline at the European level. The chapters in this work, by leading European experts in the field, therefore aim to supply policy-makers, analysts and civil society leaders with an inventory of the main issues concerning the presence of Islam in Europe. The key message is that European Islam exists as a powerful transnational phenomenon, and European policy must keep pace with this reality.

Contributors include Samir Amghar, Amel Boubekeur, Michael Emerson, Chris Allen, Valerie Amiraux, Tufyal Choudhury, Bernard Godard, Imane Karich, Isabelle Rigoni, Olivier Roy and Sara Silvestri.

Integrating Islam: Political and Religious Challenges in Contemporary France

Many in France view the growing role of Muslims in their society with a jaundiced eye, as do others elsewhere, suspecting that new Muslim political and religious networks are a threat to European rule of law and the French way of life. Not surprisingly, however, the reality of the situation is far too complicated to be captured by slogans and slurs. Integrating Islam examines the complex reality of Muslim integration in France-its successes, failures, and future challenges.

Laurence and Vaisse paint a comprehensive and nuanced portrait of the French Muslim experience, from intermarriage rates to socioeconomic benchmarks. They pay special attention to public policies enacted by recent French governments to encourage integration and discourage extremism-for example the controversial 2004 banning of headscarves in public schools and the establishment of the new French Council of the Muslim Religion. Despite the serious problems that exist, the authors foresee the emergence of a religion and a population that feel at home in, and at peace with, French society – a “French Islam” to replace “Islam in France.”

Why Europe Has to Offer a Better Deal Towards its Muslim Communities

Our rigorous quantitative results, based on the first systematic use of the Muslim community data contained in the “European Social Survey” (ESS), compatible with much of the rest of current European political economic thinking regarding the future alternatives for the European Union, and contradict the very extended current alarmist political discourse in Western Europe. Those give strong support to the hypothesis that passive support for Islamist radicalism in Europe and the complete distrust in democracy does not exceed 400.000 persons. We also compare our research results with the recent PEW data. By and large, the two datasets yield the same results. We also find that Muslim economic and social alienation in Europe very much corresponds to deficiencies of the implementation of the “Lisbon” process. We also present a rigorous re-analysis of United States Department of State data on acts of global terrorism in the framework of Kondratiev cycle waves. Further dispelling irrational immigration-phobias and Islamophobia in general, the present work also shows that, by and large, pretty much the same functions of key (positive or negative) UNDP development indicators (y-axis) hold in comparison with purchasing power per capita (x-axis) in the Muslim world and the non-Muslim countries.

Click here to download the ebook.