The Yearbook of Muslims in Europe will provide an up-to-date account of the situation of Muslims in Europe. Covering 37 countries of western, central and south-eastern Europe, the Yearbook will consist of three sections. The first section presents a country-by-country summary of essential data with basic statistics with evaluations of their reliability, surveys of legal status and arrangements, organizations, etc. providing an annually updated reference source. The second section will contain analysis and research articles on issues and themes of current relevance written by experts in the field. The final section will provide reviews of recently published books of significance.
The interest in resolving the social conflicts in which European Muslims are involved stretches back over the last 30 years. Muslims of Europe are more affected by unemployment and social exclusion than the rest of the population. Yet, it is not their social exclusion that raises the interest of European institutions and policymakers. Rather, the reason for their interest in the Muslim presence in Europe is linked to the fear of the radicalisation that could spring from the failure to integrate them. This obsession for securitising the political demands of Muslims has led policymakers by extension to consider these political claims as potentially destabilising and threatening elements to the European identity. A survey of the press as well as of policy documents produced on the relationship between Islam and social crisis since 2001 reveals that it is mainly when violence or political radicalisation is linked to Islam that institutional, national and local policymakers feel that the European identity is threatened.
It seems to be very clear that there is no single _face’ to Islam in any European country, but a mosaic of _faces’. That makes government policy work in terms of engagement very difficult, says H. A. Hellyer: Who speaks for European Muslims? It is a pressing question as far as policy makers in Europe are concerned. Even prior to 9/11, they were interested. After the 7/7 London bombings, finding an answer to the question has become imperative. Before the attacks of 9/11, I had decided to map out the Muslim communities in Europe; as an academic, I was interested in their organisation. What I found was that whereas the Christian churches in Europe all pretty much have single bodies representing them, Muslims do not. But does it really matter who represents Muslims? Many Christians, after all, would prefer that their churches did not represent them. The simple answer is that it does. When al Qaeda decided to attack the United States, supposedly in the name of Islam (but more accurately, in the name of their own frustrations and heretical ideology), European nations realised the necessity of engaging with their Muslim communities. It was deeply appreciated, as it meant that governments could send a positive message to mainstream society that Muslims were not all threats to western civilisation.
Gallup’s recent surveys of Muslims in London, Paris, and Berlin point to the need for greater understanding between Europe’s Muslim residents and the broader societies in which they live. But these surveys also offer plenty of evidence that the foundation for that understanding is already in place.
Sheikh Dr. Shaheed Satardien has been chosen to lead a group of powerful European Muslims in the fight against Islamic terrorism. The organization, called European Muslims Council for Justice, Peace, & Equality, elected the Irish Muslim in a unanimous decision during a conference in Rotterdam. Satardien expressed joy that Ireland had been chosen to lead a host of other countries in a fight against terrorism. He went on to say there are still a lot of radical extremists living in Ireland but I think I am keeping them on their toes… the Irish people should know that these extremists are in the minority.
In France and even neighboring Germany the Muslim population has a massive presence, but after 9/11 they face the problem of massive insecurity. In France the controversy of headscarves, the Mohammed Cartoons in Denmark and the mistake of profiling many from the community in Paris has only led to more heartburn and more cause for concern. Localised riots after the deaths of two boys in a North African Paris suburb grew into a nationwide insurrection. It was waiting to happen as vast Arab and African populations had been restive after constant police harassment. The invisible minorities of Europe were tired of being victimised. Le Pen Openly xenophobic leader Le Pen shocked most, when he won more votes in the last Presidential election than the main opposition party led by former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. A once tolerant France also banned religious symbols in schools and politicians in Germany and Belgium wanted similar laws. The rationale a necessity to secure the country from extremism and preserve its secular credentials. And that immediately invited the charge that it would only radicalize an already disillusioned and disenfranchised Muslim population. There are fears radical Islam of Osama’s kind is luring descendants of Muslim immigrants. Many say that’s because the governments here are unable to address issues like integration, especially at a time when anti-terror laws are becoming so stringent.
The institutionalization of Islam in the West continues to raise many questions for a range of different constituencies. Secularization represents much more than the legal separation of politics and religion in Europe; for important segments of European societies, it has become the cultural norm. Therefore, Muslims’ settlement and their claims for the public recognition of Islam have often been perceived as a threat.
This volume explores current interactions between Muslims and the more or less secularized public spaces of several European states, assessing the challenges such interactions imply for both Muslims and the societies in which they now live. Divided into three parts, it examines the impact of State-Church relations, ’Islamophobia’ and ’the war on terrorism’, evaluates the engagement of Muslim leaders with the State and civil society, and reflects on both individual and collective transformations of Muslim religiosity.
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
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
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
IV. Islam and European Urban Life
President: Tariq Ramadan University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Discussant: Jose Casanova New School University, USA