February 28, 2014
A German-Canadian study dealing with “antisemitic and anti-muslim attitudes and prejudices by students” was presented last week in the Jewish Museum of Berlin. One of the scholars conducting the study, the educational scientist Wassilis Kassis, explained the goals of the collaborative study, which took place between the University of Osnabrück and the University of Victoria in British Columbia (Canada).
As the „dark side of University”, the study describes a high percentage of anti-Muslim and antisemitic attitudes and prejudices among students of both Universities. Only a few number of students have distanced themselves to discriminating statements towards Muslims and Jews. In Osnabrück, only 18% out of 1.000 students rejected statements such as “German women should not marry Muslims” or “Muslims provoke hostility against Islam through their behavior”. In summary, approximately 80% of respondents showed anti-Muslim prejudices at different degrees.
Approximately 40% of students of both Universities show antisemitic attitudes in “partly” or “fully” agreeing with statements such as “less Jews should be allowed to immigrate”. The study assumes antisemitism to be the entrance for expansion of hostile stereotypes against further minorities.
Wassilis Kassis is concerned about the reactions of the public by emails. Most writers have openly demonstrated their resentments or hatred against Islam and Muslims. So far, most assumptions rely on the thesis of education and social background as resistant factors towards antisemitic or anti-Muslim prejudices. Prof. Dr. Zick, Social- psychologist and leader of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Conflict and Violence Studies at the University of Bielefeld, urges to educate children at school to learn how to deal with conflicts without questioning the “other” identity.
The study is not yet published.
Conspicuously, Islam has become a key issue in most European societies with respect to issues of immigration, integration, identity, values and inland security. As the mere presence of Muslim minorities fails to explain these debates convincingly, new questions need to be asked: how did Islam become a topic? Who takes part in the debates? How do these debates influence both individual as well as collective self-images and image of others? Introducing Switzerland as an under-researched object of study to the academic discourse on Islam in Europe, this volume offers a fresh perspective on the objective by putting recent case studies from diverse national contexts into comparative perspective.
Link to the book’s website and publisher: http://www.transcript-verlag.de/ts2249/ts2249.php
While Islam has been firmly placed on the global agenda since 9/11, and
continues to occupy a prominent place in media discourse, attention has
recently begun to shift towards European Muslims, or “as some would
prefer to say” Muslims in Europe. Apart from the usual concerns, mostly
articulated in the media, on the radicalization of Muslim youth, their
failure to integrate into mainstream society and so forth, a vast body
of academic literature on Islam and Muslims in Europe has sprung up
since the late 1990s. This discourse and body of literature on Muslims
in Europe, however, are confined to the west of the continent, viz. the
old EU. This gives the impression that Europe stops at the banks of the
Oder. Central and Eastern Europe – both new EU members and other
countries – has been placed outside the realm of discourse, i.e. outside
Europe. This book aims to fill this gap by describing Muslim communities
and their experiences in Central and Eastern Europe, both in countries
with marginal Muslim populations, often not exceeding 1% (e.g. Hungary
and Lithuania), and in countries with significant Muslim minorities,
sometimes proportionally even larger than in France (e.g. Bulgaria).
Some of these countries have a long history of Muslim presence, dating
back to the 14th century in the case of the Tatars (e.g. Poland and
Ukraine) and the 16th century in the case of the first Muslim arrivals
in the Balkans (e.g. Romania, Slovenia) during the Ottoman era. In other
countries (e.g. Slovakia), Muslims have arrived only recently. What all
these countries have in common is a Communist past inside the former
Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
Area of Expertise:
– Muslim interest groups
– Political representation of Muslim minorities
– Muslim civil societies in Scandinavia, Germany and the US
CV available here
Iben Helqvist holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Roskilde University, Denmark. She has pursued her interest in Muslim minorities in Europe and the US by studying German integration politics at Freie Universität in Berlin, as well as ‘Contemporary Islam’ at American University in Washington DC. In DC she also did an internship with Muslim Public Affairs Council and gained valuable insight into national American politics relating to the Muslim-American community.
In her master’s thesis Iben studied Muslim interest groups in Denmark. She analyzed how these groups interact with politicians and the public administration and why it is difficult for Muslim interest groups to establish themselves as credible and reliable partners of the public administration in Denmark.
This book is the first systematic attempt to study the situation of European and American Muslims after 9/11, and to present a comprehensive analysis of their religious, political, and legal situations.
Since 9/11, and particularly since the Madrid and London bombings of 2004 and 2005, the Muslim presence in Europe and the United States has become a major political concern. Many have raised questions regarding potential links between Western Muslims, radical Islam, and terrorism. Whatever the justification of such concerns, it is insufficient to address the subject of Muslims in the West from an exclusively counter-terrorist perspective. Based on empirical studies of Muslims in the US and Western Europe, this edited volume posits the situation of Muslim minorities in a broader reflection on the status of liberalism in Western foreign policies. It also explores the changes in immigration policies, multiculturalism and secularism that have been shaped by the new international context of the ‘war on terror’.
Islam may be most closely associated with the Middle East, where it emerged in Arabia in the seventh century, but today the region is home to only one in five of the world’s Muslims, according to a study of the religion’s global distribution conducted by the Pew Forum.
Europe is home to about 38 million Muslims, or about five per cent of its population. Germany appears to have more than 4 million Muslims – almost as many as North and South America combined. In France, where tensions have run high over an influx of Muslim immigrant labourers, the overall numbers were lower but a larger percentage of the population is Muslim. Of roughly 4.6 million Muslims in the Americas, more than half live in the United States although they only make up 0.8 percent of the population there. About 700,000 people in Canada are Muslim, or about two percent of the total population.
The top five Muslim countries in the world include only one in the Middle East Egypt behind Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, in that order. Russia, the survey shows, has more Muslims than the populations of Libya and Jordan combined. Germany has more Muslims than Lebanon. China has a bigger Muslim population than Syria.
Through the process of globalisation, in which increased migration and advanced possibilities of communication are major factors, the socio-cultural and religious landscape has undergone major modifications worldwide. Religion and religious movements in general have come to the fore, but also religious minorities have gained importance in influencing cultural, social, juridical, political and economic issues of the societies in which they are imbedded. Through the processes related to globalization, people are informed of and connected with events happening all over the world and feel affected and influenced by them. Religious minorities – be they recent or century old communities – are no longer encapsulated within their local communities, but connected through global mechanisms that form the contemporary religious landscape. From a religious historical perspective, the relation between Europe and the Middle East has been for more than a thousand years important, yet tumultuous. In both regions, Europe and the Middle East, religious minorities found their place and often stayed connected through historical and/or religious ties to the other region. Several large Christian communities remained in the Middle East after the islamization of the region. Recent migration flows from Mediterranean countries brought Islam back into Europe.
Muslim communities with diverging regional and ideological backgrounds are becoming more and more part of the European landscape. The influence of globalisation gives way to a shift in position of minorities in their relationship to the majority culture, in which religion is played out as a key element. We also witness a reinterpretation of the minority issue in itself and a repositioning of minority communities within the dominant strand of society. The interaction between global and local contexts incite new dynamics in the minority issue and demands for a renewed academic analysis.
In Pittburgh, a Turkish group, pious but peaceful, decides to rethink its plans for an Islamic centre after an angry public hearing. In Clitheroe, a town in northern England, a plan to turn an ex-church into a mosque wins planning approval after seven failed bids. In Austria a far-rightist, J_rg Haider, grabs headlines by proposing that no mosques or minarets should be built in the province of Carinthia, where he is governor. In Memphis, Tennessee, Muslims manage to build a large cemetery despite local objections to their burial customs. On the face of it, there is something similar about all these vignettes of inter-faith politics in the Western world. They all illustrate the strong emotions, and opportunistic electoral games, that are surfacing in many countries as Muslim minorities, increasingly prosperous and confident, aspire to build more mosques and other communal buildings.
Islamic countries pushed through a resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday urging a global prohibition on the public defamation of religion – a response largely to the furor last year over caricatures published in a Danish newspaper of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. The statement proposed by the Organization of Islamic Conference addressed what it called a “campaign” against Muslim minorities and the Islamic religion around the world since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The resolution, which was opposed by a number of other non-Muslim countries, “expresses deep concern at attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human rights violations.” It makes no mention of any other religion besides Islam, but urges countries “to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement and religious hatred, hostility, or violence.” The resolution was adopted by a 24-14 vote with nine abstentions. Canada, Japan and South Korea joined European countries in opposition, primarily citing its excessive focus on Islam and incompatibility with fundamental rights such as the freedoms of speech and thought. “The problem of religious intolerance is worldwide and not limited to certain religions,” said Brigitta Maria Siefker-Eberle of Germany, speaking on behalf of the 27-nation European Union. There are 17 Muslim countries in the 47-nation human rights council. Their alliance with China, Cuba, Russia and most of the African members means they can almost always achieve a majority. Human Rights Watch said the resolution could endanger the basic rights of individuals. The council, which last year replaced the discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission, has no power beyond drawing international attention to rights issues and scrutiny of abuses in certain countries. The move at the council was initiated last year after protests across the Islamic world drew attention to caricatures of Muhammad first printed in Danish paper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005.
Jocelyne Cesari, is an Associate at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Center for European Studies and teaches at the Harvard Divinity School and Government Department. Dr. Cesari is a French political scientist, tenured at the French National Center for Scientific Research in Paris and specializing in contemporary Islamic societies. Before coming to Harvard, she served as an Associate Research Scholar and Visiting Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. At Harvard, she is Director of the interfaculty Islam in the West Program (see http://cmes.hmdc.harvard.edu/research/iw). This research program produced a major publication, the Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States, which was published by Greenwood Press in September of 2007. She also coordinates the new web-based initiative on contemporary Islamic thinking called islamopediaonline (www.islamopediaonline.org).
Her areas of expertise include Islam and globalization, Muslim minorities in Europe and America, and Islam and politics in North Africa. Over the course of her career, Dr. Cesari has published fifteen books and more than fifty articles in European and American journals. Her most recent books and articles are :Muslims in the West After 9/11: Religion, Politics and Law (2009, Routledge), “Islam in the West from Immigration to Global Islam”, Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review, (8) 2009, pp.147-275, When Islam and Democracy Meet: Muslims in Europe and in the United States (Palgrave 2006) and European Muslims and the Secular State (Ashgate 2005).She has also received grants to write the reports “Islam and Fundamental Rights” and “The Religious Consequences of September 11, 2001, on Muslims in Europe” for the European Commission (see www.euro-islam.info).