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The Islamic Challenge: Politics and Religion in Western Europe / Edition 1

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Overview


The voices in this book belong to parliamentarians, city councilors, doctors and engineers, a few professors, lawyers and social workers, owners of small businesses, translators, and community activists. They are also all Muslims, who have decided to become engaged in political and civic organizations. And for that reason, they constantly have to explain themselves, mostly in order to say who they are not. They are not fundamentalists, not terrorists, and most do not support the introduction of Islamic religious law in Europe--especially not its application to Christians. This book is about who these people are, and what they want.

This book is based on three hundred interviews with European Muslim leaders from six European countries: Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, and Germany. The question of Islam in Europe is not a matter of global war and peace but raises difficult questions about the positions of Christianity and Islam in public life, and about European identities. Europe's Muslim political leaders are not aiming to overthrow liberal democracy and to replace secular law with Islamic religious law. Those are the positions of a minority. There is not one Muslim position on how Islam should develop in Europe but many views, and most Muslims are rather looking for ways to build institutions that will allow European Muslims to practice their religion in a way that is compatible with social integration.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Refreshingly down to earth book...this valuable book may also force Europeans to question the self-image of their continent as an essentially secular place."--The Economist

"All in all, this is an extremely interesting book, not least because it tackles some of the most important issues currently facing European Muslims. If you want to know what European Muslims have to say about religion, politics, identity, social integration, multiculturalism and foreign policy, then I recommend you read this book."--The Muslim News, June 2006

"The Islamic Challenge: Politics and Religion in Western Europe is a timely contributions to the 'Muslims in the West' literature, which poses questions that have not been addressed before... Overall, The Islamic Challenge's cross-national study contributes important insights."--Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

"Klausen's survey presents a useful counterpoint to the now-hackneyed image of disaffected Muslim youth."--World Policy Journal

"[The Islamic Challenge] clearly sketches the main contours of the emerging institutions, debates and adaptations within the Muslim populations. It also skillfully explores the key Muslim demands and reactions to them...and indicated major cross-national differences...an important book."--Contemporary Islam

Foreign Affairs
Klausen, a Danish political scientist who teaches at Brandeis, interviewed 300 European Muslim leaders in Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom in order to discover what European Muslim elites think about the issues raised by the presence of so many Muslims in those countries and the policies pursued by European governments in order to integrate or assimilate them. The best way of dispelling myths and prejudices is to confront them with facts, and what makes this thoughtful and honest volume so useful is its refusal to simplify an extraordinarily complex picture. Few of the results support the notion of a "clash of civilizations"; extremism is not a clear and present danger. But moderation and widespread acceptance of liberal principles are only a first step toward accommodation. Of course, the problem of accommodation can be solved only if European states and societies show a willingness to make room for Islam and, if necessary, adapt their "state-church policies and public philosophies" accordingly. This is especially difficult when the latter are, as in France, resolutely anticommunitarian or when ethnic and religious prejudices make Muslim integration problematic and perpetuate discrimination. By destroying bogeymen, Klausen forces us to face rationally and compassionately sensitive and difficult issues of great importance to Europe's future.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199231980
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/6/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jytte Klausen is Professor of Politics at Brandeis University and Research Associate at The Center for European Studies, at Harvard University. She is the author of numerous books and articles on immigrant integration, Islam in Europe, the European welfare state and social inclusion.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : Islam in Europe 1
1 Europe's new Muslim political elite 15
2 How do Muslim leaders see the problems? 52
3 Belief and politics 81
4 From conflict to culture war 107
5 Christian and Muslim Europe 136
6 Sexual politics and multiculturalism 171
Conclusion : liberal Muslims and the emergence of European Islam 204
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