Islamic Studies Islam in Europe
by
Ahmet Yukleyen
  • LAST REVIEWED: 10 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0022

Introduction

Since the 1950s, Muslim minorities have emerged in Europe as a result of decolonization, labor migration, and conflict and civil strife in their home countries. Many came seeking asylum from conflict, while others were simply pursuing a higher standard of living. In the 1970s, the establishment of communal life through family unification brought the institutionalization of cultural and religious practices, such as the establishment of mosques. Islam has become public in Europe, as an estimated 15 million immigrants originating from Muslim-majority countries have settled in European nations over this time period. There has been a shifting discourse in identifying these groups, first as migrant laborers, then ethnic minorities and finally as a religious community. Thus, the welcoming of migrant laborers in postwar Europe shifted to identifying separate Turkish, Moroccan, Algerian, or Pakistani ethno-national groups. Researchers, in turn, have shifted their focus from socioeconomic conditions and ethno-national culture to religion. Currently, groups and individuals with backgrounds in Muslim-majority countries are identified as Muslims, as if they were part of a unified religious community.

General Overviews

Islam has adapted to different times and places, which has resulted in diverse forms of religiosity. The adaptation of Muslim religiosity in Europe has been addressed by various scholars as a shift from “Islam in Europe” to “European Islam.” Many have addressed the reinterpretation of Islam in accordance with the changing concerns and needs of young Muslims; the transformation of religious authority; and the secular, liberal democracy of European states. There is a general agreement that Islam is becoming “European,” but the content and process of this Europeanization are highly contested. On the one hand, Tibi 2002 proposes the emergence of a monolithic and privatized “Euro-Islam.” On the other hand, some scholars have developed a theoretical approach to explain the development of Islam in Europe as a continuation of an internally reformist trend within Islam developed in the late 19th century (e.g., Amir-Moazami and Salvatore 2003). The majority of studies fall between the normative and postmodern approaches. Tezcan 2003, like many others, argues for a Europeanization of Islam through the individualization of religious authority among Muslims. Cesari 2004 underlines the declining role of traditional sources of authority such as mosques and imams, and the rise of “new Islamic leaders” such as Tariq Ramadan (Ramadan 1999) and the Internet, which allows for the individualization of religious authority. Some believe that this process of individualization could eventually lead to a liberalization of Islam (see Mandaville 2001). Based on a survey of emerging Muslim political leaders in six European countries, Klausen 2005 suggests an internalization of liberal democracy. Roy 2004, meanwhile, emphasizes the fragmentation and democratization of religious authority, but without a significant change in doctrine. Despite their differences, scholars agree that “European Islam” is not monolithic but refers to the diverse religious experiences of Muslims who are no longer only in Europe but also of Europe.

  • Amir-Moazami, Shirin, and Armando Salvatore. “Gender, Generation, and the Reform of Tradition: From Muslim Majority Societies to Western Europe.” In Muslim Networks and Transnational Communities in and across Europe. Edited by Stefano Allievi and Jorgen Nielsen, 52–77. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2003.

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    These authors use Talal Asad’s suggestion to approach Islam as a “discursive tradition.” This allows them to focus on the internal dynamics of Islam that allow it to be adaptive.

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  • Cesari, Jocelyne. When Islam and Democracy Meet: Muslims in Europe and the United States. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

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    Focuses on how Muslims in Europe and the United States secularize through the emergence of new religious authorities and individualization. Includes a useful appendix containing a list of Islamic organizations and demographic information on Muslims in Europe and the United States.

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  • Klausen, Jytte. The Islamic Challenge: Politics and Religion in Western Europe. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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    This book is based on empirical data of surveys and interviews with young Muslim leaders in six Western European countries.

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  • Mandaville, Peter G. Transnational Muslim Politics: Reimagining the Umma. London: Routledge, 2001.

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    Combines international relations theory with anthropological insights in an effort to understand how Muslim networks have become global.

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  • Nielsen, Jorgen. Muslims in Western Europe. 3d ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004.

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    A good introduction to European Islam by a leading scholar. First published in 1992.

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  • Ramadan, Tariq. To Be a European Muslim. Leicester, UK: Islamic Foundation, 1999.

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    Ramadan reinterprets textual sources to justify active citizenship for Muslims to become European in the name of Islam. He provides an answer for young Muslims who are committed to their religion and loyal to their countries of residence.

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  • Roy, Olivier. Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

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    Roy focuses on how the experience of Muslims outside Muslim-majority countries is shaping their religiosity and the trend toward a puritanical global Islam. He also addresses the European context in which Jihadists recruit followers.

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  • Tezcan, Levent. “Das Islamische in den Studien zu Muslimen in Deutschland.” Berliner Journal fur Soziologie 32, no. 3 (2003): 237–261.

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    Provides a critical overview of the studies on Muslims and Islam in Germany.

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  • Tibi, Bassam. “Muslim Migrants in Europe: Between Euro-Islam and Ghettoization.” In Muslim Europe or Euro-Islam? Politics, Culture, and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization. Edited by Nezar AlSayyad and Manuel Castells, 31–52. Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2002.

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    Argues that, for Muslim integration in Europe, Islam should be limited to the private sphere.

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Bibliographies

Shadid and van Koningsveld 1995 combine their expertise in anthropology and Islamic studies to provide one of the earliest bibliographies on the topic. The multidisciplinary scholars researching on Muslims in Europe have created various online networks such as Euro-Islam to share their most recent findings. Peter 2006 surveys this growing literature by evaluating the emerging trends and theoretical approaches.

Journals

Journals on Muslims in Europe have two major orientations: migration and religious studies. The leading journals that specialize on the subject, such as Contemporary Islam, the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, and the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, often have interdisciplinary approaches. Some journals, such as Comparative Islamic Studies, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, and The Muslim World, have a religious studies perspective, whereas others, such as International Migration, International Migration Review, and Immigrants and Minorities, tend to focus on sociology, history, and migration studies. However, nearly all of these journals aim to combine the textual basis of Islam and the lived experience of Muslims, which is necessary to understand the unfolding of Islam and Muslim lives in the changing European context.

European Muslim Identity Politics

There are many aspects of the European context that influence the development of Islam in Europe. Scholars have examined various aspects of this subject using comparative methods (Kepel 1997, Pauly 2004), and some of this work is available in edited volumes (Maréchal, et al. 2003; Potz and Wieshaider 2004; van Bruinessen and Allievi 2009). Some studies provide general descriptive information on demography, ethnicity, Islamic organizations, and discrimination against Muslims (Hunter 2002, EUMC 2006).

  • European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC). Muslims in the European Union: Discrimination and Islamophobia. Vienna: EUMC, 2006.

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    The annual reports of EUMC (now the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, or FRA) have provided updated information on discrimination against Muslims in each EU country. The standards of collected data for each country may vary, so the results are not always comparable across countries. Available online

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  • Hunter, Shireen T., ed. Islam, Europe’s Second Religion. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002.

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    A collection of articles that systematically survey the demography and organizations of Muslims in Western European countries.

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  • Kepel, Gilles. Allah in the West: Islamic Movements in America and Europe. Translated by Susan Milner. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997.

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    Compares Islamic movements in Britain, France, and the United States, arguing that the similarities of Muslims in these different nations demand more communalism.

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  • Brigitte, Maréchal, Allievi Stefano, Dassetto Felice, and Nielsen Jorgen, eds. Muslims in the Enlarged Europe: Religion and Society. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2003.

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    Analyzes the relationship between Muslims and the state in the fields of education, religious organization, law, and political participation. Also addresses the role of the media in how Muslims have been portrayed since September 11, 2001.

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  • Marranci, Gabriele. Understanding Muslim Identity: Rethinking Fundamentalism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

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    An ethnographic study of how radicalism and violence can be tied to the emotional aspect of some European Muslim identities.

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  • Pauly, Robert J., Jr. Islam in Europe: Integration or Marginalization? Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2004.

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    Provides an overview of the literature, particularly on Muslim communities in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Pauly examines the impact of security concerns after 9/11 on the marginalization of Muslims and the rise of far-right parties in Europe.

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  • Potz, Richard, and Wolfgang Wieshaider, eds. Islam and the European Union. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 2004.

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    Provides an updated discussion on how Muslim political demands are addressed in eight EU countries. The book is in English, except for the chapters on France and Spain.

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  • Van Bruinessen, Martin, and Stefano Allievi, eds. Producing Islamic Knowledge: Transmission and Dissemination in Western Europe. London: Routledge, 2009.

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    This collection addresses how Islamic knowledge is produced through fatwas (religiously authoritative answers to questions), in mosques, among intellectuals, and in educational institutions.

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State Policies

European states have specific political culture and organizational expectations with regard to church-state relations and immigrant integration, as explored in Fetzer and Soper 2005 and Kastoryano 2001. France is known for an assimilationist approach not recognizing group rights, while Britain, Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries follow a pattern of multiculturalism by sponsoring ethnic and religious groups, including Muslims (Rath, et al. 2001). There are comparative studies on Islam in various European countries that examine the role of state policies in shaping Islam and Muslim identity differently, including Ferrari and Bradney 2000 and Cesari and McLoughlin 2005.

  • Cesari, Jocelyne, and Sean McLoughlin, eds. European Muslims and the Secular State. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2005.

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    These collected essays examine the relationship of Muslims to the secular European states. They evaluate the impact of secular states on Muslim leadership, organization, and religious authority in civil society.

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  • Ferrari, Silvio, and Anthony Bradney, eds. Islam and European Legal Systems. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2000.

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    The essays in this collection explore how European legal systems respond to the demands of Muslims. The relationship between religion and law is addressed, as are the legal aspects of Muslim integration in Europe.

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  • Fetzer, Joel S., and J. Christopher Soper. Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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    Analyzes state policies toward Muslim religious practices in Britain, France, and Germany. The authors criticize the existing models of Muslim-state relations in Europe and suggest that historical church-state relations determine the level of accommodating Muslim demands.

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  • Kastoryano, Riva. Negotiating Identities: States and Immigrants in France and Germany. Translated by Barbara Harshav. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001.

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    This book, originally published in French in 1996, is one of the earliest studies based on ethnographic fieldwork. Kastoryano explores the impact of state policies on ethnic and religious identity formation among Muslims in Europe.

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  • Rath, Jan, Rinus Penninx, Kees Groenendijk, and Astrid Meyer. Western Europe and Its Islam. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2001.

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    Looks at Muslim institutionalization and its interaction with state policies in The Netherlands, Belgium, and Britain, focusing on the role played by agents from the host society and the political and ideological positions adopted by them in reaction to claims by Muslims.

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Ethnicity, Gender, and Identity

Immigrants with Muslim backgrounds vary along ethnic, national, linguistic, sectarian, generational, and interpretational lines, as noted in Vertovec and Peach 1997, while the gender dimension of Muslim identity in Europe is emphasized in Roald 2001. Madood 2005 notes that there are three major ethno-national groups of Muslims in Europe: North Africans (Algerian, Moroccan, and Tunisian) in France, Turks in Germany, and “subcontinentals” (Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Indian) in Britain. The concentration of each ethno-national group in different countries has resulted in studies that concentrate on each community and how they negotiate their ethnic and religious identities in relation to their countries of origin and residence (see Höfert and Salvatore 2000, Haddad 2002). Duderija 2007 provides an overview of the literature focusing on Muslim youth identity.

  • Duderija, Adis. “Literature Review: Identity Construction in the Context of Being a Minority Immigrant Religion: The Case of Western-born Muslims.” Immigrants and Minorities 25, no. 2 (2007): 141–162.

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    Provides an overview of the literature on identity politics among the young generation of Muslims.

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  • Haddad, Yvonne, ed. Muslims in the West: From Sojourners to Citizens. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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    The collected essays in this volume look at how Muslims are adapting to life in Europe and the United States. The authors examine the negotiation of religious identity within secular and pluralist societies, offering a guide to the changing landscape of Islam in the West.

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  • Höfert, Almut, and Armando Salvatore, eds. Between Europe and Islam: Shaping Modernity in a Transcultural Space. Brussels: Peter Lang, 2000.

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    The articles in this volume present new theoretical discussions on how the interaction of Islam and Europe can provide positive results through the lived experience of young generations.

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  • Madood, Tariq. Multicultural Politics: Racism, Ethnicity, and Muslims in Britain. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005.

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    The author is a leading voice in the discussions on Muslims in Britain. He combines theoretical and policy questions in analyzing how multiculturalism as an ideal is tested in Europe through British racial politics. He calls for a redefinition of racism, liberalism, and being British to make them inclusive of ethnic and religious minorities.

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  • Roald, Anne Sofie. Women in Islam: The Western Experience. London: Routledge, 2001.

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    Focuses on Arab Islamists in Europe, exploring questions regarding women in Islam. Roald shows how Islamic perceptions of women and gender relations tend to change in Western Muslim communities.

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  • Vertovec, Steven, and Ceri Peach, eds. Islam in Europe: The Politics of Religion and Community. New York: St. Martin’s, 1997.

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    Includes essays on Muslims across Europe, including indigenous Muslims in Bulgaria and Greece and immigrant Muslims in Sweden and Italy.

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Islamic Movements and Organizations

Transnational organizations from countries of origin reflect multiple forms of Islam, such as traditional Islam (Masud 2000), political Islamism (Bowen 2004), “official Islam” (Den Exter 1990), Sufism (Malik and Hinnells 2006), civil Islam (Yavuz and Esposito 2003), revolutionary Islamism (Wiktorowicz 2005, Coolsaet 2008), and others (Allievi and Nielsen 2003). The initial strategy of many such organizations was to effect political change in the country of origin. Since this effort has largely failed, their focus is now on shaping what it means to be a Muslim in Europe. They play an intermediary role, negotiating between the social and religious needs of Muslims, on the one hand, and the socioeconomic, legal, and political context of Europe, on the other.

Islam in Specific Countries/Regions

Various studies focus on Islam and Muslims within specific European nations. They therefore address questions specific to the country of interest.

Austria

There are approximately 350,000 Muslims living in Austria, with the major ethnic groups coming from Turkey and Bosnia. Abid 2006 and Kroissenbrunner 2003 introduce the major Islamic actors and explain how Muslims are incorporated in Austrian society.

Belgium

There are approximately 350,000 to 400,000 Muslims in Belgium, with Turks and Moroccans making up 80 percent of all Muslims in the country. Belgian multicultural policies have sponsored Islamic institutionalization, especially through religious education in public schools. Lesthaeghe 2000 measures Muslim integration through large-scale surveys, while Kanmaz 2002 and Boender and Kanmaz 2002 provide detailed data on the role of religious authorities in negotiating between Muslims and the larger society.

  • Boender, Welmoet, and Meryem Kanmaz. “Imams in The Netherlands and Islam Teachers in Flanders.” In Intercultural Relations and Religious Authorities: Muslims in the European Union. Edited by W. A. R. Shadid and P. S. van Koningsveld, 169–180. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 2002.

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    The authors compare the role of imams and teachers in The Netherlands and Belgium, respectively, as the rising religious authorities to be trained and recognized by state authorities.

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  • Kanmaz, Meryem. “The Recognition and Institutionalization of Islam in Belgium.” The Muslim World 92, nos. 1–2 (2002): 99–113.

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    Provides an overview of the recognition process of Islam and Muslim religious institutionalization in Belgium.

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  • Lesthaeghe, Ron, ed. Communities and Generations: Turkish and Moroccan Populations in Belgium. Brussels: VUB University Press, 2000.

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    This collection of articles examines immigrant integration among Turkish and Moroccan Muslims, based on large surveys and statistical data.

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France

France has an estimated five million Muslims, the largest Muslim population among Western European countries. Laurence and Vaisse 2006 present a comprehensive analysis of France’s Muslims, who are largely of North African descent. France has also been the site of a public debate surrounding the “headscarf affair,” which erupted after headscarves were banned, along with other religious symbols, in 2004, in part because of French laïcité (which, unlike American-style secularism, is an active disestablishment of religion). Bowen 2006 and Kuru 2008 address this contentious issue. The French state’s denial of any group-specific rights has increased tensions between the state and an economically and socially marginalized Muslim minority, which arguably erupted during the civil unrest of 2005.

  • Bowen, John Richard. Why the French Don’t Like Headscarves: Islam, the State and Public Space. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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    Bowen authoritatively shows that the headscarf issue has become directly tied to what it means to be French. He engages with the topic as an anthropologist reflecting the debates on the street as well as among philosophers.

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  • Kuru, T. Ahmet. “Secularism, State Policies, and Muslims in Europe: Analyzing French Exceptionalism.” Comparative Politics 41, no. 1 (2008).

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    The author reviews the explanations for the banning of the headscarf in France and suggests that the historical development of church-state relations led to laïcité, an assertive type of secularism. It provides a comparative political science approach to explain the headscarf ban in France. Available online.

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  • Laurence, Jonathan, and Justin Vaisse. Integrating Islam: Political and Religious Challenges in Contemporary France. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2006.

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    Provides a comprehensive analysis of Muslims in France, including intermarriage rates among Muslims, economic indicators, and government policies. The book focuses on how, despite the difficulties, Muslims are becoming part of French society and feeling at home there.

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  • Roy, Olivier. Secularism Confronts Islam. Translated by George Holoch. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.

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    Roy, a leading expert on political Islamic movements, provides one of the best analyses of laïcité and Islam in France.

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Germany

Germany has an estimated 3.3 million Muslims, more than two-thirds of whom are of Turkish origin. Germany recognizes other religious communities, such as Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, and Greek Orthodox churches. However, Muslims have not yet been recognized as a religious community. Ewing 2006 discusses how discourses and practices of hybrid identities are emerging through an Islamic language, while Heitmeyer, et al. 1997 focuses on socioeconomic structures as the determinant of Muslim marginalization. There are also case studies that focus on Islamic organizations, such as Sufi groups (Jonker 2002) and revolutionary Islamists (Schiffauer 2000).

  • Ewing, Katherine P. “Between Cinema and Social Work: Diasporic Turkish Women and the (Dis)Pleasures of Hybridity.” Cultural Anthropology 21, no. 2 (2006): 265–294.

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    Ewing challenges the way in which Turkish women and gender relations are depicted by German filmmakers and social workers. She argues that the celebration of hybridity as a strategy of mediating difference is making the integration of Muslim and Turkish women in Germany more difficult.

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  • Heitmeyer, Wilhelm, Joachim Müller, and Helmut Schröder. Verlockender Fundamentalismus: Türkische Jugendliche in Deutschland. Frankfurt, Germany: Suhrkamp, 1997.

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    This book (The Allure of Fundamentalism: Turkish Youths in Germany) suggests that low socioeconomic status and discrimination against Muslim youth in Germany cause them to seek religiously radical movements. The book has caused controversy because of its causal explanation, which simplifies questions of identity formation and religious authorization.

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  • Jonker, Gerdien. Eine Wellenlänge zu Gott: der “Verband der Islamischen Kulturzentren” in Europa. Bielefeld, Germany: Transcript, 2002.

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    This book (A Wavelength to God: The “Federation of Islamic Cultural Centers” in Europe) describes one of the largest mystical Islamic organization among Turkish Muslims in Germany, the Suleymanli. This is a branch of the Naqshbandiya order and is organized through mosques across Europe. Jonker links this movement to the larger Sufi tradition and observes how they institutionalize and engage in activism in Germany.

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  • Schiffauer, Werner. Die Gottesmänner: Türkische Islamisten in Deutschland. Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch, 2000.

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    This book (God’s Men: Turkish Islamists in Germany) describes and analyzes the rise of a revolutionary Turkish Islamist group founded by Cemalettin Kaplan. The followers of this group had shrunk to several hundred before they were banned by the German authorities after 2001. The book is rich in ethnographic description and analyzes the identity questions of Turkish youth who join this group.

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Great Britain

Britain has close to two million Muslims, predominantly from the subcontinent, including countries such as Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh (Baxter 2006). Nielsen 1999 notes that British policies have been multicultural, accommodating Muslim demands on the local level, which has increased the expectations of European Islam emerging in Britain. However, the language of racial politics and discrimination makes the case of British Muslims different from those in other European nations. Moreover, beginning with the Rushdie affair, the ideal of multiculturalism has been challenged, as outlined in Lewis 2002. Werbner 1996 and Werbner 2002 illustrate ethnographically how transnational identity-making among British Pakistanis combines religious and ethnic symbols and practices.

Italy

There are approximately 800,000 Muslims living in Italy. Allievi 2003 and Grillo and Pratt 2002 explore the Italian experience of Muslim immigration and compare it with that of other European countries.

The Netherlands

There are one million Muslims in The Netherlands, predominantly from Turkey and Morocco. There are also Muslims from former Dutch colonies such as Surinam and Indonesia. Dutch multiculturalism has been challenged with the rise of populist politicians such as Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and the murder of the film director Theo Van Gogh in 2004 by a Dutch-Moroccan. Landman 1992 provides data on the development of Islamic institutions, and Phalet 2004 updates this information. Shadid and van Koningsveld 1992 explore various questions concerning Muslims using multidisciplinary approaches, while Sunier 1996 is an ethnographic study focusing on Turkish Muslims.

  • Landman, Nico. Van mat tot minaret: De institutionalisering van de islam in Nederland. Amsterdam: VU Uitgeverij, 1992.

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    Provides an authoritative historical description of the institutionalization of Islam in The Netherlands. This work is very comprehensive in describing Islamic movements among the various ethnic and sectarian groups in The Netherlands.

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  • Phalet, Karen, ed. Moslim in Nederland. The Hague: Social and Cultural Planning Bureau, 2004.

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    This is a report commissioned for the Dutch government. It provides updated information on Islamic organizations in The Netherlands.

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  • Shadid, W. A. R., and P. S. van Koningsveld, eds. Islam in Dutch Society: Current Developments and Future Prospects. Kampen, The Netherlands: Kok Pharos, 1992.

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    These two authors have edited and authored several volumes discussing issues of Muslim accommodation in The Netherlands and Europe more generally.

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  • Sunier, Thijl. Islam in beweging: Turkse jongeren en islamitische organisaties. Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis, 1996.

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    Examines how various types of identities are constructed by young individuals in different Turkish Islamic movements. It shows that ethnic and religious identities are strong sources of mobilization among young Dutch-Turkish Muslims.

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Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland)

Studies on Islam in Scandinavian countries are often in native languages. Studies such as Holm, et al. 2002 and Martikainen 2007 introduce Islamic organizations in the various Scandinavian countries. There are also studies that focus on conversion (Roald 2004) and multiculturalism (Wikan 2000).

Spain

The Moorish history of Spain makes the current study of Muslim presence and identity formation in that nation different from the study of these issues in other Western European countries (Menocal 2002). In various sources, the impact of this past is discussed as it relates to conversion (Bahrami 1998) and gender (Dietz and El-Shohoumi 2005) and religious authority (Arigita 2006).

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