Tag Archives: Islam in Europe

Liviatan on the Changing Function of Law in Europe’s Cultural Debates

Ofrit Liviatan (Harvard U.) has posted From Abortion to Islam: The Changing Function of Law in Europe’s Cultural Debates. The abstract follows.

The Article rethinks the law’s role in present-day European debates over Islam in light of its calming effects on the once fiercely-fought abortion reforms across Western Europe. Using examples from Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland the article demonstrates that the role of the legal process in each of these culture-based debates diverged along its two social functions. Reflecting growing public anxieties, legal actions concerning Muslims typically focused on generating social and cultural change, foreclosing the likelihood of political compromises. In contrast, at the time of abortion reform legal measures acted as mechanisms of social and cultural order, contributing to the pacification of the fierce public controversies even as moral disagreements over abortion endured. Drawing on this comparison, the article suggests that Europe’s constitutional review processes present a compromise-building path to deliberate contemporary conflicts over Islam.

The Article proceeds in three parts. Part II and III analyze the legal developments in the context of Islam and abortion across Western Europe, revealing a contrasting dynamics in the roles of the legal process in each of these debates. Part IV assesses the effects of the legal process in each of the debates and rules out alternative explanations for this divergence. It argues that the factor of time or European secularization cannot account for the current intensity-difference in each of these debates. The article concludes by proposing a path to launch the currently absent constitutional conversation over Islamic-based tensions in Western Europe. Modeled on abortion reform, constitutional courts should reach beyond proportional balancing and dictate policy frameworks addressing both the roots of Muslim disadvantages and the anxieties of the European public.

Nielsen (ed.), “Muslim Political Participation in Europe”

In February, the Edinburgh University Press will publish Muslim Political Participation in Europe edited by Jorgen Nielsen (University of Copenhagen). The publisher’s description follows.

Analyses European Muslim communities’ developing involvement in their political environment and related Muslim and public debates

Muslims are making themselves noticed in the political process of Europe. But what is happening behind the sensational headlines? Jørgen Nielsen looks at the processes and realities, from voting patterns in local and national assemblies to the tensions between ethnic, political and religious identities.

These developments drive internal Muslim debates including whether Muslims should take part in the democratic process at all, and rivalries over who should represent Muslims. They also inspire sharp discussion in Europe: how should European states view the increasingly active role of Muslims in the public space? Does it signal integration or separation?

Pei on Burqa Bans and the European Court of Human Rights

Sally Pei (Yale University Law School) has posted Unveiling Inequality: Burqa Bans and Nondiscrimination Jurisprudence at the European Court of Human Rights. The abstract follows.

Over the past decade, Europe has been the site of strident debates over integration and Islam. One major pole of controversy is the trend toward enacting legislation to prohibit Islamic veils from public places. Laws banning face coverings, already in force in France and Belgium, are under consideration in a number of European countries, including the Netherlands, Italy, and Switzerland. The laws raise fundamental questions about what it means to be French, Belgian, Dutch, or indeed European. But the bans are of special interest for another reason: They provide a likely testing ground for the nascent nondiscrimination jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (“the Court”), and a potential opportunity to bolster legal safeguards against discrimination at the regional level.

The laws might seem to invite an obvious challenge on the grounds that they deny the right to religious freedom guaranteed by Article 9 of the European Convention. But previous cases addressing restrictions on religious dress have sharply narrowed that avenue for redress. This Comment argues, however, that Article 14 nondiscrimination claims can fill that void. The Court’s Article 14 jurisprudence has long been criticized for its limited scope and application, but a recent line of cases in the education context evinces the emergence of a new doctrinal approach to discrimination. Properly applied and reinforced, that case law could mature into a general analytical framework for addressing the claims likely to arise from anti-burqa legislation and other discriminatory measures.

Durham, Kirkham & Lindholm (eds.), “Islam and Political-Cultural Europe”

This December, Ashgate Publishing will publish Islam and Political-Cultural Europe edited by W. Cole Durham Jr. (BYU – J. Reuben Clark Law School), David M. Kirkham (BYU – J. Reuben Clark Law School), and Tore Lindholm (University of Oslo, Norway). The publisher’s description follows.

Islam and Political-Cultural Europe identifies the sometimes confusing and often contentious new challenges that arise in daily life and institutions as Islam settles deeper into Europe. Critiquing past and recent assimilation efforts in the fields of education, finance, and security, the contributors offer prospective solutions to diverse contemporary problems. Exploring the interactions of Muslim, Christian and secular cultures in the context of highly pluralized contemporary European societies, this book offers a valuable tool for those within and outside Europe seeking to understand the far-reaching implications of combining cultures, the struggles of the Muslim-Christian-secular transition, and the progress which the future promises.

Rights and Judgment

This story reports that the Obama Administration has issued a statement questioning the “judgment” of the magazine Charlie Hebdo in publishing insulting pictures of the Prophet Mohammed (discussed by Mark immediately below).  The Administration — through its “porte-parole” Jay Carney — was careful to distinguish the issue of the magazine’s constitutional “right” to publish the pictures and its judgment in doing so because the Administration “know[s] that these images will be very shocking for many people,” and “might provoke violent reactions.”

The reaction of the Administration reminds me very much of the controversy over the construction of the so-called September 11 mosque in New York City.  I recall distinctly that the position of some at the time was that though there was and surely should be no legal barrier to the use of particular property vaguely proximate to the site of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, it would be unwise, or evince a lack of good judgment, for the rights-holders to exercise their rights.  I recall the cute statement, made somewhere by someone, that it is “not a question of rights, but a question of what is right.”  I also remember that the President came out at first quite strongly in support of the mosque and cultural center (as did Mayor Michael Bloomberg), but then backed off a bit when the issue was put not in terms of rights, but of judgment: ““I was not commenting, and I will not comment, on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there,” the President said. “I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about.” 

How about it readers?  Are the situations formally identical (with the exception that the President has commented negatively on the wisdom of publishing the cartoons, while he declined to do so with respect to the Ground Zero mosque)?  If so, are there nevertheless other salient differences between them?  Are there categorical differences, for example, between the wisdom of exercising a speech right and the wisdom of exercising the freedom of religion?

Yilmaz & Aykaç (eds.), “Perceptions of Islam in Europe: Culture, Identity, and the Muslim ‘Other'”

Edited by Hakan Yilmaz (Bogaziçi University, Turkey) and Çagla E. Aykaç, here is a book of essays presenting a series of case studies and more theoretical reflections on the condition of Muslim integration in Europe: Perceptions of Islam in Europe: Culture, Identity, and the Muslim ‘Other’ (Palgrave Macmillan 2012).  The publisher’s description follows.

For centuries, the Islamic world has been represented as the ‘other’ within European identity constructions — an ‘other’ perceived to be increasingly at odds with European forms of modernity and culture. With the perceived gap between Islam and Europe widening, leading scholars in this work come together to provide genuine and realistic analyses about perceptions of Islam in the West. The book bridges these analyses with in-depth case studies from Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and other parts of the European Union. This study goes beyond the usual dichotomies of “clashes of civilizations” and “cultural conflict” to try to understand the numerous, diverse and multifaceted ways — some conflictual, some peaceful — in which cultural exchanges have taken place historically, and which continue to take place, between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds.

Silvestri on the Identities of Europe’s Muslim Women

In June, Columbia University Press will publish Europe’s Muslim Women: Beyond the Burqa Controversy, by  Dr. Sara Silvestri, Senior Lecturer in International Politics at City University London.  Silvestri’s text attempts to transcend the international debates—e.g., about the burqa, the niqab, and subjection to men—surrounding Muslim women in Europe that inadvertently have the effect of obscuring who these women actually are.  Through the content of interviews and surveys, Silvestri hopes to paint a truer portrait of the domestic, religious, and socio-political identities of Europe’s Muslim women.

Please see the publisher’s description after the jump. Continue reading

The Muslim Brotherhood in Europe

In May, Columbia University Press will publish The Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, edited by Edwin Bakker, Professor of Terrorism and Counterterrorism at Leiden University in Holland, and Roel Meijer of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations.  The volume collects articles presenting different views on the Muslim Brotherhood‘s activities in Europe.  The articles explore the extent to which these activities mirror the Brotherhood’s activities in the Middle East and whether their presence in Europe promotes a positive rallying force for Europe’s Muslim communities or the dangerous potential of national and international destabilization by fomenting inter-communal and inter-religious conflict.

Please see the publisher’s description after the jump. Continue reading