Due to mass migration and globalisation Islam is now part of the political, social and cultural landscape of Europe. The “global presence of Islam and Muslims today requires that we speak not only of Islam and the West but also Islam in the West".
The workshop focused on the issue of Muslims in Europe by shying away from a unique culturalist understanding of this relation. Rather than simply a conflict between secularism and religion, or indeed a clash of civilization, the issue of Islam in Europe could be best understood in terms of the tensions emerging from the challenges that citizenship is undergoing due to global economic restructuring and cultural pluralism. Therefore, the workshop sought to address the issue of Islam in relation to citizenship in Europe in order to highlight the economic, cultural and political implications of this relation. This approach constituted a fresh and innovative one in the context of current debates about Islam in Europe.
In this context the workshop focussed on the following issues:
- How is cultural and religious difference shaped by economic insecurity and political and economic exclusion in Europe?
- What are the ways in which Muslim identities and claims are being constructed and accommodated in new discourses and practices of citizenship within the Europe?
- How are European legal and normative frameworks dealing with different forms of Muslim expression and claims for recognition in the public sphere?
- How Muslims of different generations (first, second and third) conceive and represent “Europe” as a cultural and political space?
Keynote Address: Professor Roberto Grandi, Vice-Rector for International Relations, Università di Bologna
Welcome: Dr Paul Flather,
Secretary-General, The Europaeum; and,
Professor Tiziano Bonazzi, Università di Bologna
Chair: Dr Gustavo Gozzi, University of BolognaSpeakers:
- Dr Tariq Modood, University of Bristol: Muslims, Religious Equality and Secularism
- Dr Nilufer Gole, (EHESS), Paris: Islam challenging definitions of European publicness and citizenship
- Chantal Saint-Blancat, University of Padova: Muslims in Italy: Strategies of social interaction in the local public space
- Professor Léon Buskens, Leiden University/Utrecht University: Muslims in the Polder. Current Debates about Islam and Immigration in the Netherlands
- Dr Laura Mijares, Universidad Complutense de Madrid: Muslims in Spanish Secondary Schools. New Islamophobia and Gende
- Julia Hieber, University of Oxford: Social and political demands of Muslim Youth in European cities: Munich as a case study
- Dr Annalisa Frisina, University of Padova: Young Muslims in/of Italy and their strategies of citizenship
- Dr Ahmad Al Shahi, University of Oxford: Observations on the Arabs/Muslims in Europe
List of Speakers
DR AHMED AL-SHAHI, is Research Fellow and co-organiser of the ''Sudan Programme'' at St. Antony''s College, Oxford University. He is a social anthropologist with special interest in Sudan and the Middle East. He taught social anthropology at the universities of Khartoum, Newcastle Upon Tyne and Oxford, and published widely on Sudan, the Middle East and Islam. His recent research interest is Arab/Muslim immigrants in Europe. He co-organised two conferences on this theme; the first was published as Middle East and North African Immigrants in Europe: Islam, Citizenship and Transnational Links (edited by Ahmed Al-Shahi and Richard Lawless), Routledge, 2005, and the proceedings of the second conference are in the process of being prepared for publication.
PROFESSOR TIZIANO BONAZZI University of Bologna, Italy: Professor Bonazzi Chairman of the Department of Politcs, Institutions and History and Professor of North American History at the University of Bologna, a member of the editorial board of the RSA Journal and member of the Europaeum Academic Committee. His publications include Citizenship and Rights in Multicultural Societies, “Una logica della modernità europea: dall’Inghilterra agli Stati Uniti”, in Carlo Galli, ed., Logiche e crisi della modernità, and Riconoscimento ed esclusione. Analisi storiche e modelli teorici.
PROFESSOR LÉON BUSKENS (1962) is a lecturer in Islamic law and anthropology of Muslim societies at Leiden university, and professor of Islamic law and culture at Utrecht University. He studied anthropology at Nijmegen University, and defended his doctoral dissertation on Islamic law and family relations in Morocco at Leiden University (1993). A revised version was published as Islamitisch recht en familiebetrekkingen in Marokko (Amsterdam: Bulaaq; 1999). His current research interests include Islamic law and society in the Maghreb, colonial policy and Islamic law, as well as the anthropological study of Islamic law.
DR PAUL FLATHER is Secretary–General of the Europaeum, an association of leading European Universities, and Fellow of Mansfield College, Oxford. He was the founding Secretary-General of the Central European University (1990-1994) originally set up in Budapest, Prague, and Warsaw by George Soros, and director of international and external affairs for Oxford University (1994-1999). Formerly, he worked at the BBC, Times Newspapers, and served as Deputy Editor of the New Statesman. His research work is on Indian political development since Independence. He has worked with dissident movements in Central Europe in the 1980s, and with race equality groups in the UK. He was an elected member of the London Council in the 1980s (chairing its committee on post-school education 1986-1990). He currently chairs the Noon Scholarship Committee, and is on the board of the Roundtable.
DR ANNALISA FRISINA has a PHD in Sociology of Intercultural Processes in the Public Space, University of Padua. Now she has a post-doctoral grant at the Department of Sociology, University of Padua and she is working on "citizenship and children of immigrants in Italy".
MS JULIE HIEBER is fluent in English, French and German and graduated with an Oxford BA (Hons) in Geography and a Cambridge MPhil in International Relations. Currently a final-year DPhil candidate at Oxford, she is writing her thesis on the interaction of Muslim Youth and Mosque Associations with(in) European cities (case study on Munich).
PROFESSOR TARIQ MODOOD University of Bristol, UK: Professor Modood is Director of the Leverhulme Programme on Migration and Citizenship, co-editor of the journal Ethnicities, and is involved in several research projects, including one on national identity and religion. His research interests include politics of racism, multiculturalism and secularism, and the politics of being Muslim in the West, with especial reference to British Asian Muslims.
PROFESSOR NILUFER GOLE is a professor of sociology at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. She works on the new configurations between islam and modernity, and in particular on the question of gender and the emergence of new muslim figures and practices in the public sphere from a comparative perspective. She is the author of “The Forbidden Modern, Veiling and Civilization” (University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor 1996). “Islam in Public”, (edited with Ludwig Ammann), (Bilgi University Press, Istanbul, 2005). Her latest publication is “Interpénetrations. L’Islam et l’Europe (Paris, Galaade Editions, 2005)
PROFESSOR CHANTAL SAINT-BLANCAT has degrees from the University of Paris (Institut d’Etudes Politiques and Institut d’Urbanisme) and Padua (Facoltà di Scienze Politiche). She received her PhD in Sociology and Social Research at the University of Trento with a thesis entitled Nation and Religion among the Iranians in Italy. She is associate professor in Sociology at the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Padova (Italy). Since 2000 she is Vice director of the PhD in Sociology: Intercultural Processes and Communication in the Public Space (Department of Sociology, Padua University). Her work deals with the socio-cultural changes among minority groups (national, ethnolinguistic and religious) and their social strategies. Since 1990 she specialized in the study of Muslim communities in Europe: socio-religious and juridical aspects, cultural conflicts, models of integration, changes in gender identity and family structures, the building of a Muslim Diaspora.
*Click here to download this Report, recently published in the Europaeum Review, Vol 8 Issue 1, Spring 2007.
Senior scholars and young researchers met in Bologna to locate the place of Muslims in European societies. LEON BUSKENS reviews the debates.
Europaeum has sponsored several scholarly meetings and seminars on Islam-in-Europe during past years. On two days last November, an international workshop on Islam and Citizenship in Europe was held in Bologna, coordinated by Dr Ruba Salih, well-known for her research on Moroccan immigrants in Italy and on multiculturalism and gender.
Our meetings took place in the Dipartimento di Politica, Istituzioni, Storia. The scholarly exchanges were made a success by the active participation of several faculty members, including Professors Tiziano Bonazzi, Gustavo Gozzi, and Pier Cesare Bori, other scholars and more than 200 young scholars and students.
After opening speeches by representatives of the university and Europaeum, including Secretary General Dr Paul Flather, Dr Salih introduced the aims of the workshop: immigration of considerable groups of Muslims has challenged, in many European countries received ideas about citizenship, and established dichotomies between the private and public, and religious and secular spheres. It is clear that nation states cannot continue to pursue an exclusionary policy. Yet multiculturalism seems to destabilize many classical categories of “modernity” and demands new ways of thinking and policy-making. In the first session two senior scholars of international renown, Professor Tariq Modood (Bristol) and Professor Nilüfer Göle (Paris), offered ideas for such a new conceptual framework. Professor Modood scrutinized the notion of equality in his plea to go beyond tolerance and secularism. Equal respect meant, for him, actively accepting and respecting differences of people within a multicultural society. It also leads to the questioning of the idea that religion should remain a private phenomenon. He called for a pragmatic, non-ideological approach, in which conflicts were negotiated. Islam could thus be integrated into the institutional framework of the state.
Professor Göle started with a detailed analysis of the mock veiling of three young women, whom she had seen that very morning at Bologna airport. The presence of Muslims prompts Europeans the rethink their “natural” ideas about citizenship. She took the headscarf issue as a way of analyzing an emerging transnational vocabulary of what it means to be a Muslim in Europe. Public space is becoming transnational, she agreed, as the Danish cartoons’ affair also demonstrated. In current debates about citizenship in Europe, much centered around the body, space, and memory. Thus, the current debate about Muslims is also a debate about Europe, democracy, and indeed, modernity itself. A lively discussion ensued.
The next two papers focused more on the national than on the European level. Professor Chantal Saint Blancat at Padua University portrayed the relatively recent formation of Muslim communities in Italy. She focused on the multiple ways in which Muslim immigrants developed ties at the local level. Especially illuminating, and entertaining, was her ethnography of the owners of kebab restaurants, who had managed to carve out a place for themselves in Padua – where it was much more the quality of the food than their religion which mattered. Her analysis also showed the importance of economic aspects in the debates about citizenship and identity.
Next, current debates about Islam and citizenship in the Netherlands was discussed by Professor Buskens. For Dutch opinion makers, the main issues were women, criminality, and a renewed interest in national history. Even leading intellectuals could hardly think outside an established alterity discourse, dominated by stereotypes. Gradually the key notions in the debate had changed from ethnicity and culture to Islam. The Dutch case was seen as part of a much larger, international debate, but also showed some national particulars. Only sound empirical research might change the aggressive misconceptions which currently dominated the public sphere. The day was concluded by a fine summary of the main points by Professor Gozzi, and an animated debate, in which many students also took an active part.
Our second day began with three illuminating case studies by young researchers, who offered fascinating ethnographic case material to supplement the theoretical and national analyses of the first day. Dr Laura Mijares of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, presented her research on Muslims in Spanish secondary schools. Again, the veil turned out to be an important symbol. Some authorities understood the veil as an obstacle to “integration”, and denied those girls wearing it access to schools. Here, a so-called “secularist” discourse of women’s rights was used to oppose the young women’s understandings of their own religious identities.
Julia Hieber, at St. Anthony’s College, Oxford, offered a micro analysis of the ways in which mainly Turkish immigrants in Munich were constructing their new identities through all kinds of local organizations. Their views of Islam very closely tied to specific characteristics of time and place. Thus, on the local level, the idea of the umma, the universal community of Muslims, was not a lived reality. Internal differences proved to be more important as organizational principles. Julia Hieber evaluated the activities of the Muslim youth associations as highly positive contributions to integration and social coherence. Indeed, it was argued that the Munich experiences could be a stimulating example for other European cities.
Dr Annalisa Frisina dealt with a similar theme in the Italian context. An association of Young Italian Muslims actively tried to counter Islamophobic tendencies which had emerged in Italy after 9/11. These young people went beyond defensive ideas about Islam, by focusing on the notion of citizenship itself. Thus, the debate also became a mirror for Italians, and an invitation to rethink allegedly “normal” categories, linked to nationalism and Catholicism. As such, Dr Frisina’s case study invited a return to the theoretical debates initiated and by Professors Modood and Göle.
Finally, the anthropologist Dr Ahmed Al-Shahi from St. Anthony’s College, Oxford presented some challenging thoughts on culture, integration, and citizenship. He referred to many examples from his personal experience, both as a researcher and teacher, and as an adviser to policy makers. He pronounced himself strongly against “a ghetto mentality” and isolationism, and challenged many of the earlier expressed views. He particularly turned against the political use which some immigrants made of Islam.
The ensuing debate was ably moderated by Professor Cesare Bori. In passing he contributed one of the most important and practical lessons to the workshop, when he mentioned his efforts to translate important philosophical and mystical texts from the Arabic, in collaboration with Muslim prisoners. The debates had been so lively that there was little time for conclusions. However, Dr Flather undertook a courageous attempt to sum up the main themes and issues. First, he pointed to the link between the debates about Islam and the crisis in European citizenship. To what extent were the particular national debates specific expressions of this more general concern? Second, could we discern any patterns in the national experiences of the different European countries? The case studies presented offered valuable material for this kind of research. Muslims constituted, in practice, highly varied communities, although many Europeans had constructed a uniform image which was at odds with this diversity. The way in which various European countries deal with the idea of secularism proved also to be very diverse, embedded in different historical trajectories.
Dr Flather concluded with a plea for more comparative research, both on common themes such as veiling, youth associations, and the media, and on national policies. For example, European countries could learn much form each other on the ways they were dealing with legal issues, as well as questions of representation.
The ‘oldest’ European university proved to be an excellent venue for this learning of each other through comparison. The bringing together of researchers from various European countries, holding differing points of view, lead to fruitful debates and exchanges.
Italy had relatively recently been confronted with the immigration of considerable groups of Muslims and scholars and students showed great curiosity and openness. This new look on problems which are for North/West Europe riven with conflict and difficulties was fresh and stimulating.
Thanks to the generosity and savoir vivre of our Bolognese hosts, and the stunning setting of a Medieval city, scholarship turned out to be not only an intellectual, but also a sensuous pleasure.
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