Islam in Europe: Public Spaces and Civic Networks by Spyros A. Sofos; Roza Tsagarousianou;
By Spyros A. Sofos; Roza Tsagarousianou;
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Additional resources for Islam in Europe: Public Spaces and Civic Networks
Quite often, the presence of assertive Muslim minorities in European societies has been perceived and depicted by populist politicians and commentators as a challenge to the norms, values and principles of liberal democracy. The latter see in demands that European Muslims put forward for recognition and voice a challenge to Western liberal (or even Christian, depending on one’s standpoint) values and a threat to social cohesion. The succession of controversies and disputes such as the ones we attempted to outline earlier on and the emergence of anti-Western terrorism in the name of Islam have contributed to the construction of a framework of understanding Islam, and European Muslims for that matter, that has given rise to definitions of the situation in Europe along the lines of what Huntington has called Clash of Civilizations (1996).
In addition, significant Muslim populations also live in India (comprising one of the largest Muslim communities in the world living alongside a non-Muslim majority), China (East Turkestan or Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) and several republics of the Russian Federation. The presence of Muslim populations in these territories and the influence of their religion and cultures is such that, they too, are readily associated with Islam and often feature in Islamic geographical and political imaginaries.
Such representation strategies drew and keep on drawing upon ‘extreme’ behaviour among Muslims (personalities such as the notorious Abu Hamza or – now outlawed – organizations such as Al-Gurabaa). By doing so, they have conflated Muslims and Islam with an extreme and possibly extremist minority within it and, impatiently and unsympathetically have refused to engage in processes of translation between ‘us’ and ‘them’, in attempts to comprehend the other’s individual and collective standpoint before passing judgement on them.