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Addressing the “Muslim question”

journal contribution
posted on 2015-04-03, 00:00 authored by Fethi MansouriFethi Mansouri, Michele LoboMichele Lobo, Amelia Johns
The question of whether Islam and Muslims belong in the West has been the subject of considerable political “debate” well before the events of 9/11. Indeed, subsequent events, though different but connected, have unfolded on the international scene as the “War on Terror”. This question has undoubtedly attracted public attention and the answers are more polarised nowadays as we live in the highly mediatised shadow of Al-Qa’eda and its more violent incarnation, the Islamic State (IS). Indeed, the clash of civilisation thesis advanced by Samuel Huntington had at its core a philosophical and practical assumption that Islam and the West are on a collision course because of their divergent cultural and value systems. In other words the cultural fault line that divides the Muslim world from the West is not only about democracy but also about ethics and values. The excessive securitisation of Islam and its public construction as “alien”, “foreign”, “threatening” and altogether “incompatible” with Western democratic values adds weight to the self-fulfilling prophecy that sees nothing but violent clashes in history that stretch from the Crusades to the War on Terror.
And nothing signals this supposed violent “clash” more than visible practices of Islamic faith within Western social milieus. The epitome of such characterisation emerged in 2004 when France passed a law banning the wearing of headscarves in public education institutions, arguing that this was a way of combating Islamic extremism and a gradual shift towards “communalism”. And indeed, since then we witnessed a plethora of similarly regressive legislations across Europe, Australia and North America, all signalling attempts at governing the “ungovernable Muslim Other” with specific aims to contain and counter radical tendencies within Islam and among Muslim Diasporas. It is in this context that arguing for a heuristic dimension within Islamic religiosity is all the more significant because this will contribute to a more nuanced and balanced account of Islamic rituals, practices and spirituality.

History

Journal

Journal of muslim minority affairs

Volume

35

Issue

2

Season

Special Issue

Pagination

165 - 170

Publisher

Routledge

Location

Abingdon, Eng.

ISSN

1360-2004

eISSN

1469-9591

Language

eng

Publication classification

C2 Other contribution to refereed journal

Copyright notice

2015, Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs

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