Can European Muslims Resist Assimilation?

“Muslim minorities in Europe may aspire to become strong and economically successful, building long-lasting institutions and contributing to their societies at large — this is necessary. But with state repression they will never achieve any autonomy or security, since even private Islamic schools and mosques will be heavily scrutinized and regulated. Governments that actively commit themselves to facilitating heterogeneity are needed; this cannot be a purely bottom-up process. To this end, Muslim minorities must mount a firm defense of religious freedom and pluralism, in parallel to creating and strengthening community institutions. The liberal nation-state, we should remember, is a recent creation. It may yet be a short-lived one. “

Traversing Tradition

The Charter of Principles of French Islam declares the religion to be compatible with France’s particular brand of secularism,laïcité, and its attendant values; in other words, it represents the subjugated and heavily privatised form of the religion that President Macron wishes to see. In January, a close advisor to Macron warned that Muslim organizations which refused to sign the charter would “see their operations inspected very, very closely by our services.” [1] The French Republic cannot tolerate Muslim difference: it aims only to homogenize and assimilate.

Any Muslim response to the situation must first question how a state can tolerate pluralism without feeling fundamentally threatened. To this end, a foray into global history may prove valuable: Europe has always struggled with internal diversity, whereas elsewhere it has been the historical norm. The early modern Ottoman Empire presents an example of a polity that was not secular, yet facilitated greater…

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