After Secularization (special double issue)   /   Spring/Summer 2006   /    Articles

Islam in European Publics

Nilüfer Göle

The European nations are witnessing unprecedented forms of encounter with Islam.11xThis paper was adapted from a presentation at the conference “Religion, Secularism, and the End of the West,” held by the Center on Religion and Democracy and Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture in Laxenburg/Vienna, Austria, on June 3, 2005. The claims of new generations of migrant Muslims within European nation-states, but also the Turkish claim for membership in the European Union, raise a series of public debates, which particularly focus on the presence of Muslims in Europe, and generally address Western cultural values of democracy. Europe (meaning both European nations and the European Union) becomes a central site for this encounter. Furthermore, the Europe-based controversies have spread into other publics and provoked conflicts at a global scale. The cartoon controversy, for example— the publication of cartoons on Islam and the Prophet in a Danish right-wing newspaper created a debate on the relation between freedom of expression and religious tolerance at the European scale, but provoked anger and protestation in the Middle East, expanding the debate to other Muslim publics, including Indonesia and Pakistan.

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