Summary of The Islamic Challenge

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7

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Recommendation

The increasing presence of Muslims in predominantly Christian Western Europe is an inflammatory emotional and political topic. Concerns about terrorism, and about the ways this guest religion and culture are altering European values, focus on huge perceived threats. But how real are they? Political scientist Jytte Klausen takes a dispassionate, social-science approach to answering this question through first-hand interviews with more than 300 Muslim leaders in six Western European nations. What she found is surprising. She makes the case that Western European nations can control the outcome of this emotional debate, and can defuse seething discontent through social programs and minor changes to restrictive legislation. getAbstract recommends this to people who want one scholar’s overview of the important role of religion in Western Europe. It’s dry reading, but it contains powerful messages that may actually help integrate Europe’s newest wave of immigrants – of course, if that is everyone’s genuine goal.

About the Author

Danish-born Jytte Klausen is a professor of comparative politics at Boston’s Brandeis University, and the author of several works on social policy, women’s equality and immigration. Her other books include Has Liberalism Failed Women?

 

Summary

Culture Clash?

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the cultural and religious differences between Europe’s Muslims and Christians have become more visible. This is especially true in predominantly Christian Western Europe, where new Muslim immigrants have created their own social and religious institutions. As more Muslim immigrants continue to come to Europe, local governments prognosticate about forming effective social policies to incorporate the new arrivals.

In the 1950s and 1960s, they could delay because most Muslim workers in Europe were single men who worked seasonally and sent their wages home. As Muslim immigrants sought more permanent status in Europe, absorption and social welfare issues moved to the political forefront. Today estimates say 15 million Muslims live in Western Europe, although this number is considered inflated. Public reaction ranges from mixed to unfavorable. People question Muslim loyalty to Western values, and worry about certain cultural practices, such as Muslim dress and Shariah law. Several high-profile terrorist arrests have further inflamed public concerns. Despite the tensions, observers who looked for a “...


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