Islam in Europe



Center for European Studies
3324 Turlington Hall
PO Box 117342
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 294-7142
(352) 392-8966 (fax)

March 6, 2009 from 9:00am-4:00pm in 215 Dauer Hall.

This event is sponsored by the Center for European Studies and the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence.











Time Topic / Event
8:45am Arrival
9:00am Welcome and Introductions
9:15-11:00am Panel 1
Dr. Anne Sofie Roald
“Muslim Family Legislation in Scandinavia: Individual or Collective Rights?”Dr. Jonas Otterbeck
“Home is Where the Faith is: Muslim Youth in Europe Negotiating About the Competence Sphere of Islam”Discussion leader: Dr. Susan O’Brian
11:00-11:15am Coffee Break
11:15am-1:00pm Panel II
Dr. Seán McLoughlin
“Muslim Organisations, Multiculturalism and the UK State”Dr. Abdoulaye Kane
“African Sufi Muslims in Europe: Discourse, Practices and Home Connections of Senegalese Religious Diasporas”Discussion leader: Dr. Patricia Woods
1:00-2:00pm Lunch Break
2:00-3:45pm Panel III
Dr. Christopher Soper
“Religious Institutions, Church-State History, and Muslim Mobilization in Britain, France, and Germany”Dr. Badredine Arfi
“‘Islam’ in EU-trope: The Impossible Politics of Othering Under Conditions of Auto-Immunity”Discussion leader: Dr. Daniel O’Neill
3:45-4:15pm Concluding comments and discussion


Dr. Badredine Arfi

“‘Islam’ in EU-trope: The Impossible Politics of Othering Under Conditions of Auto-Immunity”

Millions of Muslims are a constitutive part of the human landscape in Europe. Muslims in Europe form very diverse socioeconomic, political, cultural, religious, ethnic, institutional, and organizational and otherwise groupings. ‘Islam’ and ‘Europe’ have been in continuous interactions and transactions for centuries in all aspects of what defines or is thought to define humanity. That ‘Europe’ qua tropology has been and is still undoubtedly undergoing far-reaching changes cannot be doubted under a condition where the theme of so-called European identity is incessantly under scrutiny, inside and outside geographic Europe proper. Given all these elements and many similar ones: Does it make sense to speak of ‘Islam in Europe’? Is it a ‘legitimate’ question to pose? Is it an ‘innocent’ or ‘objective’ question to ask? Do or can we know what Islam ‘was’, ‘is’, ‘will be’, or, ‘ought to be’? Do or can we know what Europe’s identity is? These are very important questions that have been and are being currently addressed in a huge volume of literatures, both within and outside academia.

My gaze is on a different set of issues. I ask questions on the ‘taken-for-granted’ in posing such questions, in speaking of ‘Islam’ and of ‘Europe’, and of Islam ‘in’ Europe. I specifically probe into the notions of identity, other, difference, etc. I thus ask the question: How would different ways of thinking, speaking, conceptualizing and understanding key notions such as ‘identity’, ‘difference’, and ‘other’ impact on the issue of ‘Islam in Europe’ as we think, write, speak, and address it? This, I argue, is of paramount importance in today’s context in Europe (and elsewhere) in the era of post-9/11 and post-7/77, if usually not noted as such. Whether at the level of theory, practice or policy, very few scholars and practitioners pay enough sustained attention to the fact that how we think/not-think, speak/silence, inscribe/erase, and address/ignore various aspects of the ‘Islam in Europe’ issue has much to do with the concepts of ‘identity’, difference’, and ‘other’. Whereas policy-makers, activists, peace-advocates, and fear-mongers do deploy these concepts for or against certain strategies, agendas and purposes, it is also incumbent on us to ‘deconstruct’ these concepts so as to open up a horizon for change and hopefully emancipation. The gist of this project is thus to propose a new approach for thinking about ‘Islam in Europe’ through a deconstruction of the concepts of ‘identity’, ‘difference’ and ‘other’. The work of deconstruction unfolds through a strategy that makes more transparent not only the dilemmas and aporias that are inherent in the phrase ‘Islam in Europe’, but also the ethical responsibility that incurs upon us in engaging in the work of deconstruction, an infinite responsibility toward le tout autre on how to think/speak of/inscribe an impossible politics of othering under a condition of auto-immunity.

Dr. Abdoulaye Kane

“African Sufi Muslims in Europe: Discourse, Practices and Home Connections of Senegalese Religious Diasporas”

The context of migration in France has brought together in a same space different ethnic groups and nationalities that have in common Islam as a religion. These places provide interesting perspective on the question of how the notion of Umma with its universal principle is applied to integrate different Islamic traditions. Are Haal Pulaar, Soninke and wolof, Moroccan, Turks and Algerians immigrants in Compiègne forming a same community based on their common Islamic religion? All these people meet at the Madjid or during the Friday prayer as Muslim brothers and sisters in communion. An outside observer may conclude, looking at these specific situations, that the word umma has a true meaning and correspond to a living reality among Muslim immigrants in France. But when we are interested in how the immigrants define what it means to be Muslim, we start to see appearing mutually exclusive definitions and perceptions between Sufi Muslims and Wahabit, Arabs and Black Africans. They all claim clearly and loudly their Muslim identity but they also often have different understanding of what it means to be Muslim. These different perceptions are in many cases self exclusive. The attitudes of North Africans towards Black African Muslims who do not speak Arabic are seen by the later as basically ethnocentric and sometimes racist. In this paper I will try situate the specificity of African Sufi Islam in the French Context by looking at their discourses, practices and home connections.

Dr. Seán McLoughlin

“Muslim Organisations, Multiculturalism & the UK State “

In this paper I examine the changing relationship between Muslim organisations and the State in the United Kingdom. The first part of my analysis presents an overview of the ways in which the structure of the British State, in terms of legislation, policymaking and the existence of an established church, has provided the framework within which Muslims have organised themselves since the 1960s. In particular, my account examines the New Labour government’s emphasis on civic renewal and the related emergence of what I call the ‘faith relations industry’ at a time of greater securitisation since ‘9/11’ and ‘7/7′. I also trace a shift in the main focus of Muslim leaders’ engagement with the State, from more ethnically-oriented grassroots networks at the local level from the 1960s, to a more ‘professionalized’ national focus for representation of Muslims as ‘Muslims’ at the national level since the Rushdie Affair in 1989. My paper culminates with an examination of the rise and fall of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), a Muslim umbrella organisation which was inaugurated in 1997. Despite being courted by New Labour prior to ‘9/11’ as a likely solution to the stated longstanding problem of finding a single Muslim interlocutor for UK government, since ‘7/7’ especially the MCB has fallen out of favour with government. Indeed, because of its position on UK foreign policy and uncertainties about the Islamist heritage of many of its affiliates, as well as its willingness and ability to challenge the rhetoric of radicalisation, the State has recently sought to engage more plural platforms for Muslim representation.

Dr. Jonas Otterbeck

“Home is Where the Faith is: Muslim Youth in Europe Negotiating About the Competence Sphere of Islam”

Young adult Muslims in Europe are searching for accepted expressions of their religion, but also consciously use Islam to provoke their surroundings. This presentation will try to discuss this situation by drawing from new research on young adult Muslims in different European societies. One of the main arguments will be that to maintain respectability in society many Muslims choose a privatized form of religion. Parts of the lecture will describe this kind of Islam. Another argument is that Islamist activism must be understood in relation to socioeconomic factors and politics.

Dr. Anne Sofie Roald

“Muslim Family Legislation in Scandinavia: Individual or Collective Rights?”

This presentation deals with multiculturalism in view of family legislation in the two Scandinavian countries Sweden and Norway. The claim is that the religious associations official right to marry couples in Norway and Sweden creates the multi-culturalist conception of religious legislation as legitimated by the state. Religious associations’ legal right to marry is possibly a result of the special state church system in the two countries. As for Islam and for the two main directions within Judaism; the Orthodox and the Conservative, underlying premises of the religious marriage contracts are not acceptable in view of the Scandinavian gender equal opportunity policy. First and foremost, the rights for women in the two religions are restricted compared to the right men have in the respective religious legislations. Particularly in the case of divorce, men have the last saying in whether a religious divorce is accepted or not. But even as it comes to the Islamic propositions for economic division of properties in case of divorce this is not acceptable in view of the Scandinavian gender equal opportunity principles.

Dr. Christopher Soper

Religious Institutions, Church-State History, and Muslim Mobilization in Britain, France, and Germany

State accommodation of Muslim religious practices is an increasingly important and controversial political issue across Western Europe. While public scrutiny surrounding European Muslims is relatively new, relevant public policy throughout the region had been developing for decades, and in ways that will not easily be altered even in the face of trying social and political circumstances. This lecture explores how European states have addressed the religious needs of Muslims and why those responses have differed. It will highlight the effect of church-state institutions in shaping state responses to Muslim religious practices, and explore the political implications of this new religious population for largely secular states.


Dr. Badredine Arfi

Badredine Arfi is an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida. He received a Ph.D. in physics in 1988 and a Ph.D. in political science/international relations in 1996 both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His teaching and research interests include philosophy of discourse, political theory, theories of international relations, politics of the Middle East and North Africa, politics and theories of Islam, quantum game theory, and fuzzy logic methodology. His scholarly articles appear in journals such as International Studies Quarterly, Security Studies, Political Analysis, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Rationality and Society, Democratization, Physical Review Letters, Physical Review B, and Physica A. He is the author of International Change and the Stability of Multi-ethnic States (Indiana University Press, 2005). He is currently finishing two books: (1) Linguistic Fuzzy Logic Methods in the Study of Politics (World Scientific), (2) Discourse Theory as General-Economy of Play, based on an approach that combines Derrida’s deconstruction, Bataille’s notion of general economy and insights from Lacan’s theory of psychoanalysis.

Dr. Abdoulaye Kane

Dr. Abdoulaye Kane is an anthropologist who has done extensive research on the transnational experiences and social organization of Senegalese migrants in both Europe and the United States. In his research, he looks specifically at the flow of people, ideas, money and goods between Senegalese immigrant communities and their places of origin. His publications have focused on the way Senegalese hometown and religiously based organizations are used as effective instruments to create a sense of home for migrants in host societies while also allowing the continuity of strong connections to the communities of origin. He has in addition carried out participant fieldwork on the pilgrimage of Senegalese Muslims of the Tijani Sufi order from Senegal to Morocco, and then to Mante-la-Jolie in the suburbs of Paris, where an annual religious retreat is celebrated.

Dr. Seán McLoughlin

Dr. Seán McLoughlin is a Senior Lecturer in Religion, Anthropology and Islam in the University of Leeds department of Theology and Religious Studies. Dr. McLoughlin’s research to date has focused mainly on anthropological approaches to the Pakistani and Kashmiri heritage Muslim presence in Britain. He has published more than 20 journal articles, book chapters and reports on issues concerning religion and ethnicity, diaspora and identity. He has worked on or acted as consultant to various public projects and lectured in seven countries outside the UK. Between 2003 and 2007, Dr McLoughlin was joint coordinator of the Muslims in Britain Research Network, and between 2001 and 2005, he was part of the Network of Comparative Research on Islam and Muslims in Europe, co-editing European Muslims and the Secular State (Ashgate, 2005). Most recently, Dr McLoughlin has been the Principal Investigator on an AHRC Diasporas, Migration and Identities Programme network, Writing British-Asian Cities (2006-2008). A volume edited with co-applicants is in preparation as is another volume, co-edited with Kim Knott, Diasporas: Concepts, Identities, Intersections (Zed Books).

Dr. Jonas Otterbeck

Jonas Otterbeck, Ph.D. , is Assistant Professor at International Migration and Ethnic Relations, Malmö University, Sweden. He has done research on Muslim discourses on Islam in Sweden and on the situation of Muslim pupils in public school. Presently he is investigating Islamophobia in Sweden, Young adult Muslims understanding of Islam and the attitudes of Lebanese and Egyptian Muslim scholars to popular music. Otterbeck completed his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies in 2000. The dissertation is published in Swedish with the title Islam på svenska. Tidskriften Salaam och islams globalisering. (Islam in Swedish: The Journal Salaam and the Globalization of Islam. (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International). He has written several English articles published in journals and books.

Dr. Anne Sofie Roald

Roald is a Professor of Religious Studies, specialised in Islam, with extensive experience from fieldwork and research. Roald’s professional profile and research interests include Islamic movements, gender issues in Islam, Muslim immigrants in Europe, particularly in Scandinavia, and multiculturalism, religious minorities. Roald has worked as a researcher and lecturer at Department of Theology at Lund University (1990-1999) and at International Migration & Ethnic Relations at Malmø University-College (from 1999 onwards). She has been a guest lecturer at Wales University (1995-96) and at Al-Maktoum Institute for Arabic & Islamic Studies in Dundee, Scotland (2003-2004). From 2006 Roald is the director of the programme Politics of Faith at CMI.

Dr. Christopher Soper

Dr. Soper is the Frank R. Seaver Professor of Political Science at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1992 (political science), his Master of Divinity from Yale University Divinity School in 1986 (theology), and his B.A. from the University of Washington in 1983 (political science). Soper is the co-author of The Challenge of Pluralism: Church and State in Five Western Democracies (Rowman and Littlefield, 2008); Faith, Hope, and Jobs: Welfare to Work in Los Angeles (Georgetown University Press, 2006), Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany (Cambridge University Press, 2005), and the co-editor of Equal Treatment of Religion in a Pluralistic Society (Eerdmans, 1998); and the author of Religious Beliefs and Political Choices: Evangelical Christianity in the United States and Great Britain (New York University Press, 1994) and of numerous essays and articles in scholarly journals. He is currently working on a book on Taiwanese democracy.