The Charlie Hebdo killings have reignited the question of whether and how Muslims can be integrated into European societies. By what principle can such integration can succeed? I take up the question in a two-part posting at Cornerstone, the blog of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center.
In Part One, I look for an answer in the much-discussed work of Joan Wallach Scott, The Politics of the Veil. Scott takes France to task for making a universal out of its aggressive secularism, which turns out to be a very particular approach to religion and politics known as laïcité — and one that marginalizes Muslims. This much, Scott gets right.
But does Scott provide a better way forward? In Part Two, I express skepticism. Her postmodern politics of difference undermines her efforts to find a principle upon which religious and secular people can live together. More promising is religious freedom, a universal principle that affords wide latitude to religion while respecting liberal democracy.
My arguments here echo those that I invoked earlier on this blog in a debate with Elizabeth Shakman Hurd and that Timothy Samuel Shah invoked in his reflection on Jacques Berlinerblau’s critique of “pomofoco.”