How Europe and Islam Can Get Along

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.”

 

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Daniel Philpott

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