The Age of Scandal

As in North America, Catholic loyalties have been severely strained by persistent sex scandals over the past fifteen years, scandals that illustrate the apparent hypocrisy of the Catholic Church in condemning the sins of its flock. While these incidents have contributed to declining Catholic practice, they are symptoms of secularization as much as causes. If the Christian consensus had not been undermined already, stories of clerical abuse probably would not have reached the media and would...

Changing Religions

But while legal and political issues could have their impact, the most significant developments promise to be in the specifically religious realm, as changes in contemporary Europe affect members of different faith groups around the world. Muslims of course run the greatest risks in the short term and should benefit most in the longer perspective. For many Muslims, the encounter with Europe has produced a sudden and often shocking immersion in modernity and has, in addition, created a hothouse...

Settlers

New immigrants naturally settled where work was to be found, and that meant either the traditional urban centers or the then-thriving regions dominated by smokestack industries. A map of Muslim Europe today represents a ghost of the industrial scene of fifty years ago. Perhaps 40 percent of French Muslims are concentrated in the greater Paris region, especially the regions to the north and northeast of the city, in 93 (nine-cubed) the d partement of Seine-St.-Denis. Though these areas are now...

Regulating Speech

Responding to these events, and especially to the cartoon affair, some European thinkers and policy makers have demonstrated a remarkable willingness to concede that Muslim protesters did indeed have a point. G nter Grass, for instance, saw the cartoons as reminiscent of the famous newspaper of the Nazi era, the St rmer, which published anti-Semitic cartoons of a similar style. . . . Where does the West come by all this arrogance in dictating what is right and wrong European officials,...

How Much of a Change

In many ways, then, organized Christianity is in dire straits in most European nations, and certainly in comparison with the United States. Of course, before we can talk about decline, we need to specify the earlier period to which we are comparing, and we cannot simply assume that religion in general or Christianity in particular has always attracted the loyalty of the European masses. Religious indifference and militant unbelief were both commonplace in the nineteenth century, when plebeian...

Covering

Accumulating signs of assertion and autonomy by Muslim women might seem puzzling in light of recent controversies about campaigns demanding the right to wear veils or headscarves. For some Western observers, women appear to be pressing for the right to wear signs of their exclusion or inferiority, in contrast to their mothers, who had renounced any religious garb. Yet the drift to these visible tokens of Islam can be interpreted in more benevolent and indeed optimistic ways, and devout Muslim...

Saving the West

In western Europe too, some incidents suggest that Christianity is less moribund than the formal statistics might suggest. While a battery of numbers points to the institutional decline of European Catholicism, those do not necessarily indicate an uprooting of faith. Among Italians, 88 percent claim to be Catholic, though around two-thirds disagree with official church positions on assisted fertility and divorce. And even when people quarrel with the church, and attack the hierarchy bitterly,...

New Christians

The mission of The Church of the Lord (Aladura) in Europe is therefore to win all new, lukewarm and lost souls for Christ. The mission has been reversed because those to whom Christ Jesus was once preached are now back on the territory of the former preachers to preach Christ Jesus to them in all his goodness. What a mission reversed indeed Primate of the Church of the Lord (Aladura) Accounts of the collapse of Christianity neglect the growth of immigrant churches among Africans, East Asians,...

Cartoon Jihad

More recently, clashes between mainstream European values and Muslim sensitivities have been highlighted by the ferocious controversy over the cartoons published in the Danish regional newspaper Jyllands-Posten. In 2005, a children's book author complained that he could not find an artist willing to illustrate a work about Muhammad. In response, editor Flemming Rose was shocked by the general atmosphere of fear and self-censorship, and he accordingly commissioned and printed the famous twelve...

Europes Religions Tomorrow

If you are the type of person who buys stocks and bonds, I'd buy Christianity. The price now is very low it has to go up. American writers have made much use of Europe's modern encounter with Islam, often seeing the possible cultural and religious transformation as a horrible warning for their own society. Some of these projections are much more plausible than others. But even if Europeans experienced a fairly benevolent transition to a multifaith society, that change would still have...

Info

The mass Church may be something lovely, but it is not necessarily the Church's only way of being. The divine demolition of any Church means that every Church arises as a signpost, threshold, and door of hope Broken, the Church can bear its message with its head erect, for the Gospel belongs to the Church that is lost. To overcome the many restrictions that limit their activities on the Sabbath, observant Jews sometimes construct a symbolic boundary called an eruv, which might cover a few...

Multicultural Dilemmas

Over the past decade, discussions about multiculturalism and Muslim identity have commonly focused on women's issues. As we have seen, liberal states strongly affirm their belief in women's equality, to the point that many have ministries devoted to enforcing and advancing gender equality. At the same time, both Europe and its constituent states support the principles of multiculturalism, of recognizing and supporting cultural difference without seeking to impose any one set of values as...

Rebels

The most forthright critic of multiculturalism in these contexts is Somali-born Dutch legislator Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose experiences caused ever-greater disaffection from Muslim community values. Born in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, Ali had a conservative Muslim upbringing, which included experiencing circumcision. Coming to the Netherlands as a refugee, she became increasingly visible as a political activist and was elected to the Dutch parliament. Observing the Netherlands, she came to...

Forces for Change

The core issue, then, is less the ethnic character of a future Europe than its religious tone, and that question remains very open. Over time, Islam has come in many shades of practice, some much more open and tolerant than others. Everything depends on how people of Muslim origin will be affected by the secularizing climate of Europe, and one way to predict likely trends is to understand the recent experience of Christian populations. As Weigel and others have pointed out, Christian loyalties...

The Birth Dearth

If Islam is indeed advancing, then according to many recent accounts, it has little opposition that it need overcome. Writers stress the collapse of older religious values especially Christianity and link that directly to the demographic crisis. Niall Ferguson agrees that Europe's Muslims may well outnumber believing Christians, given the collapse of church attendance and religious faith in Europe. Charles Krauthammer portrays a cocooned, aging, post-historic Europe, a society waiting for the...

Agendas

Having said this, many of the contemporary alarms about the fate of Europe carry a powerful sense of d j vu. This does not necessarily invalidate the warnings, but it should make us examine them more closely. A century ago, for instance, European thinkers were deeply disturbed about the racial degeneration of their populations, as population decline among the best stock threatened to leave the future to outsiders and lesser breeds. Prophecies that Islam would overwhelm Christian Europe also...

Against Multiculturalism

In the 1970s, the idea that non-European immigrants could not be assimilated into white Christian societies was the familiar currency of the extreme right, of political movements that shaded into neo-fascist and neo-Nazi ideologies. Since 2001, though, such views have become increasingly common in respectable politics, even on the left. After years of regarding figures like Enoch Powell as political lepers, Europeans with solid left-liberal credentials found themselves asking urgently whether...

Free Markets

We have three ways of explaining the situation. Either Europe is following the natural path of secularization, from which the United States has deviated or the United States represents a normal trajectory, while Europe is different or else secularization theory itself is flawed. In explaining Europe's Exceptional Case, Grace Davie argues that Europeans have not so much accepted secularism en masse, but rather that their history has led them to see religious institutions almost as public...

Women in European Islam

The longer Muslims live in Europe and experience its powerful cultural trends, the more they are likely to acquire the common attitudes toward gender and sexuality. This cultural ambience will promote demands for statements of religious doctrine that will accommodate new sensibilities. One major trend profoundly affecting Europe is the expansion of religious education among women. In traditional Muslim societies, conservatives like India's Deobandis were deeply suspicious of women's involvement...

Identifying Extremists

Depending then on how we define the radical movement, Europe today faces a serious danger from violent extremism rooted in radical Islamism. But terrorism is a broad-brush term covering quite different types of activity that demand quite distinct responses. Some movements like the IRA or ETA are deeply rooted in the community and command a degree of popular support. Other groups, in contrast, like those that undertook the Madrid or London bombings, need not necessarily have had any connections...

Making Militants

From the 1980s, Islamist ideas became ever more prominent among Middle Eastern radicals. The ascendancy of Islamist radicalism can be dated precisely to the year 1979, with the revolution in Iran and the war in Afghanistan. Iranian events inspired Muslim and particularly Shi'ite groups across the region. Under this impetus, the Shi'ite Lebanese Hizbollah became one of the most determined and effective international terror movements, which carried out devastating bomb attacks in Spain and...

All for to Fight

When Christians and Muslims meet in contemporary Europe, both sides carry a great deal of historical baggage, whether or not they recognize it consciously. A beloved fixture of English rural folk custom is the Mumming play, a semi-pagan ritual drama in which light and darkness struggle. After the appearance of the heroic King George, there enters his sworn enemy, who announces Just come from these turkey lands all for to fight. His introduction recalls a time when the Turkish Knight now, the...

Reshaping Christianity

People define themselves by considering what they are not. The very concept of Europe as a cultural rather than geographical expression emerged in the eighth century, during the conflicts between us Latin Christian Europeans and them, namely, African and Asian Muslims. The battle of Poitiers in 732 was hailed as a victory for the Europenses, then a novel description for the people of Latin Europe. In the contemporary world too, the proximity of other religions will reshape European ideas, and...

The Great Division

Yet for all the obvious forces pushing European Christians toward a rapprochement with Islam, the potential divisions are still daunting. Given its dominant position within European Christianity, the attitudes of the Roman Catholic Church are critical for future interactions between the faiths. Both at the Vatican level and within individual nations, we can see a continuing conflict between very different attitudes to Islam. Under John Paul II, the church demonstrated a real openness to Muslims...

Paths to Terror

Combating terrorism would be much easier if the menace came from one unified network with a single cause, allowing authorities to infiltrate networks, to hunt down militants, and to stem sources of arms and money. In fact, for all we have heard in recent years about the threat from al-Qaeda, many of the most notorious attacks have been the work of autonomous or independent local groups only marginally connected with any central organization. Perhaps surprisingly, the Madrid train bombings of...

The Quest for Moderates

A primary reason for acknowledging the power of religious organizations is to curb the appeal of radicalism and to bolster moderates. In practice, though, these goals have proved elusive, as religious organizations and national federations remain dominated by representatives of a hard-line, conservative Islam. European governments thus give a kind of established status to the kind of Islam associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and its south Asian counterparts, a strand of the religion that is...

Ultras

Our words are dead until we give them life with our blood. . Your democratically elected governments continually perpetrate atrocities against my people all over the world. Your support makes you directly responsible. We are at war and I am a soldier. Now you too will taste the reality of this situation. We know of New York, we know of Madrid, we know of London and the widespread slaughter of innocent people. There have been streams of tears, rivers of blood, innocent blood. Death in the...

The United States versus Europe

Over the past few years, I have on several occasions talked with well-informed Europeans who are baffled by U.S. concerns over immigration and border control. While not dismissing the problem entirely, they believe that Americans faced nothing as severe as Europe's difficulties because of the nature of the would-be migrants. More than once, I have heard the envious remark that the United States has only to cope with Mexicans, while the Netherlands (or Denmark, or France, as the case may be) has...

The Empires Come Home

The historical experience also helps explain the Islamic presence in modern Europe. After the destruction of Ottoman power in Europe in the early twentieth century, Muslim populations were small and isolated. Apart from old-established communities in Balkan regions like Albania and Bosnia, Muslims could be found in some larger seaports of west European nations, in cities like London, Cardiff, and Marseille. The Muslim presence remained small until the 1950s, when western Europe was booming...

Transforming Faith

Perhaps God is using the Muslims to bang our Christian heads together. Unless the liberal state is engaged in a continuing dialogue with the religious community, it loses its essential liberalism. Europeans of most political shades would now admit that they face a Muslim Problem, in the sense of deciding how to deal with social, cultural, and political views that seem barely compatible with those of the liberal mainstream. Yet perhaps the issue is not so much a Muslim problem as a religion...

Responding

Given the scale of the extremist danger, it is remarkable that many European states have not responded more forcefully to militant recruitment and organization. Tolerance has been particularly marked in Great Britain, which has become a global center of Islamist activism. Not until the Finsbury Park mosque operated for some years as a reasonable facsimile of an Afghan jihadi training camp did British police finally intervene. Britain has also been extremely hospitable to leading activists who...

Generation of Terror

Watching the sudden upsurge of religious-motivated terrorism in Europe in 2004-2005, American media in particular often suggested that outbreaks of this sort represented a radical departure from previous tranquility, that European governments were facing a wholly new reality. A worldwide jihad movement seemed to have arrived on Europe's shores more or less overnight, presumably imported by the continent's new migrants. In reality, Islamist attacks admittedly on a smaller scale had been in...

The Movements and Their Enemies

For all their successes, the various movements have been subject to charges of bizarre and cult-like behavior that press the limits of Catholic orthodoxy. These charges have been thoroughly presented in Gordon Urquhart's expos titled The Pope's Armada. Urquhart, himself a disaffected Focolare member, describes a subculture of fanatical personality cults surrounding the charismatic leaders demands of blind obedience on members a rigid and highly secretive internal hierarchy the use of mind...

Defining Muslims

Like other writers on contemporary Europe, I have repeatedly used the word Muslim, but in this context more than most, the term demands greater precision. Normally, when discussing the social problems facing modern France or Italy, the word Muslim is actually shorthand for a member of ethnic communities established in Europe in the second half of the twentieth century, and drawn from African or Asian nations where Islam represents the default religion. To say that Muslims in this broad sense...

Ecclesial Movements

Another aspect of reform, then as now, was the foundation of new religious orders pledged to the defense and expansion of the faith. In a famous passage, the nineteenth-century Lord Macaulay admired the resilience of the Roman Catholic Church, which may still exist in undiminished vigor when some traveler from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's. Explaining this resilience, Macaulay stressed how...

The Old New Religion

For its young followers, the new Islam is anything but new it is the purest and most pristine old-time religion as preached in the deserts of Arabia 1,300 years ago. Yet although radicals presented themselves as returning to the authentic spirit of Islam, the message they offered was in fact modern and globalized both in form and content. In Europe, radicals gained influence because they spoke, literally, in the same language as their young hearers, which was usually the local vernacular,...

Minority Solutions

Outside the Roman Catholic Church, too, other Christian bodies have offered imaginative responses to the prospect of Christian decline and minority status. In some ways, they are unconsciously following the fashionable management theory proposed by Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad, who warned that organizations with a dominant share of the market tended to become smug. In order to compete, companies, and presumably churches, need to focus on their areas of core competence, identifying what they do...

Black Thing

Not for many years have immigrants and missionaries been so pivotal to European Christianity. In England, for instance, the conversion in the seventh century was largely the work of Mediterranean missionaries. Though most were Italian, at least one was a north African, the Abbot Hadrian, who did so much to establish Canterbury's tradition of learning. At York in 627, the Italian bishop Paulinus baptized the region's most powerful pagan king. For the historically inclined, these precedents came...

Alpha

The unpleasant publicity accorded to British evangelicals gave a distorted picture of their major interests, religious and social, and made them appear extreme and even fanatical. A more positive contribution is the famous Alpha Course created at Holy Trinity, Brompton, in the early 1980s, and subsequently popularized through the work of the Reverend Nicky Gumbel. Like the new Catholic movements, the Alpha Course is designed for a society in which Christians possess minority status and can...

Hizb utTahrir

Another controversial da'waist movement active across Europe is the Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Party of Liberation), HT. Some view HT as an outlet for radical Islamist sentiments but nevertheless a legitimate political party that gives voice to popular feelings that would otherwise be channeled into openly subversive activities. Critics see the Hizb itself as a thin cover for radical recruitment and organization.13 Hizb ut-Tahrir was founded in Jerusalem in 1953 with the avowed goal of...

Tolerating Intolerance

Viewing Europe's Muslim communities in ethnic or racial terms was certainly not foolish in its own right, especially since it avoided applying the blanket religious label to such very diverse communities. And as we have seen, an ethnic approach works well in explaining recent riots and disorders. In practice, though, the American analogy encouraged a multicultural model, in which the state acknowledges group identities, and recognizes and celebrates diversity, allowing a generous latitude in...

Blasphemy

The evangelism issue is above all a matter of consistency. It is scarcely reasonable for Muslim publications to boast at length of the number of converts to that faith while demanding laws that would make Christian missions more difficult. Equally, protections extended to Muslims should in theory apply to all other faiths, yet presently, they are not. If they were, this would be one area where Christians would actually gain more rights than they have presently. This is especially true in terms...

Religion and Race

Historian Sir John Seeley once complained that the British won their global empire in a fit of absence of mind, and that phrase offers a fair description of the process by which contemporary Europe acquired its multifaith character. Few European states gave much thought to the religious diversity they were creating through immigration. Some countries agonized over the racial dilemmas they might be facing, particularly when immigration debates coincided with the fierce race rioting in U.S....

Religion and Mobility

We must then look elsewhere for the dramatic and continuing differences in religious behavior that separate modern Europe and the United States. One distinguishing feature is America's constant history of immigration, and the ethnic diversification that accumulates over time. When people move to a new country, they form institutions that allow them to combine together for mutual support and to help them share and transmit the values of their familiar societies. Commonly, the most important such...

Gay Rights

Issues of women's rights illustrate the dilemma of how far European societies should, in effect, tolerate the intolerant. The same problem emerges starkly in the area of homosexuality, which we have already seen as marking a critical division between the values of a secular, liberal society and most traditional concepts of Christianity. In such controversies, mainstream media and political figures are generally prepared to make few concessions to Christian opinions, but attitudes are somewhat...

Two Paths

In contemplating such a benevolent scenario, a U.S. analogy comes to mind. A hundred years ago, Protestant Americans were deeply concerned about the cultural and religious implications of mass immigration, and the rhetoric of the time had many resemblances to contemporary warnings about the rise of European Islam. Then as now, immigrants were believed to pose a direct threat of revolution and subversion. In addition to the customary charges derived from anti-Semitic tradition, America's new...

Imperial Encounters

Only in the second half of the eighteenth century did the balance of power between Christian Europe and the Muslim world shift. In 1757, British forces in India defeated the most important Muslim warlords on the subcontinent, while Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798 marks the beginning of the Muslim encounter with modernity. In the early nineteenth century too, the Greek revolt became a focus for romantic enthusiasm across western Europe. Between 1800 and 1914, European powers conquered and...

The Church with All Its Lights On

Other groups trace their origin to the charismatic movement, which grew in parallel with the Pentecostal and charismatic movements within Protestantism. Counting Catholics and Protestants together, the numbers are impressive, especially when we compare them with the Muslim population that has received so much media attention in recent years roughly, Europe's evangelicals, charismatics, and pentecostals outnumber Muslims by almost two to one, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future...

Immigrant Christians

Some immigrant communities are numerous and influential. The impact is most clearly marked in Great Britain, which from the late 1940s onward drew heavily on Caribbean labor. Readers of Zadie Smith's White Teeth will recall the pervasive religiosity and apocalyptic tone that pervades description of London's Jamaican world of the 1970s in a Jehovah's Witness family. Caribbean ethnic groups are prominent in enthusiastic sects like the Witnesses and the Seventh Day Adventists, and Adventist...

New Europeans

Given its history of empire and mission, France not surprisingly has an immigrant Christian presence, among Protestants as well as Catholics. The nation has around 1.1 million Protestants, just 2.2 percent of the population, but that figure includes the most active and enthusiastic charismatics, many of global South origins. Two-thirds of the country's Protestants are Reformed or Lutheran, old-stock churches with deep historic roots John Calvin was himself a Frenchman. In recent years, though,...

AlMuhajiroun

The British section of Hizb ut-Tahrir was founded by Omar Bakri Mohammed, who personifies contemporary European dilemmas about the limits of free speech and the boundaries between militant politics and outright sedition. Originally of Syrian birth, Bakri arrived in Britain in the late 1980s and soon acquired a reputation for sensational statements. Through the 1990s, the Tottenham Ayatollah called for stoning to death those guilty of homosexuality, adultery, fornication, and bestiality and for...

The End of the Chain

Declining religious participation coincides neatly with the trend to much smaller families, though we can argue about the exact relationship between empty pews and empty cradles. One recent study stresses the wide-ranging social effects of the decline in vocations, and especially the shrinking cohort of nuns. According to this argument, fewer school and parish activities, fewer social services, and less of a Catholic support network meant that young couples faced much higher shadow costs in...

Gangsters

Contemporary forms of youth culture illustrate the strength of racial and ethnic grievances, more than religious ones. During the 1980s, new forms of youth culture spread among Europe's ethnic communities, including Muslims but also African and Asian ethnic groups from other traditions. As with Muslims, disaffection was particularly strong among the second generation, who had been born in European nations but who felt alienated from the host societies. These cultures were not necessarily...

Missionaries

In terms of deliberate missionary work, Great Britain today plays host to some 1500 missionaries from 50 nations. Many come from African countries, and these are shocked at the spiritual desert they encounter in this green and pagan land. Often, too, missionaries have a sense of repaying obligations, in recalling the Europeans who originally converted their lands. Korean missionaries return to England in tribute to the land of John Wesley. Matthew Ashimolowo sees London as a city which sent...

Recessional

A local analogy might help Americans to understand the extent of the crisis. Just imagine that in the United States, Christianity was represented almost exclusively by the liberal mainline churches Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal, Congregational, and the rest, and no other bodies existed to compensate for their shrinking membership or attendance figures. In such circumstances, it would be tempting to graph the accumulating statistics of decline to determine just when, in a few decades, the sole...

Jews and Zionists

Across Europe too, Jewish issues emerge consistently as a basis for Muslim grievances and also for a critical dividing marker between old-and new-stock populations. After Europe's own horrendous experiences with anti-Semitism, few Europeans apart from the most extreme ultra-rightists have any sympathy whatever for anti-Jewish views or conspiracy theories. In most countries, such expressions would be designated as hate speech and thus subject to severe penal sanctions.42 Europe's Muslims usually...

The Limits of Morality

In the aftermath of recent terrorist violence, European leaders have shown themselves much more determined than hitherto to define and defend their values, the core contract of tolerant democratic societies, and to resist subversion by Islamist extremists operating through religious institutions. Radical imams have been prosecuted or deported, some countries exercise surveillance over sermons, and Germany is considering demands that preachers use German, rather than Arabic or Turkish. Some...

Catholic Crisis

Across western Europe, religious nonparticipation is now marked among Roman Catholics, who until fairly recently maintained a high level of practice. In theory, of the ten nations with the largest Catholic Table 2.1 The World's Largest Catholic Communities Table 2.1 The World's Largest Catholic Communities Source Source populations, no less than four are European, namely France, Spain, Italy, and Poland (see Table 2.1). Yet figures for regular church attendance must raise questions about the...

Time Travelers

What initially appear as some of the most extreme cultural conflicts in gender matters should not be read so pessimistically as tokens of an irreconcilable clash of civilizations. Even under the most liberal interpretation of multiculturalism, nobody can defend some of the recent manifestations of abuse and violence committed by some Muslims in the West or the underlying attitudes to women's inferiority that they imply. Still, these offenses rape, honor killing, or domestic brutality are not...

Making Londonistan

London has a number of such overtly radical institutions. Most notorious is the North London Central Mosque in Finsbury Park, which was for several years a favorite destination for Islamic extremists worldwide. Among the firebrand preachers here was the Egyptian Abu Hamza al-Masri, who fought with the mujaheddin in Afghanistan and in Britain worked as a nightclub bouncer. Within Britain, he founded in 1994 the extremist Supporters of Shariah (SOS), which organized military training for young...

The Christian Muslim Encounter

Quite apart from such a possible catastrophe, the substantial presence of Islam within Europe promises to change Christian thought and belief in many ways. For two centuries, many of the intellectual debates within European Christianity have been shaped by the encounter with secularism and skepticism, as Christians attempted to make their faith credible and relevant in the face of modernity. But what happens when the main interlocutors in religious debate operate from assumptions quite...

Europes Failure

In his powerful book The Cube and the Cathedral, George Weigel uses Europe as an awful warning for the United States, a disturbing object lesson in how Christianity dies, and the destructive effects of secularism. A Godless Europe, he argues, may for a few years appear pleasantly tolerant and nonjudgmental, but without commitment to faith and family, evaporating moral standards and plummeting birth rates create a society that is literally unsustainable. A society that rejects the supernatural...

Islamic Politics and Political Islam

Traditionalist religious attitudes did not necessarily have political consequences. Well into the 1980s, European Muslim leaderships were politically quietist. Most Muslims accepted their status as immigrants or transients who could reasonably expect to return some day to their home countries. Significantly, the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973 evoked little activism among Europe's immigrant populations. Meanwhile, ordinary immigrants were generally to the left, inevitably, since it was the...

Reforming Islam

Extremism in European Islam owes much to globalization, in the sense of new media, wider access to news and information, and much greater opportunities to travel and communicate, to explore alternative ideas. Yet exactly the same forces have inspired Muslim reformers, who see heady prospects in Europe's intellectual freedom and whose ideas are transmitted back to the Muslim nations. Europe serves for the Muslim world the same role that the Netherlands did for Europe's Christian societies during...

Crime and Injustice

Across Europe, youth grievances focus on the police and the criminal justice system. From the 1980s onward, poverty and desperation led to rapidly rising crime against persons and property, which in turn encouraged white hostility against ethnic communities, Muslims and others. In turn, hard-nosed policing turned young city dwellers against authority, bolstering a sense of street solidarity. Encouraging a perception of official racism, Muslim officers are seriously underrepresented in most of...

The Limits of Secularization

For the sake of argument, let us assume that secularization is indeed closely connected with social and economic modernization, and especially with the changes in gender attitudes wrought by those processes. From some perspectives at least, it is a deeply optimistic idea, since it assumes that recent immigrants, especially Muslims, will experience the same collapse of religious fervor when exposed to European culture and society, and that present signs of militancy or extremism represent a...

Diasporic Faith

Apart from their ethnic character, Europe's immigrant Christians are set apart from the old-stock population by many aspects of belief and practice. Whatever the denomination, global South Christian churches usually have a powerful charismatic quality, a belief in miracles, healings, and visions. Christians, like Muslims, are also fundamentalist in the generic Western liberal sense, that is, they tend to take religious texts very seriously and believe they should shape and transform everyday...

New Frankenstein Religion

Looking at the often depressing state of older churches, one might think that white Europeans would be overjoyed to see new signs of Christian growth, specially when this is associated with young and active populations. To a remarkable extent, though, recent controversies suggest real suspicion of the immigrant churches, which media and policy makers regard almost as an alien cult. In European history, the words New Christian carry grim implications, referring as it does to those Jews who were...

The Limits of Evangelism

In other matters too, applying policies designed to respond to Muslims produces potential conflicts between other religious believers and the state. One pending legal crisis concerns religious evangelism and conversion. If European states preach complete freedom of religion, then states should claim no role whatever in decisions to change religion or attempts to promote such conversions. But of its nature, evangelism or proselytizing usually means asserting the superiority of one religious...

The Mosque Militarist

European governments find it understandably hard to distinguish between windy rhetoric and serious subversion, but in some notorious examples, radicalism has gone beyond the acceptable bounds of free political speech, even according to the most permissive definition. Banning a group like the Hizb ut-Tahrir places some strains on Western traditions of tolerance, but at least the group presents itself as a political organization, a hizb or party. The Muhajiroun, similarly, can easily be...

Toward Orthodoxy

For many reasons, then, we might expect European Islam to be wildly diverse in practice and often heterodox and quite resistant to pleas for uniformity of any kind, least of all for anything partaking of Saudi norms. In theory, one of the first results of Wahhabi dominance in a community would be the prohibition or exclusion of Sufi activities and the introduction of stern sanctions against Alevis, Ahmadiyyas, and other deviants. Russian scholars note the open struggle in their country between...

Free Speech and Hate Speech

Together with several related conflicts, the cartoon war has suggested a sharp conflict between basic liberties, between free speech and the right to exercise one's religion. A revival of blasphemy laws faced the difficulty that the offense sounded so archaic, but other efforts to limit speech used much more current justifications. In the name of preventing hate speech against particular religions, European states have extended laws originally intended to fight incitement to violence, and have...

Shades of Islam

We cannot speak without qualification of a European Muslim, as if such a generic individual was easy to find. After all, when we speak of Europe's Christians, we are including Dutch Calvinists and Sicilian Catholics, Romanian Orthodox and English Quakers. Muslims worldwide are almost as diverse in their styles of belief and practice. Islam, similarly, has over the past 1,400 years acquired quite different characters in different lands, and there are Moroccan Muslims, Turkish Muslims, Nigerian...

Islam as Counterculture

Once Islam was on the agenda, the main issue was to determine which form of the religion was likely to gain most support. For Muslims, as for immigrant Christians, authoritarian, charismatic, and demanding styles appeal to a particular market, namely, adolescents and young adults, commonly suffering from multiple social deprivation and moreover observing gender roles in the process of rapid transition. At a time of social upheaval and chaos, rigid forms of Islam offer an island of stability and...

Catholic Revival

For Pope John Paul, the changed position of Catholicism in a secular modern world demanded a New Evangelization, a phrase that became almost the slogan of his papacy. Sobered by the church's numerical decline, Catholics needed to become missionaries not just to what was long seen as the non-Christian world in Africa or Asia, but to those notionally Christian territories now falling prey to what Ratzinger called the dictatorship of relativism. Arguably, Ratzinger's election as pope in 2005...

Scarf Wars

The symbolic meanings attached to women's dress help explain the critical importance of the headscarf, which in recent years has become a key marker of religious and cultural difference. Once again, we see the importance of the year 1989 in symbolizing a new upsurge of Islamic militancy, a new self-confidence and willingness to engage in confrontational protests. Apart from the Rushdie protests in several nations, this was also the time when the principal of a secondary school at Creil, near...

Believing and Belonging

Besides the hard core of acknowledged believers, millions more who might not set foot inside a church except for baptisms, weddings, and funerals definitely refer to themselves as Christian (see Table 3.1). Even in England, 72 percent describe themselves to census-takers as Christian, an impressive 35 million people. The European Values Survey shows quite high levels of acceptance of supernatural belief among those who are barely affiliated with any Christian denomination, and Table 3.1...

Faithful Women

Of course, there is no simplistic divide between radical secular-minded feminists and faithful Muslim women the former are not whores nor are the latter doormats. Indeed, some of the most impressive representatives for Islamic organizations across the continent are themselves women, who sometimes hold senior rank in these groupings. In Spain, where white European converts are prominent in Muslim groups, we find leaders like Jadicha Candela, founder of the women's network al-Nisa, who retains...

In Search of Europe

Across the political spectrum, then, a diverse range of activists find it in their rhetorical interests to stress the inevitable coming of an Islami-cized Europe, sooner rather than later, and to present matters in the grimmest possible terms. They foresee ruinous religious violence, with Muslim minorities set against secular states and Muslim communities against Christian or Jewish neighbors. Yet although it may be approaching the status of a truth universally acknowledged, the vision of a...

Anglicans

This kind of innovation is not surprising when we consider the substantial intellectual and spiritual resources available to the mainstream churches. Even his most severe critics acknowledge that Pope Benedict XVI possesses as powerful an intellect as any predecessor for centuries past. And however sick the Church of England might be in its attendance levels, its leadership still includes figures as distinguished as any in its history. Since 2002, the Archbishop of Canterbury has been Rowan...

The Golden Age of Pilgrimage

The continuing popularity of pilgrimages also refutes simple claims that European Christianity is dead. Now, critics might question the kind of faith that such pilgrimages demonstrate, and both Protestants and many liberal Catholics are nervous about the theological content of a Marian healing shrine. But if we regard the pilgrimages to Mecca or Varanasi as symbols of the passionate faith of Muslims or Hindus, then we should treat Christian expressions with equal respect. The world's largest...

Explaining Secularization

Other factors, though, contributed mightily to the decline of religion, apparently making Europe a wonderful model of secularization theory in action. If these explanations are correct, this would have dramatic implications for the fate of other religions in that same environment, and particularly of Islam. Secularization theory portrays traditional institutional religions as fitting best in a premodern or prescientific setting dependent on agricultural production. Circumstances change when new...

Your Religion Tomorrow

If Europe were a woman, her biological clock would be rapidly running down. It is not too late to adopt more children, but they won't look like her. In 1989, the clerical regime of Iran issued a fatwa ordering the death of author Salman Rushdie for his allegedly blasphemous novel The Satanic Verses. In several European nations, the controversy spurred mass protests by Muslim residents hitherto known for their political quiescence. Some demonstrators carried placards reading Islam Our Religion...

Were Going to Outbirth

In 1938, Anglo-French author Hilaire Belloc wrote, The future always comes as a surprise, but political wisdom consists in attempting at least some partial judgment of what that surprise may be. And for my part I cannot but believe that a main unexpected thing of the future is the return of Islam. He continued, Millions of modern people of the white civilization that is, the civilization of Europe and America have forgotten all about Islam. They have never come in contact with it. They take for...