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...

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...

The War of the Mosques

Over the past quarter century, European Islam has witnessed freewheeling debates over the nature of Islam and particularly its political role, controversies in which radicals made quite outrageous demands, often using bloodthirsty and apocalyptic rhetoric. Usually, too, such fiery words have come from mosques and from religious leaders, who present warfare and religious intolerance as integral parts of faith. Often, the most extreme views are heard from foreign-born imams who do not hold...

The Halimi Murder

Few observers of contemporary Europe would doubt that many young people of Muslim origin are deeply alienated and often angry, and that a sizable number show themselves sympathetic to radical agitation. Western Europe may indeed have a social and political crisis on its hands. But we need to be cautious about making a further leap, in assuming that violent actions by the Muslim young necessarily have religious or extremist motivations. In some cases, young Muslims do adopt the hard-line...

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...