Closing the week 27 – Featuring Public Religion

Public Religion
Islam’s place in Europe – Global Public Square – CNN.com Blogs

The angry young men who chanted “God is Great” while battling police in the streets have reignited the ongoing debate over Islam’s place in Europe, a debate which has risen to the top of many politicians’ concerns. The German president said in a newspaper interview that while German Muslims clearly “belong” to the country, it is less clear whether or not Islam does.

But something arguably much more meaningful, if less newsworthy, took place days later. Groups representing hundreds of thousands of German Muslims condemned the violence and called on constituents to fulfill the civic duty of voting in regional elections that month.

BBC News – Austria celebrates ‘model’ law on Islam

Austria has had a checkered history when it comes to relations with Muslims, but its 100-year-old Law on Islam is seen as a symbol of tolerance.

Secularism: Its content and context « The Immanent Frame

In a paper written in the days immediately following the fatwa pronounced against Salman Rushdie, called “What is a Muslim?,” I had argued that secularism had no justification that did not appeal to substantive values, that is to say, values that some may hold and others may not. It was not justifiable on purely rational grounds that anyone (capable of rationality) would find convincing, no matter what substantive values they held. I had invoked the notion, coined by Bernard Williams as ‘internal reasons,’ to describe these kinds of grounds on which its justification is given. Internal reasons are reasons that rely on specific motives and values and commitments in the moral psychologies of individuals (or groups, if one takes the view that groups have moral-psychological economies). Internal reasons are contrasted with ‘external reasons,’ which are reasons that someone is supposed to have quite independent of his or her substantive values and commitments, that is, independent of elements in the psychologies that motivate people. Bernard Williams, recapitulating Humean arguments against Kantian forms of externalist rationality and the universalism that might be expected to emerge from it, had claimed that there are no such things as ‘external reasons.’ Whether that general claim is true or not, my more specific claim had been that there are no external reasons that would establish the truth of secularism. If secularism were to carry conviction, it would have to be on grounds that persuaded people by appealing to the specific and substantive values that figured in their specific moral psychological economies. Such a view might cause alarm in those who would wish for secularism a more universal basis. Internal reasons, by their nature, do not provide such a basis. As, I said, internal reasons for some conclusion that will persuade some people, may not persuade others of that conclusion, since those others may not hold the particular substantive values to which those reasons appeal and on which those reasons depend. Only external reasons could persuade everyone since all they require is a minimal rationality possessed by all (undamaged, adult) human minds and make no appeal to substantive values that may be variably held by human minds and psychologies. Alarming thought it might seem to some, there is no help for this. There are no more secure universal grounds on which one can base one’s argument for secularism.

Cooperating modernities in Tunisia?

In April, Columbia political scientist Alfred Stepan came out with an article in the Journal of Democracy on “Tunisia’s Transition and the Twin Tolerations.” If the article is right, Tunisia’s secularists and Islamists are participating in an encouraging pattern of political cooperation that bodes well for the country’s democratic development. There is good reason to be hopeful about the relevance of an emerging “Tunisian model” of secular-Islamist negotiation, not only for Tunisia’s future but for all those countries affected by the Arab Spring. Yet there is also reason for caution.

The “Muslim Kristallnacht” and a Swiss Twittergate

One of the more colorful Muslim figures in Switzerland making the media rounds the past few months is Aziz Osmanoglu of Basel, who was recently on trial for hate speech charges. The court case was based on Osmanoglu’s statements made to a Swiss TV show, which essentially added up to saying that it was “Sharia-compliant” to beat a recalcitrant wife if she refused to have sex. Specifically, he said, “A man needs sex. That is why he can, as a last resort, beat his wife if she refuses. If not, the man cheats and this is not wanted in Islam.” Strangely enough for Switzerland, the appeals court acquitted him, ruling that he was speaking personally; in other words, that he was acting in freedom of speech and not as a representative of the Muslim community.

While the court of appeals’ ruling is problematic enough, this story isn’t finished. Yesterday, in response to the court judgment, a tweet was posted, allegedly from SVP politician Alexander Muller (yes, from the same party that brought you the minaret vote), saying that “Maybe we need another Kristallnacht…this time for mosques.”

The “Muslim Kristallnacht” and a Swiss Twittergate

One of the more colorful Muslim figures in Switzerland making the media rounds the past few months is Aziz Osmanoglu of Basel, who was recently on trial for hate speech charges. The court case was based on Osmanoglu’s statements made to a Swiss TV show, which essentially added up to saying that it was “Sharia-compliant” to beat a recalcitrant wife if she refused to have sex. Specifically, he said, “A man needs sex. That is why he can, as a last resort, beat his wife if she refuses. If not, the man cheats and this is not wanted in Islam.” Strangely enough for Switzerland, the appeals court acquitted him, ruling that he was speaking personally; in other words, that he was acting in freedom of speech and not as a representative of the Muslim community.

While the court of appeals’ ruling is problematic enough, this story isn’t finished. Yesterday, in response to the court judgment, a tweet was posted, allegedly from SVP politician Alexander Muller (yes, from the same party that brought you the minaret vote), saying that “Maybe we need another Kristallnacht…this time for mosques.”

Fashion as Resistance: The Case of Mali

The article suggests that fashion is too “cool” for these Islamists, as they have taken the conservative approach in endorsing hijab and banning trousers for women. To some degree, the article portrays angry Islamists getting back at fashion designers and perhaps even women. Nonetheless, the issue may be a bit more complex than Yahoo! News analysis. The issue with fashion may be not its colors and uncovered arms, but what it represents. In an interview, designer Sidahmed Seidnaly, aka Alphadi and also known as the Magician of the Desert, expresses his discomfort with the situation in Mali and the push for Shari’ah law in the northern region. Similarly, designer Mariah Bocoum made her five-piece collection to represent the struggle of Malian people and as a way to resist the restrictions now imposed in Mali’s north.

Arts and Culture
Don’t Panik! Islam and Europe’s ‘Hip Hop Wars’ – Opinion – Al Jazeera English

French director Keira Maameri’s recently released documentary “Don’t Panik” – screened a few weeks ago at the Al Jazeera International Documentary Film Festival in Doha – offers Médine and five other rappers (from Sweden to Senegal) an opportunity tell their side of the story, and to reflect on how they are viewed as Muslim hip hop artists. “My track ‘Don’t Panik’ aims to bring communities together,” says Médine, referring to what has now become his signature track where he announces his multiple identities (ghetto-dweller, proletarian, Muslim, African) while telling listeners to stay calm. “[The song] denounces discrimination against youth in housing projects, the working class, Africans – and Muslims. Yet what do people remember? Muslims – that’s the only thing they remember.”

PBS Documentary Showcases Islam’s Contribution to Civilization

On Friday, July 6 at 9 p.m. EST, PBS will nationally broadcast a documentary titled, “Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World” narrated by Susan Sarandon. The documentary is a timely reminder about the many contributions made by Muslims to art and culture. As an educator, I am looking forward to this documentary as it adds to a growing collection of well-made documentaries that provide a semblance of balance to the general propensity in the media to stereotype Muslims.

Misc.
Muslims are well-integrated in Britain – but no one seems to believe it | Leon Moosavi | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

British Muslims often express a stronger sense of belonging than other citizens, so why are they still seen as outsiders?

New social movements and social change « Media and Social Change

These extracts from Wikipedia will be familiar territory to many readers of this blog, but I thought they could be a useful reminder of the connection between ‘new social movements’ theory and the pursuit of social change.

Reading: Talal Asad on “Islam,” Europe, and the civilizational shtick | Greased Cartridge

“If religion is often thought of as a major danger, “Islam” is often represented as a uniquely intractable instance of active religion in the modern world. In the modern world “religion”has-or at any rate, we believe that it should have-its proper appointed place. Islam, presented as a “religious civilization,” is a construct not only of the media but also of intellectual discourse. That is the discourse in which the rich and diverse history of Muslim societies across three continents and one-and-a-half millennia is reduced to the essential principles of a distinctive “religious civilization. ”

Is religion free? « The Immanent Frame

My second general comment is that however we want to define religion (and perhaps we could take a leaf from northern Madagascar and leave it open, specifying only what it is not), one of the general features, as the Malagasy ethnography also suggests, is a kind of submission to something conceived as larger, higher, or more powerful than oneself. Durkheim called it society; Maurice Bloch calls it deference to authority or to other persons; Roy Rappaport describes it as one of the entailments of engaging in ritual performance. In participating in a ritual, whatever one’s state of mind or ‘belief’ at the time, and irrespective of the semiotic ideology that Webb Keane rightly and compellingly points to, one is accepting the outcome (assuming that the felicity conditions of the performative event are met) and moreover accepting the meta-performativity, i.e. that acts and utterances of this kind, felicitously produced, have the consequences that they do. To perform a ritual is, in the end, to accept a certain liturgical order of which it is part (irrespective of whether this also entails deference to specific officials, like priests). In other words, the freedom to carry out certain kinds of acts is premised on subjection to an order that defines what such acts are, that puts things under a definition and regulates the changes in definition. As I elaborate elsewhere, the process is one of the instauration of ethical criteria and it is intrinsic to human speech acts. Insofar as what we refer to as specifically ‘religious’ includes the most formal and consequential kinds of performative acts (baptized or not, etc.) one might say that what religion is not is freedom.

Multiculturalism in Europe « The Immanent Frame

After the rise of multicultural policies in the 1980s and 1990s, the winds have shifted in Europe. Terrorist attacks in Madrid, London, Norway, and, most recently, in Toulouse, have furthered the securitization of Islam across Europe, while increasing immigration (predominantly from Muslim countries) has caused societal tensions. As a result, existing ideas concerning multiculturalism, religious pluralism, and national authenticity are being challenged. Past policies of cordon sanitaire are no longer in full effect, as mainstream political parties have come to adopt some of the ideas of their populist and right-wing peers; witness former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign rhetoric against immigration and Muslims following the strong showing by right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen.

We’ve invited a small handful of scholars to comment on the increasing influence of anti-immigration and anti-Islam ideas and parties across Europe and to offer their thoughts on how best to accommodate minority claims (especially those involving Islam) in a democratic and liberal Europe

Dutch
Timboektoe is meer dan verwoest erfgoed – De Standaard

De westerse media zijn er weer ingetrapt. Met de aandacht voor het vernielde erfgoed in Timboektoe hebben radicale moslims precies bereikt wat ze wilden: uitvergroting van hun belang en hun rol.

Wat volgens BAZ LECOCQ meer aandacht verdient, de miserabele situatie van de bevolking in Noord-Mali, blijft helaas onder de radar.

Wilders’ joodse, christelijke en anti-islamitische geldschieters « altahrir, news of Islam, Muslims

Dikke vrienden waren Geert Wilders en uittredend PVV-Kamerlid Wim Kortenoeven niet. Wilders is een ‘politieke klaploper’, zei Kortenoeven vandaag tijdens zijn persconferentie. De partijleider loopt volgens hem voortdurend ‘de deur plat bij joodse organisaties om te vragen om geld’. Wie zijn Wilders’ religieuze geldschieters eigenlijk

Sharia en de mentaliteit van de moslims « Badr Youyou

Een van de grote misverstanden die er gecreëerd worden over de sharia is namelijk het eerste waar de meeste mensen aan denken: het islamitische strafsysteem. Dit geldt voor zowel moslims als niet-moslims. Het beeld over de sharia is volledig verkleurd door het gedrag van een aantal groeperingen zoals Saoedi-Arabië, de Taliban, Iran en allerlei andere landen die het strafsysteem als eerste wat ze invoeren wanneer de sharia aangekondigd wordt. Wanneer het ontbreekt aan verdieping en een objectieve studie over de sharia, dan krijg je dit soort taferelen. Moslims die dan enkel aan het strafsysteem denken als ze het woord ‘sharia’ voorbij zien komen.

Moslims in Kenia bevechten terrorisme : Nieuwemoskee

Moslimorganisaties in Kenia hebben zich achter een wetsvoorstel geschaard om terrorisme in het Oost-Afrikaanse land te bestrijden, waarbij zij benadrukken dat terroristische acties tegen de islamitische leer in gaat. Zij steunen het wetsvoorstel en vinden het niet-discriminerend voor de moslimgemeenschap. Kenia telt 10 miljoen moslims op een totale populatie van 36 miljoen.

Islamkritiek helpt de positie van moslimvrouwen: Brendel en Dibi « George Knight

Dit verbond tussen Dibi en Brendel in hun zorg over de invloed van de radicale islam is nieuw. Het verbindt allochtonen met autochtonen en doorbreekt links-rechts tegenstellingen. De Roemeens-Nederlandse schrijfster Nausica Marbe voegt zich in een Volkskrant-column bij de kritiek op de ‘progressief wanende intellectuelen die het volk minachten die de sharia minachtend afwijzen’. Ze noemt oud NRC-hoofdredacteur Folkert Jensma en arabist Maurits Berger als ‘leunstoeldenkers’ die meisjes en vrouwen die lijden onder de sharia in de steek laten. Zo is Jensma weliswaar tegen een shariaraad, maar relativeert-ie de slechte positie van moslimvrouwen: ‘Huwelijksdwang is geen moslimmonopolie‘ en ziet-ie volop ruimte voor arbitrage.

Moslim mode spreekt het westen aan | MaxaFashion

Moslimmode is een van de hardst groeiende markten en volgens berichten goed voor zo’n 96 miljard pond (zo’n 119 miljard euro) per jaar. De Britse mode-industrie verbleekt daarbij met een waarde van 21 miljard pond. Ontwerpers proberen nu de Moslim klant tegemoet te komen met een meer conservatieve look.

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