Blaming Islam

Blaming Islam

John R. Bowen
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 144
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  • Book Info
    Blaming Islam
    Book Description:

    In the United States and in Europe, politicians, activists, and even some scholars argue that Islam is incompatible with Western values and that we put ourselves at risk if we believe that Muslim immigrants can integrate into our society. Norway's Anders Behring Breivik took this argument to its extreme and murderous conclusion in July 2011. Meanwhile in the United States, state legislatures' efforts to ban the practice of Islamic law, or sharia, are gathering steam--despite a notable lack of evidence that sharia poses any real threat.In Blaming Islam, John Bowen uncovers the myths about Islam and Muslim integration into Western society, with a focus on the histories, policy, and rhetoric associated with Muslim immigration in Europe, the British experiment with sharia law for Muslim domestic disputes, and the claims of European and American writers that Islam threatens the West. Most important, he shows how exaggerated fears about Muslims misread history, misunderstand multiculturalism's aims, and reveal the opportunism of right wing parties who draw populist support by blaming Islam.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-30185-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: Finding an Enemy
    (pp. 1-14)

    At any one moment in Western history, some people have been targeted for broad-based hatred: Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Africans, Slavs, Gypsies, homosexuals, and, unfortunately, so forth. Today the primary targets of hate are Muslims. Why there need be targets is beyond the scope of this book, although Freud had something to say on the subject, as did the Frankfurt theorists. Anthropologists have pointed to ways human societies work by opposition, often bipolar opposition, us versus them, on scales ranging from feuding tribes to warring nation-states.

    When a particular narrative of us versus them circulates widely, it can be used to...

  5. 1 Europeans Against Multiculturalism
    (pp. 15-44)

    Misreading the recent past seems to be an election strategy shared by a number of leading European politicians. The far right is gathering strength across Europe, and, in efforts to capture its supporters, some center-right leaders are blaming the supposed multicultural policies of the past for a range of current ills. German Chancellor Angela Merkel led off in October 2010 by claiming that multiculturalism “has failed and failed utterly.” She was echoed the following February by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron. All three were late to the game, though: for years, the Dutch right has...

  6. 2 Misreading Muslim Immigration
    (pp. 45-68)

    The critiques of multiculturalism are generally polite. Quite different is the body of work decrying Islam. If you wish to read a book along these lines in Europe, you have many to choose from. The dominant style on the continent is the memoir that recounts the horrific experiences of a Muslim (or formerly Muslim) woman in her Islamic milieu.InfidelandThe Caged Virgin, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, are the most familiar in this genre. The best-selling French titles speak for themselves:Dishonored; Mutilated; The Sold Ones and The Fatiha(both on forced marriages);Disfigured; Souad, Burned Alive;andLatya,...

  7. 3 Sharia Is Not the Law in England
    (pp. 69-96)

    In 2010 naseera, a muslim woman, approached a religious teacher near her London home. She wished to divorce her husband. She had grown up in England but married her cousin in Pakistan, a union arranged by their parents. They moved to England and later separated. Naseera was planning to file for a legal divorce in court, but she also wanted proof that she was divorced religiously in case she wished to remarry. The teacher referred her to London’s Islamic Sharia Council, and in 2011, at one of their monthly meetings at the Regent’s Park Mosque, the six Islamic scholars sitting...

  8. 4 Off-Target: U.S. Anti-Sharia Campaigns
    (pp. 97-110)

    Since november 2010 legislators in twenty or so states have passed or proposed bills banning sharia.¹ Oklahoma led the charge when voters massively supported a state constitutional amendment banning state courts from “considering or using” either international law or sharia law. State Representative Rex Duncan said he was motivated to sponsor the measure—which was put on hold by a federal judge until hearings could be held on its constitutionality—after learning of a New Jersey judge who enforced sharia and because of the “cancer” of sharia spreading in Britain. He added, “There is no logical reason why a court...

  9. Afterword: Principles and Pragmatics
    (pp. 111-116)

    Underneath the rhetoric of Islam-bashing and sharia scares, we see everyday sanity. The confrontations in Murfreesboro betrayed ignorance and fear, but they also brought out non-Muslims who defended the rights of Muslims to exercise religious freedom. These ordinary Americans defended the Constitution and argued the practical case for allowing local Muslims a larger mosque.

    In France, Germany, and Britain, politicians publicly pretend that multiculturalism caused current social ills, but at the same time, most also seek workable solutions to real problems: finding new spaces for prayer (France), trying to get rival Muslim factions to talk (Germany), encouraging the mosques to...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 117-122)
    (pp. 123-123)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 124-125)