Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in Europe today; it is already the second religion in Europe. There are at least thirteen million Muslims living in this area ranging from Portugal to Finland and from Ireland to Bulgaria. The sociological entity of these Muslims is very heterogeneous. On the one hand, European Muslims are from various origins: from Asia, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. On the other hand, Islam is characterized by the fragmentation of its beliefs and some people with a Muslim background are atheistic. Moreover, a huge majority of them have an immigrant background. Indeed, Muslims began to immigrate to Europe in large number after the Second World War so as to participate to the rebuilt of the war aftermath and also to the need of semiskilled and unskilled workers because of the economic boom. In the early 1970's with the economic recession, European countries gradually closed their borders. Although there were tougher laws limiting immigration, a second wave of immigration as family members occurred and it was precisely at that time that the status of Muslim people changed.
[...] Accommodation of Muslim religious practices and the two unique Church- State histories The French strict separation between the Church and the State has restricted Muslims' ability to fight for a religious public recognition Great Britain: the presence of an established Church has enabled Muslims to claim religious rights. Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in Europe today; it is already the second religion in Europe. There are at least thirteen million Muslims living in this area ranging from Portugal to Finland and from Ireland to Bulgaria. The sociological entity of these Muslims is very heterogeneous. [...]
[...] Finally, the theory of church-state institutions asserts that the development of public policies concerning Muslims' religious rights is significantly linked to the different institutional church-state features. In France, the state-church relations are crucial for the understanding of the little political accommodation to Muslims' rights and needs. Indeed, the idea of laïcité is central in all the public debates linked to the recognition of groups' religious rights in the public sphere. It shapes the whole debate about Islamic headscarves at school for example. [...]
[...] Muslims' religious needs in the educational field are treated differently in both countries. A good example of this difference of treatment is allowance for Muslim girls to wear Islamic headscarves or not. In France, this subject is the root of a long politico-cultural war known as the "veil affair". The first affair arose in 1989 when the principal of a public junior high school suspended three Muslim students for refusing to remove their hijab at school according to the French principle of laïcité. [...]
[...] As the government rejected many times their demands, they felt deprived of their civil rights. Moreover, having separate Muslim schools seem to be necessary for some Muslims in order to promote an Islamic way of life in a secular environment. As for the government (until 1997) attending such schools would have prevented students to assimilate in the British society. Finally, in 1997 the Labour government agreed to give state funding for Islamic schools, it recognized the legitimacy of Muslims' claims and managed to answer Muslims' religious and cultural needs. [...]
[...] The English model seems to lead to communautarianism and the French one to ethnic-exclusivism Bibliography ▪ANWAR Muhammad, Muslims in Western Europe, in Jorgen S. Nielsen, Religion and citizenship in Europe and in the Arab World, Grey Seal ▪BLEICH Erik, From International Ideas to Domestic Politics: Educational Multiculturalism in France and Great Britain, in Comparative Politics ▪BOWEN John, Why the French don't like Headscarves: Islam, the State and Public Space, Princeton University Press ▪FAVELL Adrian, Philosophies of Integration: Immigration and the Idea of Citizenship in France and Britain, MacMillan ▪FETZER & SOPER, Muslims and the State in Britain, France and Germany, Cambridge University Press ▪HAARSCHER Guy, La laïcité, PUF ▪HALSTEAD J. [...]
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