The Secularity of the State and the Shaping of Muslim Representative Organizations in Western Europe
The establishing of Muslim representative organizations is a fundamental step towards the development of an Islamic community in Europe that is able to establish a fruitful relationship of cooperation with the political and social institutions of nation-states. The multiplicity of cultural traditions and historical experiences that constitute Europe itself are very much reflected in the variety of attempts that have been made to achieve such an objective. However, even the most convinced supporters of the need to respect national diversity also feel the need to identify, more precisely, the contexts within which an institutionalized European Islam can find its place. The notion of the secularity of the state is at the centre of this consideration. This chapter begins with the identification of some of the secular state's fundamental features, continues with a description of the initiatives taken in some European countries to provide a more precise legal status to Muslim communities, and concludes with some observations aimed at defining the limits within which public administrations can accompany this process.