chapter  3
14 Pages

Islam, Secularism and Multiculturalism After 9/11: A Transatlantic Comparison

One common element of mainstream discourse on Islam in the post-9111 world has been the constant correlation between Islam as a religion and Islam as a factor in political violence. One of the effects of this correlation can be seen in the acts of aggression against Muslims in both the United States and Europe. This continued conflation of international politics with issues of Muslim immigration demonstrates the persistence of an essentializing of both Islam and its practitioners. Developed over several centuries of confrontation between the Muslim and European worlds (Daniel, 1960; Said, 1978; Cesari, 1997), such an attitude is far from dead, it seems. Indeed, it is striking how the idea of Islam as an international 'risk factor', current since the 1980s, is bolstered by centuries-old representations of Islam that would be familiar in the eighteenth century or even earlier. The same fixed ideas of Islam as an inherently violent and fanatical religion are continually re-invoked and readjusted to fit changes in international and domestic situations.