chapter  2
Muslim Voices, European Ears: Exploring The Gap Between The Production Of Islamic Knowledge And Its Perception
Pages 19

Islam has, in the last decade, burst in upon the European public scene, as a topic of debate and especially as a hot issue on the political, cultural, social, religious, and academic agenda. This has happened for quite obvious reasons: the emergence of Islamic terrorism and security agendas connected to Islam at a global level, specifi cally affecting the West on the one hand, and various problems connected with the presence of Islamic populations in Europe on the other. What is less obvious, however, is that Islam, especially where it concerns the latter, is quite naturally considered as an object rather than a subject, an abstraction rather than an empirically analyzable phenomenon, a set of unvarying defi nitions rather than a group of living (and changing) populations. There exists an almost natural tendency to reify Islam, as we see occurring in most debates in the public sphere. And we tend to forget that the real issue is not Islam as such but rather Muslims, and in particular Muslims in Europe. The problems are about persons, not concepts or abstractions.