chapter  9
31 Pages

The concept of the Muslim enemy in the public discourse


Although immigrants of Muslim faith have been living in relevant numbers in Western Europe since the 1960s, it took notable events like the 1989 headscarf debate in France, the Rushdie affair of the same year, or the introduction of the new citizenship law in Germany in 2000 to identify Muslims as such in the public discourse. Researchers have described this development with the term New Islamic Presence.2 Nina Clara Tiesler speaks of an Islamization of debates and individuals, arguing that in a kind of “religious turn,” Islam was placed at the center of debates on regional, national, and European identities. Likewise, several researchers have noticed a shift from using the category “foreigners” to instead using the category “Muslims” both in public and academic discourse.3 Furthermore, in the German context, the relevance of debates on foreigners and immigrants has also been superseded by debates on Islam and Muslims.4 Religious terminology seems to have (at least partly) replaced ethnic terminology, which for so long served to negotiate, legitimate, and create social boundaries and order. For young Muslims, Islam may be used to disassociate from cultural traditions and ethnic identities in favor of developing a more European or German identity. They may even feel that their ethnicity is a hindrance to their identification as Europeans in a way that being a Muslim is not.5