ABSTRACT

The accommodation of ethno-religious diversity, the integration of Muslims, and issues of ‘entrenched differences’ between Muslims and the wider community have become a significant challenge in western societies (Nesbitt-Larking 2008: 351, Wise and Ali 2008). Fear, anxiety, and mistrust of Islam and its value system often stimulate questions of political loyalty and allegiance as well as negative public perceptions of Muslims (Ramadan 2004, Cesari 2005b, Meer and Modood 2009). These anti-Muslim perceptions are exacerbated by ongoing security risks associated with radical Islamist groups since 9/11, government policies that tightly link domestic issues of immigration and national security to the international fight against terrorism, and opinion leaders who unashamedly express their aversion to Islam. Following such reactions to the ‘new visibility’ (Zwartz 2009: 4) of Islam in the West, this chapter will explore how Muslims in positions of leadership in Paris and Melbourne engage in practices to negotiate ethno-religious diversity and engender ‘new sources of self’ (van der Veer 2002: 105). These practices affirm rights to belong, dispel cultural stereotypes, and demonstrate their ability to ‘talk back’ to local government. Given the arrival of Muslim migrants from developing countries experiencing economic difficulties and political instability, as well as the increase in French and Australian-born Muslims, practices of ethno-religious negotiation are timely and relevant for understanding how everyday life offers opportunities for claiming rights to the city.