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Individualization and Institutionalization of Islam in Europe in the Age of Securitization

This article discusses a new social and political phenomenon in Europe, which has become evident along with the visibility of Islam in the European public space. Revealing the current social-political context in Western Europe, which is mainly characterized by a growing drift of securitization of Islam and migration, this paper argues that there are two simultaneously running processes regarding the changing nature of Euro-Islam, which seem to are antithetical: individualization of Islam vs. institutionalization of Islam. Drawing upon the findings of the field research in Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, this article shows that while the processes of globalization seem to prompt younger generations with Muslim background to liberate themselves from the constraints of their patriarchal parental and community culture, western states as well as ethno-cultural and religious brokers tend to reify, or reinforce, their existing communal and religious boundaries. That is to say that the descendants of migrants seem to have been squeezed between individualization and institutionalization of Islam.

Individualization and Institutionalization of Islam in Europe in the Age
Recent debates in EU countries reveal that the European form of secularism is not yet equipped to accommodate Islam, which has recently become very visible in the public space.

A young French-Turkish veiled woman testifies that she successfully learned to play with her multiple identities: “When I was a child I was feeling more Turkish although I had several French peers. As I became older my French identity has become more visible in the public space. Lately I have discovered another part of my identity, i.e., Islam. I have a triple identity now. And the good thing is that I can live with all those three, and I don’t have to choose any of them.”1 Migration brings about new openings, encounters, bridges, doors and windows, but it may also become an attractive form of governmentality to be employed by the conservative political elite. Migration has recently been framed as a source of fear and instability for the nation-states in the West, though it was rather a source of content and happiness for both the receiving countries and the immigrants in the 1960s. What has changed in the meantime? Why is this shift in the framing of migration? Several different reasons like deindustrialization, rising productivity, unemployment, poverty and a neo-liberal political economy can be enumerated to answer such questions. This work is an attempt to answer these questions with a particular reference to a qualitative and quantitative work that I conducted about the Euro-Turks living in Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.2 Against this background, the main emphasis of the article will be to address a contemporary issue in Western Europe: the exposure of two antithetical developments, which are the individualization and institutionalization of Islam in Europe.

One could argue that modern states tend to extend the fear of ‘migrants’ and ‘others’ by categorizing, stigmatizing and coupling migration together with major problems



The Overall Socio-political Context: The “Securitization” of Migration 

During the 1960s, migration was a source of content. More recently, however, migration has been framed as a source of fear and instability for Western nation-states. What has happened since the 1960s? Why has there been this shift in the framing of migration? Reasons such as de-industrialization, rising productivity, unemployment, poverty and a neo-liberal political economy can be enumerated in answer to such questions. One should not underestimate either the influence of enormous demographic changes, led by the dissolution of the Eastern bloc. The period starting in 1989 signaled the beginning of a new epoch that resulted in massive migration flows of ethnic Germans, ethnic Hungarians, ethnic Russians and Russian Jews from one place to another. The post-Communist era has also brought about a process of re-homogenization in Western nation-states like Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. Political instability and ethnic conflicts in the former Eastern bloc (the USSR and the former Yugoslavia) pushed some ethnic groups to emigrate to Western European countries in which they could find ethnic affinities. The mobility of millions of people has stimulated a number of nation-states such as Germany, Hungary, and Romania to ethnicize their migration policies in a way that approved of the arrival of co-ethnic immigrants, but disapproved of the status of existing immigrants. Germany, for instance, was not suitably equipped to absorb the spontaneous arrival of so many Aussiedlers (ethnic German immigrants coming from the East) due to the social-economic burden on the reunification of the two Germanies. This period of demographic change in Western Europe has occurred in parallel with the rise of heterophobic discourses such as the ‘clash of civilizations’, ‘culture wars’ and ‘Islamophobia’, as well as with the reinforcement of restrictive migration policies and territorial border security vis-à-vis the nationals of countries outside the European space.

Ethnic and/or religious revivals, which appear among some migrant groups as a reaction to poverty, unemployment, insecurity and institutional discrimination, seem to be decoded by the state as a challenge to societal security

The present usage of the term ‘security’ goes beyond its conventional limits. Security used to be defined in political/military terms as the protection of a state’s boundaries, its integrity and its values against the dangers of a hostile international arena.3 Nowadays, however, security concerns are not only about protecting states against ideological and military threats; they are also related to issues such as migration, ethnic revival, religious revival (Islam), identity claims and sometimes supranational entities such as the EU. One could argue that modern states tend to extend the fear of ‘migrants’ and ‘others’ by categorizing, stigmatizing and coupling migration together with major problems.4 This tendency is reinforced by the use of racist and xenophobic terminology that dehumanizes migrants. One can see this racist tone in the term ‘influx’, which is used to mean large numbers of migrants. 

The securitization of migration became a vital issue after 9/11. The security discourse conceals the fact that ethnic/religious/identity claims of migrants and their reluctance to integrate actually result from existing structural problems of poverty, unemployment, discrimination, xenophobia, heterophobia, nationalism and racism: they are not the reason for such problems. It seems to us and several other researchers that states tend to employ the discourse of securitization as a political technique that can integrate a society politically by staging a credible existential threat in the form of an internal, or even an external, enemy, an enemy that is created by security services (like the police and the army) by categorizing migration together with drug trafficking, human trafficking, criminality and terrorism.5 This is what Michel Foucault called ”governmentality”.6 

As mentioned above, security is no longer limited to the protection of national boundaries. Today, the term ‘security’ has a broader meaning than it had during the Cold War era, when it was linked to military and ideological threats. Then the focus was on the security of the nation-state as an entity, and security was defined in political/military terms as the protection of the boundaries and integrity of the state and its values against the dangers of a hostile international arena.7 Nowadays, security concerns not only relate to the protection of the state against military threats, they relate to issues such as immigration, ethnic revival, religious revival (Islam), identity claims or supranational entities like the EU. In other words, issues become security issues through a process of social construction, namely “securitization”. As the main rationale of the security discourse seems to have shifted from protecting the state to protecting society, so the protection of society against any kind of ‘evil’ has become the pillar of the security discourse in a way that has popularized the term security in all spheres of life. Immigration resulting from poverty and anti-democratic regimes in the countries of origin has become one of the principal worries of Western countries. Immigration has been defined as a threat, not to the survival of the state, but to societal security. Ethnic and/or religious revivals, which appear among some migrant groups as a reaction to poverty, unemployment, insecurity and institutional discrimination, seem to be decoded by the state as a challenge to societal security, a challenge that must immediately be stifled. This research aims to reveal whether ethnic and religious revival should be translated as the reason for continuing problems such as xenophobia, discrimination and conflict, or as the outcome of these problems. 

Recent research on the securitization of migration8 rightfully draws our attention to the fact that, at the official level, modern state institutions address only an insignificant correlation between undocumented migration and the problems of global poverty, debt, health, environment and unemployment fostered by the neo-liberal economic model9 In this regard, one should underline that the true nature of the contemporary global crisis actually derives from the process of de-industrialization or post-industrialization, which has turned the uneducated and unqualified masses into the new “wretched of the earth” to use Frantz Fanon’s terminology.10 Furthermore, William Walters eloquently reveals that nowhere in the official programs of regulating immigration do the complex histories of Fortress Europe’s economic, geopolitical, colonial and post-colonial entanglements in the regions and borderlands that are now designated ”countries of transit” and ”countries of origin” appear.11 Instead, we are presented with an external force of ”illegal immigration”, rooted in regional disorder, for which the EU is then positioned as a benign framework of protection and prevention

The architects of EU policies regarding justice and home affairs described in the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997 have indeed contributed to a “discourse of othering”. Referring to Jacques Rancière and Slavoj Zizek, Walters states that EU leaders engage in a kind of ”ultra-politics”, which frames anti-illegal immigration activities as a battle between “us and them”, sometimes as a struggle to the death.12 Framing the issue like this puts it outside the space of dialogue and forecloses the possibility of politics and citizenship. The problem lies in the very nature of the EU, which has been becoming like a territorial state over the last 20 years. In this regard, maps, which display the routes undertaken by ‘illegal migrants’ to get into the EU, have been employed as ideological tools in order to territorialize the European space. Maps can also frame others as enemies. This is the most cunning and radical version of ultra-politics. As Zizek defines it, this is “an attempt to de-politicize conflict by way of bringing it to an extreme, via the direct militarization of politics: the ‘foreclosed’ political returns in the real, in the guise of the attempt to resolve the deadlock of the political conflict, by its false radicalization, i.e. by way of reformulating it as a war between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’, our Enemy, where there is no common ground for symbolic conflict.”13



Individualization of Islam among Younger Generations

There has lately been a tendency among the younger generation of Muslim-origin Euro-Turks to regard religion as an intellectual and spiritual quest in a way that distances them from the inherited cultural practices of Muslim communities. Referring particularly to young Belgian-Moroccans, Nadia Fadil reveals how youngsters of Moroccan origin undergo a process of emancipation and how they rescue their individual faith from the authority of their parental culture.14 The younger generations differentiate between Islam and culture. Mandaville observes a similar tendency, especially among young Muslim women in the diaspora:

More and more women seem to be taking Islam into their own hands. They are not hesitating to question, criticize and even reject the Islam of their parents. Often this takes the form of drawing distinctions between culture, understood as the oppressive tendencies which derive from the parents’ ethno-social background, and religion, a true Islam untainted by either culture or gender discrimination.15 

Migrant women are likely to see Islam both as a progressive force emancipating them from their traditional roots, and as preventing them from surrendering to Western cultural forms. Jorgen Nielsen claims that Muslim women in the diaspora no longer refer to dress codes, arranged marriages and gender roles as symbols of Islam.16 The emphasis seems to be shifting towards the ethical and spiritual values of Islam. In her study on Norwegian-Pakistanis, Mette Andersson similarly reveals that young Pakistanis in the diaspora heavily criticize the ways in which their parents used religion as a shield for cultural practices oppressing women.17 Their critique is directed against those among first-generation Pakistanis who take forced marriage and unequal conditions for men and women to be religious prescriptions. The youngsters see illiteracy as the “main source for indifference and the mingling of religion and cultural traditions”.18 Andersson also draws our attention to the fact that women, rather than men, problematize the relationship between culture and religion.

We used to learn the content of Islam from our parents. They taught us how to pray, how to fast, and how to read the Quran. We learned those things in practice without knowing the very meaning of the verses and the rituals. Our parents did not know them either. Only the Imams knew what the verses meant, because they could understand Arabic, the language of the holy book. But now we no longer need our parents to learn the religion. We have the internet, religious associations, and schools to inquire about everything. I don’t want anybody, or any institution like the mosque, to impose on me anything about my faith. I am always surfing the internet, and I send my writings to the relevant forums.19 

These are the words of a young veiled Euro-Turkish woman, who treats Islam as a way of emancipation from the repression of both parental culture and traditional institutions. In doing so, youngsters make use of modern telecommunications provided by the contemporary processes of globalisation. The media and information technologies have certainly played an important role in the emergence of a new breed of Islamist intellectual whose activities represent a form of hybridized, counter-hegemonic ”globalisation from below”. Brecher et al. define ”globalisation from below” as a constitutive entanglement, which has become a characteristic of modern diasporic networks.20 The expansion of economic, cultural and political networks between Euro-Turks and Turkey is one such example of this trend. In the context of the diasporic condition, globalisation from below refers to the enhancement of access of transnational migrants and their descendants to those social, cultural, political and economic mechanisms that enable them to transcend conditions imposed upon them by transnational capitalism, which organizes them into a system of international and hierarchical division of labor. 

Religious resurgence is a symptom of illnesses brought about by various structural constraints such as unemployment, racism, xenophobia, exclusion and, sometimes, assimilation

The global circuitry of modern telecommunications also contributes to the formation of a digitalized umma within the Muslim diaspora, which is based on the idea of a more homogeneous community of sentiments,21 shaped by a constant flow of identical signs and messages travelling across cyberspace. A digitalized umma (Muslim community) shaped by electronic capitalism tends to get engaged in various forms of ijtihad (an Arabic word meaning interpretation of the Quran) because each individual dwells in a different social, political or cultural context within the diaspora. While the signs and messages disseminated across the diaspora are rather more homogeneous, their impact on individual lives differs greatly. The signs and messages form a more heterogeneous and individualized type of umma. This kind of ijtihad, built up by the media, has the potential to turn recipients into a virtual alim (an Arabic word for intellectual) who can challenge the authority of traditional religious scholars.22 As Arjun Appadurai rightly says, “new forms of electronically mediated communication are beginning to create virtual neighbourhoods, no longer bounded by territory, passports, taxes, elections, and other conventional political diacritics.”23 These new communities of sentiments are constructed in cyberspace, a space that is often occupied by modern diasporic subjects. For instance, Belgian-Muslim-Turks, or Belgian-Muslim-Kurds are, to a certain extent, the constructions of the modern telecommunication circuitry.



Euro-Islam: The Revival of Honor in an Age of Structural Outsiderism 

Euro-Turks, and Euro-Muslims in general, alienated by the system and swept into a destiny dominated by the capitalist West, no longer invent local futures. What is different about them is that they remain tied to their traditional pasts, religions and ethnicities. Re-making, or recovering, the past serves at least a dual purpose for the diasporic communities. Firstly, it is a way of coping with the conditions of the present without being very critical of the status quo. Secondly, it helps to recuperate a sense of self that is not dependent on criteria handed down by others. The past is what diasporic subjects can claim to be their own. Hence, their growing affiliation with Islam, culture, authenticity, ethnicity, nationalism and traditions provides Euro-Turks or Euro-Muslims with the opportunity of establishing solidarity networks, bulwarks against the major clusters of modernity such as capitalism, industrialism, racism, surveillance, egoism, loneliness, insecurity, structural outsiderism and militarism. Accordingly, the Islamic revival emerges as a symptom, or an outcome, of certain processes of structural outsiderism. 

In an age of insecurity, poverty, exclusion, discrimination and violence, those wretched of the earth become more engaged in the protection of their honor, which, they believe, is the only thing left

Islam is, by and large, considered and represented as a threat to the European way of life in the West. It is frequently believed that Islamic fundamentalism is the source of current xenophobic, racist and violent attitudes. However, one of the main premises of this paper is that the religious resurgence is a symptom of illnesses brought about by various structural constraints such as unemployment, racism, xenophobia, exclusion and, sometimes, assimilation. If this is so, then in order to tackle such constraints, a discourse on culture, identity, religion, ethnicity, traditions and the past becomes essential for minorities in general and migrant groups in particular. This is actually a form of politics generated by outsider groups. According to Alistair MacIntyre, there are two forms of politics: politics of those within and politics of those excluded.24 Those within tend to employ legitimate political institutions (parliaments, political parties, the media) in pursuing their goals, and those excluded use culture, ethnicity, religion and tradition to pursue their aims. It should be noted here that MacIntyre does not place culture in the private space; culture is rather inherently located in the public space although there are many different types of cultures, which are not to be conflated. Thus, the quest for identity, authenticity and religiosity should not be reduced to an attempt to essentialize the so-called purity. It is rather a form of politics generated by subordinated subjects. Islam is no longer simply a religion, but also a counter hegemonic global political movement, which prompts Muslims to stand up for justice and against tyranny—whether in Palestine, Kosovo, Kashmir, Iraq, or Lebanon.

In an age of insecurity, poverty, exclusion, discrimination and violence, those wretched of the earth become more engaged in the protection of their honor, which, they believe, is the only thing left. In understanding the growing significance of honor, Akbar S. Ahmed25 draws our attention to the collapse of what Mohammad Ibn Khaldun once called asabiyya, an Arabic word that refers to group loyalty, social cohesion or solidarity.26 Asabiyyabinds groups together through a common language, culture and code of behavior. Ahmed establishes a direct negative correlation between asabiyyaand the revival of honor. The collapse of asabiyya on a global scale prompts Muslims to revitalize honor. He claims that asabiyya is collapsing for the following reasons:

massive urbanization, dramatic demographic changes, a population explosion, large scale migrations to the West, the gap between rich and poor, the widespread corruption and mismanagement of rulers, the rampant materialism coupled with the low premium on education, the crisis of identity, and, perhaps, most significantly new and often alien ideas and images, at once seductive and repellent, and instantly communicated from the West, ideas and images which challenge traditional values and customs.27

The collapse of asabiyya also implies for Muslims the breakdown of adl (justice) and ihsan (compassion and balance). Global disorder characterized by the lack of asabiyya, adl, and ihsan seems to trigger the essentialization of honor by Muslims. The rise of honor crimes in the Muslim context illustrates the way honor becomes instrumentalized and essentialized. The popularity of honor crimes among Euro-Muslims has made it very common for some of the conservative political elite and academics in the West to explain it as an indispensable element of Islam. However, one should note that honor crimes are not unique to the Islamic culture: they are also visible in the Judeo-Christian world. Honor crimes have rather been structurally constrained. The traumatic acts of migration, exclusion, and poverty by uneducated subaltern migrant workers without work prepare a viable ground for domestic violence, honor crimes and delinquency.

Here is the way an interviewee perceived honor among the Turks and the way he distances himself from that state of mind:

There are cultural differences between the two societies in terms of the way they live. I used to have a Belgian acquaintance. He was around 65 years old. He used to come to work from 15 km outside of Brussels. One day he was complaining. I asked ”What’s up? Is there a problem?“ and he replied ”I have a daughter of 19 years old. She brought home a guy two months ago.“ I thought he was angry at her because she had stayed with the guy outside marriage. He said ”I am 65 years old and working. Now there is one more plate on the table. He will exploit me too.“ Can you imagine? In our culture, we would take it as an offence to our honor, wouldn’t we? Imagine that a 19-year-old girl brought home a guy and wanted to stay together. How many fathers could accept this? The financial aspect is the last concern for a Turk. But the main concern of the Belgian father is money.28

Although women are not so visible in the public space, they have an essential role in the construction and protection of the community in the diaspora. A woman’s honor, which has to be protected, seems to be a tacit cement that keeps the community intact. The dominant discourse of the community may be mostly based on ethnicity, religiosity and nationalism, but the discourse of protecting the honor of women cuts across all other discourses. Another remarkable strategy to keep the community intact is the attitude of fathers in preventing their daughters from marrying ‘European’ men. In coffee houses around Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands, one often hears comments such as “How could a father look into the others’ faces?” Parents still seem to be influential in deciding whom their children will marry. Although it seems to be primarily the father who decides on behalf of his daughter, women also play an active role in taking the decision to remain within the community boundaries. The way children are raised within their families puts pressure on them to be more inward looking in order not to lose the comfort provided for them by the community. Their upbringing prevents them from taking counter-hegemonic decisions, which may eventually outlaw them from within their community. A young woman reported her discomfort concerning marriage outside the community with a German: “If we get married to a German man, then we risk losing all our family and relatives.”

Women become even more isolated in their private space when they are married. A woman’s role then becomes even more determined by the community: that of being a mother and a decent woman. Women become truly ‘private women’ when they marry, a very different status from the ‘public women’ that describe European women.29 Women become active agents in replicating the community through complying with its customs, traditions and values. They do not even question why they cannot go beyond the boundaries of the community. It is just “not possible”. Despite all, however, the boundaries of the community are not so rigid and there is always a way out. One might describe the masculine power of man as hard power, and the power of the habitus30 as soft power. Individuals usually have the capacity to escape from the restraints of both hard power and soft power by using their fugitive power.31 Fugitive power is elusive, mobile, shifty and slippery; it is used by individuals to reposition themselves against the power of strategies and ideologies that operate at the social and communal level. Compared to men, women in the community are much more resistant, diversified and elusive in their daily life. Their successful tactics provide them with spaces in which they can occasionally detach themselves from the restrictive power of communal strategies and ideologies intertwined with the politics of honor.



In surveys, 7.5% of German-Turks, 10% of French-Turks and 6.8% of Belgian-Turks define themselves as quite religious, a similar pattern to Turks in Turkey; 89% of German-Turks, 80% of French-Turks and 84% of Belgian-Turks are reported to be relatively faithful. However, 2.4% of German-Turks, 10% of French-Turks and 5.8% of Belgian-Turks seem to be either atheist or agnostic. These figures contradict the stereotypical perception of Islam in the West, which imprisons Muslims in their alleged fundamentalist habitats of meaning. Recently, some Islamic-oriented movements, such as the Cojepiennes based in Strasbourg or some moderate off-springs of Milli Görüş (National Vision) based in several cities in Western Europe, have shown a determination to adapt the Western way of life with their own identities. Such modern interpretations of Islam prove that Islam does not actually pose a threat to Western values; its main concern is actually to incorporate itself into the mainstream. The findings of the Euro-Turks research indicate that several Euro-Turks identify themselves with hyphenated (multiple) identities such as French-Muslim-Turkish, German-Muslim-Turkish, or Dutch-Muslim-Turkish. What is remarkable here is that political identity is prior to religious and ethnic identities. Similarly, there is also something anew generating among the young generations of Euro-Muslims, i.e. the individualization of religion.32



Institutionalization of Islam

As opposed to the individualization of Islam among the young generations of Euro-Muslims, an antithetical process is taking place at the same time: the institutionalization of Islam in Europe. Different initiatives have been taken so far in order to institutionalize Islam: the Superior Council of Muslims in Belgium (Exécutif des Musulmans de Belgique, 1995); the CORIF in France (Council for Reflection on Islam in France, 2003); national organizations in the Netherlands charged with overseeing the building of mosques, the employment of imams, and the availability of halal meat;33and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s attempt to bring Muslims together through the Integration Summit held in July 2006 and the Islam Conference held in September 2006. But these attempts to organize European Islam have until now been relatively unsuccessful because of the national, ethnic and doctrinal cleavages dividing the Muslim populations. One should also consider the ways in which the construction of the EU could influence the form and the content of Islamic expression. The fortification of European borders with neighboring countries after the Schengen Treaty (1985) reinforced the political and cultural borders separating Europe from its southern and eastern neighbors. The rise of the ”clash of civilizations” discourse has also deepened the boundaries between life-worlds of Europeans and non-Europeans. At the same time, social issues such as the controversy surrounding the Gulf War, Sudan, Afghanistan and Iran, the publication of The Satanic Verses in Britain, the killing of the provocative Dutch film director Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands,34 the cartoon debate in Denmark, and the provocative intervention of Pope Benedict XVI regarding the brutal nature of the Prophet Mohammad have all brought European Muslims together in protest, provoking hostile reactions from Europeans who, for the first time, viewed Europe’s immigrant Muslims as a unified whole. All these events led to both a questioning of the significance of Muslims’ collective presence in Europe and a radicalization of the European Islamic identity. One should also note that recent debates in EU countries reveal that the European form of secularism is not yet equipped to accommodate Islam, which has recently become very visible in the public space. 

In his study comparing Britain, France, and Germany in the period of 1973-2001, Koenig revealed that the public incorporation of Muslim immigrants follows specific patterns shaped by the legally institutionalized logic of traditional religious politics that emerged from historically specific trajectories of state-formation and nation-building. A first crucial factor is the degree of the institutionalization of the idea of the ‘individual’ in each polity, as it affects the very definition of ‘religion’. In corporatist polities, where rights are ascribed to corporate bodies, religion is regarded as a formal membership organization, which can directly be incorporated into the state’s rationalizing project. In statist and liberal polities, where the individual is the primary bearer of rights, religion is perceived as an individual orientation organized in voluntary associations. Koenig points out that it is not by accident that conflicts about Muslim claims for recognition in Germany crystallize around legal questions of organization, as evinced by the notorious debate about the recognition of Islamic organizations as corporations of public law, a problem that in Britain is of rather secondary relevance. In addition to the degree of the institutionalization of the idea of the individual, there is a second factor, which is the degree of “stateness”: In nation-states oriented toward a statist or corporatist polity models, such as France and Germany, the incorporation of Muslim minorities is co-ordinated by the organizational center of the state, while in liberal polities, such as the UK, it rather takes the form of civil negotiations, mostly at the local level.35The third factor is the relationship of symbols of national identity to the metanarratives of “secularization”: As universalistic symbols of national identity are connected to ideologies of secularism, as in the case of French laïcité, explicitly religious claims for recognition are conceived as transgressing the symbolic boundary between the religious and the secular. Unlikely, polities where nation-building was sustained by collective religious or confessional mobilization, as in Britain and Germany, are in principle open to religious symbols.36 

The institutionalization ofIslam seems to contradict with the process of individualization of Islam

Koenig’s study is also confirmed by the three separate studies conducted by Patrick R. Ireland, Jan Rath et al., and Soper and Fetzer. Patrick R. Ireland claims that the reason why migrant groups organize themselves politically along ethno-cultural and religious lines is primarily because ”host-society” institutions have nurtured ethnicity through their policies and practices. Ireland’s theory takes migrant individuals as active reflexive subjects, who form their political participation strategies in response to the regulations of host-society institutions. Ireland also tends to explain the Islamic revival as an outcome of the ways in which host society institutions treat immigrant communities of Muslim origin: “just as they have been getting the Islam they deserve, so too, are they reaping what they sow in terms of their immigrants’ political mobilization”.37 Rath et al. conclude in their study that the institutionalization of Islam is “to a far greater degree determined by the societies in which Muslims settle than by the Muslims themselves.”38Similarly, Christopher Soper and Joel Fetzer have revealed that the pattern of church-state relations is the major factor explaining differences in the accommodation of Muslim religious practices in France, Germany, and Britain.39 

The institutionalization of Islam seems to contradict with the process of individualization of Islam. Institutions tend to have their own life-worlds. When Islam, or any other religion, is institutionalized, it is inclined to create its own industry, which is composed of a group of ‘religious brokers’ who act as a buffer between their own religious communities and the state. Institutions need their own clientele to survive; the survival of, say, Islamic institutions, depends on the existence of faithful subjects who are ready to remain within the boundaries of the religious community without having the need to incorporate themselves in the mainstream society. This process is what Ian Rath calls the “reminorization of minorities”,40 which results in migrants not being perceived as full members of the receiving society, and that they are likely to be tolerated but not accepted into key positions.41 

Turkey’s attempts to become a full member of the EU also triggers the Islamophobic sentiments of the seculars in a way that reveals the fact that enlightened European secularism is not yet ready to accommodate Muslims in the public space




The discussions about the Euro-Turks have been heated in a time when Turkey has been given a full-membership perspective to the EU. These discussions have also become embedded in the debates on 9/11, 7/7, Islam, the killing of anti-Islamist political leader Pim Fortuyn and film director Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands, the cartoon crisis in Denmark, and the Pope’s unfortunate gaffe about the Prophet Mohammad. In the meantime, Euro-Muslims in general, and Euro-Turks in particular, have had a wider visibility in the European public sphere in a way that has fuelled the Islamophobic sentiments. However, it seems that the real clash is not between Christians and Muslims; it is rather between the so-called secularists and Muslims who become more visible in the public space. Turkey’s attempts to become a full member of the EU also triggers the Islamophobic sentiments of the seculars in a way that reveals the fact that enlightened European secularism is not yet ready to accommodate Muslims in the public space. Secular political figures like Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and Helmut Schmitt have lately become obsessed with underlining the Christian roots of the European civilization at the expense of risking the channels of dialogue between the EU and its immediate neighbors in the south and southeast. Secularists have opted for a religious discourse trying to make use of the defensive cultural and religious mood prevailing in Europe. The escalation of this conflict between the autochthonous (local) and allochthonous (migrants in Dutch) populations has resulted in politicization of massive number of Euro-Turks in countries like Germany, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Although the new political atmosphere seems to be strenuous for the Euro-Muslims and Euro-Turks, it has compelled them to express themselves through legitimate political channels rather than through culture, ethnicity and religion. However, one should not undermine the latest challenge in the EU countries regarding the conservative official attempts to institutionalize Islam, which are likely to result with the re-minorization of ethnic minorities.




  1. Şengül Kara, “Testimony,” ELELE Conference – L’acse, French Senate, Paris, January 27, 2007.
  2. For detailed information on the research, see Ayhan Kaya and Ferhat Kentel, Euro-Turks: A Bridge, or a Breach, Between Turkey and the European Union (Brussels: CEPS, 2005); and Ayhan Kaya and Ferhat Kentel, Belgian-Turks: A Bridge, or a Breach, Between Turkey and the European Union(Brussels: King Baudouin Foundation, 2007). The research included in-depth interviews and focus-group discussions, as well as 1,065 structured interviews with 90 questions and quota sampling in Germany, 600 interviews in France, and 400 in Belgium. The structured interviews were held in Germany and France in December 2003 and January 2004, the ones in Belgium in 2007 winter. The research on the Dutch-Turks, which was conducted in 2007 winter, consists of only qualitative research techniques. See Ayhan Kaya, Islam, Migration and Integration: The Age of Securitization (London: Palgrave, 2009).
  3. Roxanne L. Doty, “Immigration and the Politics of Security”, Security Studies, Vol.8, No. 2-3 (2000), p.93.
  4. Doty, “Immigration and the Politics of Security”: 73; and Jef Huysmans, The Politics of Insecurity (London: Routledge, 2006).
  5. Huysmans, Politics of Insecurity.
  6. Michel Foucault, “Governmentality”, Ideology and Consciousness, No.6 (1979), pp. 5-21.
  7. Doty, “Immigration and the Politics of Security,” p.73.
  8. See Barry Buzan, Ole Wæver and Jaap de Wilde, Security: a New Framework for Analysis (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1998); Saskia Sassen, ‘A Universal Harm: Making Criminals of Migrants’, OpenDemocracy, August 20, 2003,; Huysmans, The Politics of Insecurity; and Frank Düvell, ‘Crossing the Fringes of Europe: Transit Migration in the EU’s Neighbourhood’, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society Working Paper, No.33 (2006). 
  9. Sassen, “A Universal Harm”.
  10. Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 2005).
  11. William Walters, “Security, Territory, Metagovernance: Critical Notes on Antiillegal Immigration Programmes in the European Union,” Paper,presented at Istanbul Bilgi University, December 7, 2006.
  12. Walters, “Security, Territory, Metagovernance”.
  13. Slavoj Zizek, “For a leftist appropriation of the European legacy”, Journal of Political Ideologies, Vol. 3, No.1 (February 1998), pp. 63-78. 
  14. Nadia Fadil, “The political mobilization of Muslim minorities in the West: a gender (un)friendly project?” Joseph Suad (ed.), Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures. Vol. 2 (Leiden: Brill, 2005), pp. 293-295.
  15. Peter Mandaville, Transnational Muslim Politics: Reimagining the Umma (London: Routledge, 2001), p.141.
  16. Jorgen Nielsen, “Muslims in Britain: Searching for an Identity?” New Community, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Spring 1987), p.392.
  17. Mette Andersson, “Ethnic Entrepreneurs: Identity Politics among Pakistani Students”, H. G. Sıcakkan and Y. G. Lithman (eds.), What Happens When a Society is Diverse: Exploring Multidimensional Identities (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 2006), pp. 44-48.
  18. Andersson, “Ethnic Entrepreneurs: Identity Politics among Pakistani Students,” p. 45.
  19. Kaya, Islam, Migration and Integrationp.190. Some of these popular forums include;;;;,
  20. John Brecher, Brown Childs and Jill Cutler, Global Visions: Beyond the New World Order (Boston: South End Press, 1993).
  21. Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalisation (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1996).
  22. Mandaville, Transnational Muslim Politics: Reimagining the Umma, p.160.
  23. Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalisation, p.95.
  24. Alistair MacIntyre, Against the Self-Images of the Age: Essays on Ideology (New York: Schoken Books, 1971).
  25. Akbar S. Ahmed, Islam under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World (Cambridge, U.K.: Polity Press, 2003).
  26. Mohammad Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, N.J. Dawood, ed., Franz Rosenthal, trans. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969).
  27. Ahmed, Islam under Siege, p.81.
  28. Kaya, Islam, Migration and Integration, p.179.
  29. The difference between ‘private women’ and ‘public women’ has been very successfully drawn by Claire E. Alexander. She used this classification in mapping out the modes of courtship of black male Londoners. See Claire E. Alexander, The Art of Being Black: The Creation of Black British Youth IdentitiesOxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), pp. 157-186.
  30. The term habitus is coined by Pierre Bourdieu (1984) to refer to a system of durable, transposable dispositions which function as the generative basis of structured practices. See Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984).
  31. The concept of “fugitive power’ is used by Zygmunt Bauman. The notion of ‘fugitive power’ describes the modes of democratic power operating beyond the reach of ‘hard power’ (guns and laws) and ‘soft power’ (norms, customs, culture industry, ideology). See, Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Modernity (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000).
  32. Kaya and Kentel, Euro-Turks; and Kaya and Kentel, Belgian-Turks.
  33. Jocelyne Cesari, “Muslim Minorities in Europe: The Silent Revolution”, John Esposito and François Burgat (eds.), Modernizing Islam: Religion in the Public Sphere in the Middle East and in Europe (Rutgers University Press, 2003), pp. 251-269.
  34. Ian Buruma, Murder in Amsterdam: Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance (London: Atlantic Books, 2007).
  35. Matthias Koenig, “The public incorporation of Muslim migrants in Western Europe --a comparative perspective”, In Religion and diversity in international focus: Research and policy issues, chair Paul Bradamat, John Biles, and m Humera Ibrahim. 8th International Metropolis Confederence, Vienna (2003).
  36. Aristide R. Zolberg, “The Democratic Management of Cultural Differences: Building Inclusive Societies in Western Europe and North America”, Occasional Paper 17, United Nations Development Office, Human Development Report Office (2004).
  37. Patrick R. Ireland, “Reaping What They Sow: Institutions and Immigrant Political Participation in Western Europe”, R. Koopmans and P. Statham (eds.), Challenging Immigration and Ethnic Relations Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p.269.
  38. Jan Rath, “The Ideological Representation of Migrant Workers in Europe: A Matter of Racialisation?,” J. Solomos and J. Wrench (eds.), Racism and Migration in Western Europe (Oxford: Berg Publishers, 1993), p.96.
  39. Christopher Soper and Joel S. Fetzer, “Explaining the accommodation of Muslim religious practices in France, Britain, and Germany”, French Politics 1 (2003), pp.39-59.
  40. Rath, “The Ideological Representation of Migrant Workers in Europe.”
  41. Pontus Odmalm, Migration Policies and Political Participation: Inclusion or Intrusion in Western Europe? (Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005).

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