Islam in Europe
Europe that has been swept by several dynamic forces of change: the de-consolidation of the European Union (Brexit) a massive influx of Muslim immigrants and refugees, and the rising voice of Islamic fundamentalism. The portents are clearly troubling—as evidenced by the murders of Pim Fortuyn and filmmaker Theo van Gogh, after which riots broke out, mosques were burned, and Muslims were openly reviled by the public and the media, in addition to the notorious Danish cartoons, the massacres of the journalists of Charlie Hebdo and the multiple terrorist bombings in Paris and Brussels.
Let’s start our European tour on April 30, 2013 at the abdication of the Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and the enthronement of her son the new King Willem-Alexander. The King was sworn in by the name of God Almighty and 90 percent of the members of Parliament of the first and second Chamber swore allegiance to the King in the name of God Almighty. Among the guests who were present was Sheika Moza of Qatar, wearing a high fashion black dress and very elegant headgear with no reference to Islam, and the “Queen” of Morocco, Lalla Selma, was repeatedly shown on TV with comments about her Rita- Heyworth-like un-Islamic outlook. Next day, the headlines of all the Dutch newspapers had a picture of with her “uncovered red hair” and her “beautiful dark green kaftan.”
Let’s continue our journey in the same week to Belgium where the State recognized Islam in the early 70s as an official religion and integrated the teaching of Islam in public school curricula. The Belgian minister of education appeared on TV that week, worried about young Muslim students who go to fight in Syria while they are still under the law of compulsory education. In French, Belgian and Dutch newspapers politicians and civil organizations worry about the increasing numbers of young Europeans of Islamic decent who are recruited or go voluntarily to fight against the Syrian regime. The Belgian Minister of Interior spoke to imams and Muslim community leaders about ways to stop this kind of recruitment, especially when a young student disappeared for months and was found in Syria. Some of the measures discussed would result in stripping the recruits of their Belgian citizenship.
This course, taught by a former European congressman and scholar of European and pan- Arab societies, politics, and media, provides a useful lens through which to examine the presence of Islam in European Societies.
**All Short Courses will take place on Wednesday, August 29 at the APSA 2018 Annual Meeting in Boston, MA.**