"Five centuries after the expulsion of Muslims and Jews
from Spain, Europe is once again becoming a land of Islam
- albeit for a minority of the European population," Nezar
AlSayyad and Manuel Castells of the University of California,
Berkeley, write in their introduction to "Muslim Europe
or Euro-Islam" (Lexington Books, 2002)
"The main issue now is citizenship. What does it mean to
be a citizen of Europe in the 21st century?" said AlSayyad
in an interview.
He and Castells asked scholars from Cairo, the United Kingdom,
Paris, Germany and the United States to submit papers addressing
such questions as:
* How powerful is Islam as a force in shaping identity?
* How do migration and citizenship issues affect relations
between countries of Muslim origin and European countries
of resident destination?
* What is the "European identity"?
* What is the effect on Muslim migrants of a unity of belief
contrasted with wide variations in ethnic, national and
* How do practices of assimilation and multiculturalism
relate to Islam or other minority populations in Europe?
* How do Muslim Europeans view themselves, and how are they
seen by their non-Muslim counterparts?
* How does Islam in France differ from Islam in the U.S.?
The resulting seven essays originally were submitted for
a 1998 UC Berkeley conference,"Islam and the Changing Identity
of Europe," that was co-hosted by centers directed by Castells
and AlSayyad. The papers were updated for the just-released
book. The authors come from political and strategic studies,
international and area studies, international relations,
speech communication and other scholarly fields. They write
about themes or case studies.
"The view that Muslims in Europe are guest workers who
will eventually go home has long been untenable, but many
Europeans have been slow to recognize the corollaries: that
there are now large, permanent, indigenous Muslim populations
in most of the countries of Europe; that they will not assimilate
in the same way as previous waves of migration; and that
Islam is now a European religion," AlSayyad writes in his
Now, he writes, Muslims in Europe's various nation-states
have the opportunity to rethink their identities and to
mold new ones.
"While many Muslims resist Euro-American postindustrial
culture on moral grounds, they often thrive in the infrastructure
of globalization, which is the product of capitalism," AlSayyad
says in his paper. "There are also indications that Muslims
in Europe are devising a liberal form of Islam, which is
accommodating of European ideas of citizenship."
With population projections of a 20 percent Muslim Europe
by the year 2050, and heightened attention to many things
Middle Eastern since Sept. 11, the book edited by Castells
and AlSayyad helps meet a growing demand for information
about all aspects of Islam.
While interest in the book generated pre-publication sales
and has led to it being printed in Spanish and French, not
all reaction has been positive.
For example, AlSayyad said, the second part of its title
angers some Islamists, who are offended at the suggestion
of Muslims adopting Europe's dominant beliefs and politics.
AlSayyad's cover art, a bright yellow cross inside a faded
Middle Eastern star, also has generated complaints from
religious conservatives, he said.
AlSayyad is chair of the UC Berkeley's Center for Middle
Eastern Studies, which concentrates on cultural issues rather
than conflicts. He also is a professor of architecture and
planning. Castells is the former chair of the Center for
Western European Studies at UC Berkeley and a professor
of city and regional planning as well as of sociology. Both
write extensively about cultural history.