Working Paper, Institute for International Political Economy Berlin 52/2015
This article aims to establish how Muslim identities in Germany have been constructed by others and how they differ from realities. Muslim communities have often been viewed with suspicion by majority ethnic groups in European nation states, but even more so since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Islamophobia has had negative consequences in European societies - people with MENA roots are often essentialised as a homogenous group of overtly religious Muslims. The simplistic nexus of failed integration, Islamic fundamentalism and home-grown extremism fails to question the discriminatory backdrop of integration policies in European nation states and does not explain why only a tiny minority of Muslims participate in Islamist groups. Hard multiculturalism has been used to essentialise Muslims and claim that they segregate themselves and are resistant to integrating into European societies. Those who advocate for stricter assimilation and anti-immigration policies exploit the supposed 'failure of multiculturalism'. A progressive form of multiculturalism could reconcile diversity with universal rights and gender equality and give political space to ethnic minorities. Mainstream portrayals of Muslim identities shape and perpetuate public attitudes and policies. This article explores the impacts that Orientalism, Islamophobia and assimilationist policies have had on shaping these portrayals. A more nuanced understanding of the diversity of Muslim communities is key for establishing an accurate picture of contemporary Muslim life in Europe, for unravelling Islamophobic myths, and for suggesting policy which could both recognize and accommodate diversity.
Muslim Islam Europe Germany immigrant fundamentalism identity multiculturalism integration assimilation Islamophobia