OpenAire ERC

The New Faces of the European Far-Right

Two hitherto marginal but rising forces proved pivotal in the 2009 European elections: a burgeoning Green movement and a renascent far-right. But since the election, the actions of the Greens have remained virtually invisible, while the far-right never ceases to occupy the public stage, shaping societal debate across Europe and positioning itself as a viable alternative political force. 

The Public Visibility of Islam and European Politics of Resentment: The Minarets-Mosques Debate

The public visibility of Islam reveals new political stakes in European democracies around issues of immigration and citizenship. By focusing on the societal debates and the controversies around the construction of mosques and minarets, this article explores the ways in which Islamic difference is manifested, perceived and framed in public life. The ‘visibility’ of Islam in public is conceptualized as a form of agency, amanifestation of religious difference that cannot be thought independent of themateriality of culture, namely aesthetic forms, dress codes, or architectural genres. It is argued that the debates for or against the banning of the construction of mosques and/or minarets reveal the tumultuous transition of Muslims from the status of the invisible migrant-worker to that of visible Muslim citizenship. The public visibility is approached therefore as a radically disruptive, transgressive, provocative formof transformative agency that is intrinsically related to the political process of becoming citizens.

The Mute Symbols of Islam

The public visibility of religious and cultural signs of Islam expresses the presence of Muslim actors in European countries. The minarets–as, in other respects the veils, the other mute symbol–reveal the Muslim actor–as pious, as feminine–in public life. Islam, in a paradoxical way, has become a political and cultural resource for the singularization of immigrants, for their quest for recognition, and so it indicates in turn their particular citizenship in the public space of Europe. This new visibility marks the end of a stage in the migratory phenomenon and in the integration, lived experience, and modes of appropriation of public space in Europe. What hides behind the controversies around Islam is the difficulty of recognizing this passage from the stranger to the citizen.

Politics of Islamic Praying in European Publics

Covering and praying, two Islamic prescriptions ,bring religion into public life and debate in Europe. Praying in Europe where Muslims are in minority becomes a public issue. From the perspective of the liberal discourse on religious freedom and the freedom to exercise one’s faith requires a place for worship. The author selects three different practices of praying that have provoked a public debate to illustrate the specificity of contesting religious practices in a European context. Confrontation with Islam carries also European citizens and countries that were considered to be in the periphery of Europe to the Center. Switzerland, a non-EU member, becomes European, enters into the center of European debates by the Islamic door.

 The Silent Symbols of Islam and their Importance in the European Public Sphere

Islam becomes a political and cultural source for identifying immigrants, their quest for acknowledgment. They in turn manifest their particular citizenship within the European public arena. This visibility marks the end of a stage in the migratory phenomenon, that of integration, as well as experiences and ways of appropriating the public sphere in Europe. It is the difficulty in acknowledging this passage from foreigner to citizen that lies beneath the controversies surrounding Islam. The concept of acknowledging Islam and Muslims as a phenomenon endogenous to Swiss society has been rejected.

Les minarets, symboles muets de l’Islam et leur résonnance dans l’espace public européen

L’Islam devient une ressource politique et culturelle pour la singularisation des immigrés, de leur quête de reconnaissance, et ils manifestent ainsi à leur tour leur citoyenneté particulière dans l’espace public européen. Cette visibilité marque la fin d’une étape dans le phénomène migratoire, l’intégration, les expériences vécues et les modes d’appropriation de l’espace public en Europe. Ce qui se cache derrière les controverses autour de l’Islam c’est la difficulté de reconnaître ce passage de l’étranger au citoyen. Toute la sémantique du débat laisse penser que la reconnaissance de l’Islam et des musulmans comme un phénomène endogène à la société suisse a été refusée.