Introduction to Politics and Society
This is to introduce our Politics and Citizenship section. There are huge debates in the political field when it comes to the issue of Muslims in Europe. These are often very controversial discussions that have especially deepened since 9/11. Again and again we hear politicians discussing the question of Muslims’ integration in Europe. Questions about the compatibility of Islam and the West occupy many politicians. Moreover, the association of Islam with danger, terrorism and violence has deepened in various public discussions. One can observe a securitisation of Muslims in various political discourses and practices. Thereby, the issue of trust plays a key role. Framing Muslims in terms of security illustrates a rather distrustful relation to Muslims and the feeling of ‘an enemy within’ as some scholars outlined is expressed.
Different concepts of citizenship were and are still being negotiated in European socities. In France we have a universalist concept of citizenship that is blind to differences and that does not recognise Muslim minorities as such. Various political practices, such as the headscarf ban in schools reflect this rather restrictive concept of citizenship and particular understanding of laicite. It is not very open towards religion and does not necessarily reflect the original meaning of secularism. Differently does the UK conceptualise citizenship. It is much more integrative of differences and is based on a multicultural understanding of citizenship that recognises different cultural and religious attachments. It does not see a necessary discrepancy between universalistic and particularistic identity. Yet, as recent speeches have shown the multicultural citizenship concept is not always welcomed by politicians. Moreover, the UK has been repeatedly accused of having failed multiculturalism and allowing Muslim radicalism to grow. Taking these debates about Muslims in the West as well as citizenship concepts into consideration MTCD aims to investigate issues of trust and mistrust in political discourses and practices in Western societies.