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Appropriation and Redemption in Contemporary Western Discourses on Islam in Europe

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The aim of this paper is to sketch a line of interpretation of certain political-philosophical discourses on 'Islam in Europe' through the interrelated concepts of appropriation and redemption. Muslim presence in Europe is generally perceived as 'problematic.' A specific vocabulary, including terms like 'liberal dilemma,' 'defense of freedom,' 'Muslim exceptionalism,' and 'specification of acceptable boundaries,' characterizes an academic production which has been particularly stimulated by the emergence of 'crises' (the 'Rushdie Affair,' l’affaire du foulard, the French ban on headscarves in schools, and the publication of the 'Danish cartoons,' just to mention those that have hit the front pages of newspapers worldwide). Albeit in different ways, this scholarship has displayed a certain agreement on the existence of a distinctive European tradition of liberal-secular humanism and on the idea that cultural and religious pluralism should be assessed against the necessity of preserving this tradition. The scope of this essay is to articulate a reflection on the assumptions (and ensuing implications) of this interpretive framework and thus contribute to fill a gap in the burgeoning and variegated literature on Islam in Europe. ...

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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