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Interventions against forced marriage: contesting hegemonic narratives and minority practices in Europe

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Muslims in western countries are routinely depicted as non-liberal minorities through representations of homophobia, honour killings and forced marriage within their communities. This presents a practical challenge to face up to non-liberal practices where they do exist, but without demonising an entire faith community. It also raises conceptual questions about mainstream western values. In the context of forced marriage, liberal principles (such as an individual's right to choose their own marriage partner and to decide whether to marry) appear to clash with postcolonial sensibilities including a valorisation of multiculturalism (which might recognise the rights of minorities to practice different marriage customs). These questions are examined through a case study involving Stichting Platform Islamitische Organisaties Rijnmond (SPIOR), a Muslim-identified organisation that works against forced marriage. Based in the Netherlands and active in six other European countries, SPIOR has worked with people potentially affected by forced marriage and also communicated its projects – and the progressive vision of Islam they advance – to wider audiences. Its experiences suggest that tensions between secular majorities and Muslim minorities, and between liberal and postcolonial values and sensibilities, are less fundamental than they sometimes appear, and more navigable.
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Keywords: Europa; Europe; Muslim; Orientalism; casamiento forzado; forced marriage; musulmán; orientalismo; post colonial; postcolonial; sexualidad; sexuality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Environmental Sciences,University of Liverpool, LiverpoolL69 7ZT, United Kingdom

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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