This article explores the implications of the Charlie Hebdo attacks for Muslims in Europe already experiencing a whole host of challenges in relation to the securitisation of integration, Islamophobia, and political and economic marginalisation. It is argued that while the incident appreciably dented the relationship between Muslims and the French state, the events have wider implications for Muslims across Western Europe regarding acceptance, tolerance and equality. It places pressures on both the Muslims in Western Europe, and the states in which they reside, to draw inwards, narrowing the terms of engagement, ultimately handing further powers to governments to legislate and police without always considering human rights or civil liberties. Simultaneously, Muslims, facing the brunt of exclusion in society in the current period, run the risk of entrenchment. Rather than interpreting these events as a separation of communities, the opportunities exist to engage in meaningful dialogue. It has the potential to promote humanist religious values, all the while participating in society within the limits of Islam, which remain relatively broad and inclusive for the vast majority of European Muslims. Alternatively, dominant societies run the danger of casting their nets wide, inducing Muslims to see integration and engagement as the least desirable option. This article suggests ways forward to empower the Muslim centre ground in order to push violent extremist elements further to the margins.
Gabriele Marranci, ‘Multiculturalism, Islam and the clash of civilisations theory: rethinking Islamophobia’, Culture and Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal5:1 (2004), 105–117; Jack Goody, Islam in Europe (Cambridge: Polity, 2004).
Nick Cohen, What’s Left?: How the Left Lost its Way: How Liberals Lost Their Way (London: Harper Perennial, 2007); David Goodhart, The British Dream: Successes and Failures of Post-war Immigration (New York: Atlantic, 2014).