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Marian Burchardt, Ines Michalowski (Hrsg.): After Integration

Cover Marian Burchardt, Ines Michalowski (Hrsg.): After Integration. Islam, Conviviality and Contentious Politics in Europe. Springer VS (Wiesbaden) 2014. 325 Seiten. ISBN 978-3-658-02594-6.

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The integration of Muslims into European societies is often seen as a major challenge that is yet to be confronted. The book, by contrast, starts from the observation that on legal, political and oganizational levels integration has already taken place. It showcases the variety of theoretical approaches that scholars have developed to conceptualise Muslim life in Europe, and provides detailed empirical analyses of the following ten European countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Demonstrating how Muslim life unfolds between convivality and contentious politics, the contributers describe demographic developments, analyse legal controversies, and explore the action of government and state, Muslim communities and other civil society actors. Driving forces of Islam are discussed in detail and compared across countries.


  • Dr. Marian Burchardt is a sociologist and postdoctoral research fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Religious end Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen
  • Dr. Ines Michalowski is a senior researcher at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center. She holds a joint PhD in sociology/political science from the Institut d´Etudes Politiques in Paris and the University Münster, Germany


Part I Theoretical Perspectives and Cross-National Camparisons

  1. Marian Burchardt and Ines Michalowski: After Integration: Islam, Conviviality and Contentious Politics in Europe (Introduction)
  2. Jörg Hüttermann: Figurational Change and Premordialism in a Multicultural Society: A Model Explained on the Basis of the German Case
  3. Matthias Koenig: Incorporating Muslim Migrants in Western Nation States – A Comparison of the United Kingdom, France, and Germany
  4. Jonathan Laurence: Muslim Mobilisation Between Self-Organisatioation, State-Recognised Consultative Bodies and Political Participation
  5. Marcel Maussen: Institutional Change and the Incorporation of Muslim Populations: Religious Freedom, Equality and Cultural Diversity
  6. Ines Michalowski und Marian Burchardt: Islam in Europa: Cross-National Differences in Accomodation and Explanations

Part II Islam in Selected European Countries

  1. Astrid Mattes and Sieglinde Rosenberger: Islam and Muslims in Austria
  2. Corinne Torrekens: Islam in Belgium: From Formal Recognition to Public Contestation
  3. Brian Arly Jacobsen: Islam and Muslims in Denmark
  4. Leyla Arslan: Islam and Laicité in France
  5. Cora Schuh: Islam and Dutch Contestations Over Secularity
  6. Luis Pais Bernardo: Islam in Contemporary Portugal
  7. Avi Astor: Governing Religious Diversity Amid National Redifinition: Muslim Incorporation in Spain
  8. Johan Cato: Islam in Sweden: Institutionalisation, Public Debates, and Discursive Paradoxes
  9. Gianni D´Amato: How Foreigners Became Muslims: Switzerland´s Path to Accomodating Islam as New Religion
  10. Paul Weller and Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor: Muslims in the UK

… and Selected Contents

Part I: Theoretical Perspectives and Cross-National Camparisons

Chapter 1: Over the last decade, scholarly literature on Islam and Muslims in European societies have proliferated in unprececedent ways. These literatures mirror not only the widening of public interest in this topic among politicians, civil society actors and European populations at large, which is evidenced in the institutionalisation of debates on Islam in political life, juridicial discourse, journalism and the infrastructures of new media. Thus, Islam has turned into a hot topic in political science, public policy research, migration studies, international relations and security issues. This book has three major goals:

  1. It takes stock of the social, legal and political developments around Islam in Europe and does so by putting recent dynamics in the context of the longer historical durée of the presence of Muslims in Europe and the relationships of European societies with Muslim worlds.
  2. The book approaches the topic not by taking and developing one particular theoretical perspective but by showcasing the variety of conceptual and theoretical possibilities.
  3. Assuming that multiple mutual adaptions have already happened and we therefore find ourselves beyond integration, the book directly proceeds by exploring these adaptions on two levels. First, it analyses how European immigration societies and their institutions have responded to the settlement of Muslim immigrants, and how their incorporation have been facilitated, contested and negotiated. Second, the bokl focuses on how Islam and Muslim immigrant communities in Europe have adopted to the cultures and institutional structures of their host societies, or how they have resisted such changes.

The chapters in this volume are especially dedicated to exploring Islam in Europe in a non-reductive fashion. In other words, they take into account the multiple contextualisations that shape Islam in social life, and that should hence direct its study. In the first, more coneptual part of the book Islam is contextualised by addressing the followimg theoretical angles and social scales: Public Institutions, Muslim Communities, Macro-sociological Dimensions: Citizenship Regimes and State-Religion Regimes, Political Power and Judical Authority, Civil Society Mobilisations.

Muslim life in Europe is embedded in multiple institutional contexts. But it is also imbedded in a hughely varying varying contexts having to do with the national demographics, religious diversity „on the ground“ and its experience on the part of communities. The authors point out three of such contexts: Formation of Everyday Convivality, The religious Field, Internal Differentiations. Taken together, the array of different theoretical and national perspectives and their multiple differentiations offer a comprehensive account of Muslim life in contemporary Europe as it unfolds in changing institutional landscapes. One of the often neglected but at the same time most interesting observations regarding these changes is the tightening of the cultural rights of immigrants and the concomitant expansion of their religious rights.

Chapter 3: Only recently has the religious dimension of internationally migration and integration moved up on the agenda of acadenic research and public policy.In view of this new attention to religion in immigration and integration policies, one may ask how nation states respond to religious diversity. In other words, what factors explain varying policy reactions to the public claim of recognition based on the religious identities of migrants? And how does immigration contribute to institutional transformations of the nation state in the religious field? In this chapter the author adresses these questions from a comparative macro-sociological perspective by focusing on the public incorporation of Muslim immigrants in three Western European countries: United Kingdom (UK), France and Germany. Sociological research on the approximately seven million Muslims who have settled as a result of large-scale labour migration and political refuge from a variety of Islamic countries in the post-war period has largely adopted and often reproduced the above-mentioned schemata of perception and interpretation. Thus research in 1970s and 1980s often focused on problems of assimilation, acculturation or integration of Muslims in „secular“ modern Europe societies, with Islam being perceived as an essentially traditional, if not fundamentalist, religion or being trivalized as an aspect of ethnnicity.

The analysis shows that how nation states respond to religious diversity is, on the one hand, shaped by the institutional arrangements of political organization, collective identity, and religion characteristic of the historical trajectories of madern nation states. On the other hand, it also shows convergent trends that correspondent to the development of cognitive and normative expectancy structures at the transnational level and amount to a uncoupling of political organization and national identity. This analysis suggests that the classical nation state is considerably less secular and certeinly less neutral than is often assumed.

Finally, the analysis of incorporation patterns also shows tentatively that the varying institutional arrangements of European nation states and the dynamics of their transformation shape the reconstruction of collective identities and the etablishment of transnational networks among Muslim immigrants themselves. With increased concerns about security in the field of immigration and integration policies and increased public sensitivity to the religious underpinnings of terrorism. It may be hoped that further research on the multifaceted interplay of statehood, national identity, and religion in the process of migration will contribute to a more nuanced perception of religious claims for recognition in public debate.

Chapter 6: The aim of the volume is to provide insights into how Islam as a non-Christian immigrant religion is integrated into European societies. Rather than looking at indicators of individual integration and well-being among Muslims in Europe, the authors take an institutional perspective on this question by analyzing how European public institutions, legal and political systems, Muslim organizations and representatives, as well as other actors from civil society and the religious field have reacted to the change in Europe´s religious landscape that was driven by immigration from countries with Muslim majorities. As the institutions of the immigration countries have been shaped mainly against the backdropof Christianity as the majority religion, the implantation of a new faith group raises the question whether and to what extent present institutional arrangements are to be renegotiated. In this comparative chapter the authors compare the degree of institutional accomodation for Islam in the different countries and summarize and discuss the explanation provided by the authors of the ten chapters in Part II of the book. Since the structure and content of the ten country-chapters are not identical, a systematic comparison based exclusively on the country-chapters is difficult. This is why the authors will fall back on the comparative „Indices of Citizenship Rights for Immigrants“ (ICRI) dataset that Koopmans and Michalowski collected at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center. From this dataset only two indicators are relevant for the puposes of the book: „Cultural Rights for Immigrants“ and „Political Rights for Immigrants“.

Rights granted to immigrants in the field of cultural pluralism have expanded in many countries between 1980 and 2002, but were than restricted in the years between 2002 and 2008 in most countries. All countries in the sample are more liberal in terms of religious rights for Muslims in 2008 then they were in 1980. The Netherlands, closely followed by the United Kingdom, turn out to be the most liberal countries in regard to religious rights, whereas Switzerland is the most restrictive case in the sample. In guise of a conclusion only explanatory factors for the differences between the Netherlands/United Kingdom versus Switzerland are reported here.

Firstly, they differ on the function of citizenship. While the authors of the Dutch and the British chapters underline that citizenship has fostered Muslims´claims-making, the Swiss chapter explicitly mentions a survey among Muslims showing that citizenship was not considered an advantage in claims-making. Secondly, the countries differ with regard to their legal system. The Dutch and British chapter both mention that certain religious rights such as protection against blasphemy or educational freedom are covered by law and are therefore extended to Muslims. For Switzerland on the contrary, Gianni d´Amato underlines a specificity of the legal system that only requires equal treatment on fully comparable cases. In this logic, even smaller differences can be used as an argument to refuse Muslim accommodation. Thirdly, Muslim mobilization differed across the cases. In the Netherlands und the UK, Muslims have mobilized strongly for religious accommodation. Nothing the like happened in Switzerland and, as Gianni d´Amato notes: „Muslims in Switzerland have, at least in the public, come to define themselves mainly by what they are not.“

Part II: Islam in Selected European Countries

Chapter 3: Denmark. Traditionally, Denmark has not regarded itself as a country of immigration but within four decades of immigration the demographic profile of the country has changed. Alongside the process the process of immigration, groups of immigrants with different religious backgrounds have altered the religious landscape of Denmark. Islam has become the largest minority-religion in Denmark and this has resulted in new forms of religious symbols in Danish public and the construction of Muslim institutions such as burial places, educational institutions and prayer spaces. Until 1990 articulations on Muslims constituted a marginalized issue, which did not attract much attention in the public sphere, although the first debates on halal and hijâb was fundamental for the following discourse. According to this discourse, Muslims and their religious practices are distinctively different from Danish culture and Danish values vis-á-vis Danishness, which is why meat that is slaughtered according to Islam halal principles or Muslim women, wearing headscarves appears as something peculiar.

It is characteristic of the debate that Danishness in shape of debating issues such as ritual slaughter, the headscarf symbol, mosques and circumcision, are framed with point of departure in freezing the relation of „us“ and „them“. It is this culturalalistic relational thinking which is sedimented through the 1980s, which achieves hegemony in the Danish political counsciousness in the 1990s and expressed in the symbolic politics of the 2000s. This analysis indicates that Muslim religious practice and Muslim identity is often understood as a binary antagonism of all that is generally considered to be „Danish“; according to this logic, one cannot be a Muslim and a Dane at the same time. Because Muslim is the religion of „the others“, the religion of the Danish majority – The Evangelical-Lutheran Curch – becomes implicitly important as a central part of the articulation of Danish identity. Debates on Islam have been one of the most heated topics in Danish politics since the end of the 1990s. As the Danish model of Religion and State is changing, as the present government has promised in their Programme for Government, it will be of great interest to see whether a reformation of the Evangelical-Lutheran Curch is possible and whether Denmark will produce a religiously neutral, soft secular model to which is has been aspiring since Denmark´s first constitution was introduced in 1849.

Chapter 4: France. Since France has the largest Muslim community in Europe, and since Islam is the second most important religion in France numerically, it is not surprising that Islam is the subject of regular debates in French society. The evolution and the visibility of certain religious practices of Muslims challenge the mainstream vision of laicité, the French version of church-state relation. This raised several questions: What main legal problems have emerged due to the demands from Muslims that France now is faced with? How have French society and institutions responded to the settlement of Muslim immigrants, and how has the latter´s incorporation been facilitated, contested and negotiated? Finally, how have Muslim immigrants adopted their culture and institutional structures in their host society?

The former Minister of the Interior, Claude Guéant, with responsibility for religions, claimed in 2011: „In 1905, there were very few Muslims in France, today, there are between 5 and 10 million. This increase in the number of believers of certain forms of behavior poses a problem“. These link between social problems and the number of Muslims illustrate the fears and concerns of politicians and of large parts of French society that translate into a flourishing extreme right-wing tendency in politics and increasing distrust and hostility towards Muslim migrants from Muslim countries and their descendants, who are increasingly defined as Muslims. Their visible religious practices have frightened public authorities and a large part of the French population because they are often associated with a radicalism that threaten the French Republic. The definition of laicité is therefore becoming more and more restrictive in public debates (but not yet in law), extending the obligation of neutrality for civil servants to the rest of society. In addition, religious neutrality is increasingly understood as the absence of religion in the public and even the private spheres (companies, NGOs etc.).

Islam and Muslims face a paradoxical situation in France today. On th one hand, the legal regime that governs relations between religions and the state is coping with a strong evolution: laicité is a version of church-state relations that has been well defined by jurisprudence, the law and the constitution. However, there is an increasing discrepancy between the legal status of laicité and the manner in which it is represented in mainstream public opinion. A political, ideological and legal struggle is going on to extend the scope of laicité and secularism are tending to be mixed up. This development has been ill-received by Muslims, even by those with weak religious practice, since they view it as a proof of racism against them. However, rather than less important tolerance given to visible religious practices, some positive developments are real but kept hidden: for instance, the difficulties associated with mosques symbolize the „rootedness“ of Muslims in France.

Chapter 7: Spain. Although the Islam had a deep presence in the Iberian Peninsula between the eight and fifteenth centuries, Muslims have only recently emerged as a substantial religious minority in contemporary Spain. Today, roughly 1.7 million Muslims are residing in Spain, 70% of them our foreign nationals. Maroccans constitute the largest sub-group within Spain´s Muslim population as a result of the geographic proximity of the two countries, as well as historical linkages forged during Spain´s colonial endeavours in Northern Morocco. While the vast majority of Muslims residing in Spain are of foreign descent, Spanish converts to Islam have a strong and vocal presence on the country. Most of them are associated with the Murabitin movement, a transnational Sufi movement founded by the Scotsman, Ian Dallas. Towards the end of the 1990s Spain´s Muslim population began to increase precipitously due a major boom in the economy that generated significant employment opportunities in construction and services. Between 1996 and 2004, the number of Moroccan nationals residing in Spain rose from 90 000 to 420 000. By 2009, this number would grow to over 700 000.

At the national level, Spain became one of the few European countries to extend official recognotion to Islam, and the 1992 agreement between the state and the Islamic Commission of Spain (CIE) entitled Muslims to an extensive set of rights and privileges that is arguable without parallel in Europe. At the local level, several municipal governments actively encouraged the establishment of „cathedral mosques“in an effort to bolster the multicultural and cosmopolitan images of their cities. But the formal recognition is not in itself sufficient for ensuring adequate religious accommodationin practice, and may even serve as barrier to more bottom-up processes of religious mobilization and claims-making. In addition, many Muslims residing in Spain are not Spanish citizens and a relative large number lack proper legal documents.This had not only limited their political participation, but has also made them reluctant to interact with the juridical institutions regarding matters of religious freedom and acommodation. However, the modest rise in lawsuits concerning religious matters filed by Muslim individuals and organizations suggests that Muslims in Spain are beginning to feel more empowered to use public institutions to defend their religious identity and pracctices. This trend will likely increase as a growing number of Muslim youth born and raised in Spain comes of age.

Chapter 8: Sweden. The Muslim presence in Sweden in modern times is a fairly new phenomenon and therefore it is distinct from many other European countries with a colonial past. The first Muslim congregation was established 1949 in Stockholm by refugees from Estonia and were belonging to the ethnic group of Tartars. The establishment of permanent Muslim presence in Sweden society did not attract a lot of attention from the Swedish state or the political parties in parliament and therefore developed outside of the public eye. The number of individuals with a Muslim background in Sweden has been estimated at 450 000 in the year 2012. At the same it is important to stress that all statistics concerning religious affilation in Swedish society is highly problematic since there are no official statistics regarding ethnic or religious affilation.

The author identified four different discourses among the political elite, within the Swedish public policy debates, that compete to define and explain Islam and Muslims:

  1. A discourse on integration which dealt with issues such as education, independen schools, religious slaughter and a state sponsored Imam-education.
  2. A discourse concerning equality. It highlights the lack of equality between Muslim men and Muslim and non-Muslim women. Muslim women were largely described as subordinate and opressed. The description of Muslim men was based of stereotypes about violence and patriarchal values. The underlying mechanismus to explain these „non-Swedish values“ were made with reference both to Islam as a religion and Islamic culture.
  3. A discourse focusing on national security. In these areas, Islam and Muslims were largely represented as a potential security threat. Islam and Muslims were described as a challenge to a liberal, democratic and secular state. Islamic values (in particular Islamismus) were described as being on a collision course with Swedish values and with democratic institutions in Swedish society.
  4. A discourse on the homogenization and ethnification of Islam and Muslims. But there is rarely made any distinction between different interpretations of Islam, not even between Sunni and Shia. It also fails to highlight the differences and the ongoing competition that exists between the various Islamic orientations, traditions and organizations in Europe. This misconception produces an image of the Muslim Umma as united and thus as an existencial threat to Western democracy.

These political discourses on Islam and Muslim in Sweden are in many ways paradoxical. All political parties support the freedom of religion as a inviolable right. At the same time the public policy debates shows that Islam and Muslims are often portrayed as deviant or as a a threat to liberal democracy. Politicians and authorities granted themselves the right to define the „good forms of Islam“ that could fit into Swedish society. In conclusion, this highlights how the Swedish state and the political parties have tried to administer, channel and construct an acceptable version of Islam that incorporates moderate values, is secularized and liberal. At the same time there has also been several efforts from the Swedish state and the political parties to portray and confirm Islam and Muslims as a natural part and development of a religiously plurastic society.


It is difficult to understand, why the editors were not able to include in the book a special chapter about „Muslims in Germany“. In chapter 6 of part 1, the reader learns at least that Germany has only rank 8 among of 11 European countries for the indicator „Religious rights for immigrants“.

Target groups

Students and researchers in political science, sociology, migration studies, international relations and religious studies.


The volume is about the integration of Muslims in European countries. It starts with the message that on legal, political and oganizational levels integration has already taken place. It provides empirical analyses for the following ten European countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. It is decribed how Muslim life unfolds between convivality and contentious politics. The contributers explain demographic developments, analyse legal controversies, and explore the action of government and state, Muslim organisations and other civil society actors. Current driving forces of Islam are explained and discussed in detail and compared across countries.

Rezension von
Prof. Dr. Uwe Helmert

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Uwe Helmert. Rezension vom 02.10.2015 zu: Marian Burchardt, Ines Michalowski (Hrsg.): After Integration. Islam, Conviviality and Contentious Politics in Europe. Springer VS (Wiesbaden) 2014. ISBN 978-3-658-02594-6. In: socialnet Rezensionen, ISSN 2190-9245,, Datum des Zugriffs 20.10.2021.

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