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Integrating Islam

Integrating Islam
Jonathan Laurence & Justin Vaisse
Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2006
DC34.5 .M87 L38 2006

France is home to nearly 5 million Muslims, roughly half of whom are French citizens. While the nation has successfully integrated waves of immigrants in the past, this new influx poses a variety of daunting challenges, particularly when viewed against the backdrop of growing Islamic fundamentalism worldwide. Because of the size of its Muslim population and its universalist definition of citizenship, France provides a good test case for the encounter bewteen Islam and the West. Peaceful and successful integration of Muslims into Western societies is more critical than ever before. In this book, Jonathan Laurence and Justin Vaisse offer extensive and original insights into how such integration can be fostered in a diverse, secular democracy.

Many in France veiw the growing role of Muslims in their society with a jaundiced eye, as do others elsewhere, suspecting that new Muslim political and religious networks are a threat to European rule of law and the French way of life. Not surpisingly, however, the reality of the situation is far too complicated to be captured by slogans and slurs. Integrating Islam examines the complex reality of Muslim integration in France - its successes, failures, and future challenges.

Laurence and Vaisse paint a comprehensive and nuanced portrait of the French Muslim experience, from intermarraige rates to socioeconomic benchmarks. They pay special attention to public policies enacted by recent French governments to encourage integration and discourage extremism - for example, the controversial 2004 banning of headscarves in public schools and the establishment of the new French Council of the Muslim Religion. Despite the serious problems that exist, the authors foresee the emergence of a religion and a population that feel at home in, and at peace with, French society - a " French Islam" to replace "Islam in France."

Quoted from dust jacket.