Islam in France


Praying in the streets was banned in France in 2011. Photo: Bbc.co.uk

A recent article in National Geographic speculates that Marseilles may become the first city in Europe with a majority Muslim population. Official statistics are unavailable, but experts estimate that about 30 percent of the southeastern French city is Muslim.

Although the city is known for its tolerance, France as a whole is not, especially when it comes to its Muslim population. The country is home to about 6 million Muslims (the largest number in Western Europe), and is known for its bans on burqas, niqab, and for considering banning halal meat. Praying in the streets was also banned in 2011. At the end of 2011, the French Council of the Muslim Faith, an umbrella organization for various Muslim groups, released a study saying Islamophobia is on the rise in the country.

I spoke with John Bowen, Professor of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis about Islam in France. Bowen is the author of Can Islam be French? Pluralism and Pragmatism in a Secularist State. Continue reading

Is Islam compatible with [blank]?

Here’s a quick exercise: go to Google and start typing the following: “Is Islam compatible with.” What are some of the predictions Google gives you for the end of that sentence? I get: Is Islam compatible with democracy? Is Islam compatible with modernity? Is Islam compatible with secular pluralistic societies? Is Islam compatible with evolution?

Google search predictions for the phrase "Is Islam compatible with..."

In comparison, when I type, “Is Christianity compatible with,” I get evolution, capitalism, yoga, and free masonry. Hinduism gets only one prediction: Christianity. Buddhism gets science, Christianity, atheism, and Judaism. Incidentally, there are no predictions for “Is Judaism compatible with.”

When Google predicts the end of your search, they’re looking for results based on what others before have searched for frequently. So although the exercise is admittedly trite, the message could not be clearer. People (or at least people who use Google) question Islam’s compatibility with fundamental political ideologies (democracy, modernity, secularism) much more regularly than they do other religions. Continue reading

Future of Secularism in Iran

This is a guest post by Saideh Jamshidi, an Iranian-American journalist who is doing graduate study in journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Last month, I attended a conference at Lake Forest College about the “Future of Secularism and the Public Role of Religion in Iran,” where a group of intellectuals and university professors gathered to discuss the future of secularism in the Middle East and Iran’s role in shaping this phenomenon.

Ahmad Sadri

Ahmad Sadri

“Iran is the only country in that part of the world where we have a grassroots massive movement towards secularization”, said Ahmad Sadri, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Lake Forest College and the chair of Islamic World Studies.

Interview with Ahmad Sadri: [audio:http://insideislam.wisc.edu/audio/dStory/AhmadSadri.mp3]

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Hip Hop Diplomacy and The Boom Generation

Hip hop and diplomacy are just as unlikely a pair as heavy metal and Islam to the Western mind. Nevertheless, hip hop and heavy metal are popular forms of music among youth in the Middle East. As in every society, the younger generation struggles to find alternatives to tradition through travel, study, and rebellion. The next generation in the Middle East faces the pressure of rebuilding a region after years of war. They are playing metal and hip hop to rebel against the surrounding culture of violence and war. Popular music suggests that a lot of Muslim youth are choosing an alternative to political activism, living their daily lives apart from ethnic and religious conflict with politics in the West.

Hip Hop Diplomacy in Morocco

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Heavy Metal Bands from Across the Globe

We only had an hour on yesterday’s Here on Earth show on heavy metal and Islam. That’s not enough time to cover a wide range of innovative music from around the world, some of which we just couldn’t fit all into the program. Dan, a producer for the show and part of the Inside Islam team, collected a series of videos to share with readers today.

More heavy metal bands after the break…

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