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A Looming "Disaster" for European Muslims?

Question: Where do you think Europe’s Muslim assimilation \r\nissue will stand in 2050?
Joan Wallach Scott:  Well two things I can always plead, \r\nright?  One, I’ll be dead by 2050, so it won’t matter to me and second, \r\nas a historian I always look back rather than forward, but those aren’t \r\nfair excuses for this.  I think that unless the countries of Europe \r\nfigure out an accommodation with these populations it’s going to be \r\ndisastrous.  It’s going to be increasingly... increasing numbers of riots,\r\n increasing divisions, not only along economic lines, but along \r\nreligious and ethnic lines and it will be a disaster.  I mean I think \r\nfor me the most interesting thing I’ve seen and it is not a perfect \r\ndocument was the Bouchard/Taylor report that came out of Quebec.  Do \r\nyou know about this?  It’s a report.  Charles Taylor the philosopher and\r\n Gerard Bouchard, I can’t remember what he does, were asked to write a \r\nreport about the accommodation of Muslims in Quebec and there it was a \r\nparticularly hot issue because Quebec is secular, although there is a \r\nlarge Catholic population that wants to press very hard for control or \r\npolitical influence in certain ways and they came up with a report about\r\n what accommodation and where to draw the lines and what mattered and \r\nwhat didn’t matter and I thought it was the most sensible document I’d \r\nseen in a really long time because it requires adherence to the \r\npolitical principles of the nation and of the region—democratic ones, \r\nrepublican ones—at the same time that it is pluralist in its tolerance, \r\nin its…  Tolerance is a wrong word because as one of my friend keep \r\nsaying, “Tolerance means that you abide by something you don’t really \r\nlike.”  I think "recognition" is the better term. So you recognize that \r\nthere are certain kinds of practices that need to be respected on the \r\npart of Muslim populations, praying five times a day for those who do, \r\nplaces where you can wash your feet and your hands before you pray.  On \r\nthe other hand you say "We draw the line here." If you’re at a hospital \r\nand the only doctor on is a male doctor and you’re a woman you take it—which in fact many of the interpreters of the Koran will tell is already\r\n there to be or of Hadiths that come out of the Koran is already understood\r\n to be a practice and so on. But so you know "Here are the lines.  Here \r\nis what constitutes respect and recognition.  Here is what constitutes \r\nthe limit that can be placed on the kinds of demands that can be made of\r\n a more general public and of a more multicultural public.  You can’t \r\nimpose your will, your truth on all of us." So it seems to me that that’s\r\n the kind of accommodation.  That is the kind of policy that has to be \r\ndeveloped.  Whether or not it will is another question. 
\r\nThere is also a group of feminists in France who are Muslim feminists \r\nwho wear the hijab and French feminists, that is we would call them \r\n"white," but you know, French, French, Francais [...] they call native \r\nFrench.  I mean all of these terms are loaded and it is very difficult \r\nto use them, but okay, so there are secular French women and headscarf \r\nMuslim French women and they came up with a statement of principle which\r\n seems to me to offer some of the answers and it is: "We are for \r\nequality in all realms. We are against the subordination of any \r\ngroups or individuals. No forced wearing of headscarves. No forced\r\n removal of headscarves."  And that seems to me to sort of be pointing \r\ntowards the kinds of accommodation that Bouchard/Taylor offered in \r\nQuebec and that needs to be really addressed and thought through not \r\nonly in France, but in the countries of Europe.  I think if they don’t \r\ndo it, it’s... one doesn’t even want to think about what the future, the \r\ndifficulties, the tensions, the humiliations, the riots.  You know think\r\n of the 2005 riots.  I mean I think more and more of that will be the \r\ncase unless there is some really serious effort to pick up some of these\r\n suggestions that have been made and work with them.

Recorded April 26th, 2010
\r\nInterviewed by Austin Allen

Unless the countries of Europe figure out how to accommodate Muslim immigrant populations, there will be increasing numbers of riots, and increasing divisions along economic, religious and ethnic lines.

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