Do European Muslims feel ostracized?
Dalia Mogahed is a Senior Analyst and Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, a nonpartisan research center dedicated to providing data-driven analysis on the views of Muslim populations around the world. With John L. Esposito, Ph.D., she is coauthor of the book Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think. Her analysis has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy magazine, the Harvard International Review, the Middle East Policy journal, and many other academic and popular journals. She travels the globe engaging diverse groups on what Muslims around the world really think.
Mogahed leads the analysis of Gallup's unprecedented survey representing the opinions of more than 1 billion Muslims worldwide, including Muslims in the West. She also directs the Muslim-West Facts Initiative, through which Gallup, in collaboration with the Coexist Foundation, is disseminating the findings of the Gallup World Poll to key opinion leaders in the Muslim World and the West. She is a member of Women in International Security, serves on the leadership group of the Project on U.S. Engagement with the Global Muslim Community, and is a member of the Crisis in the Middle East Task Force of the Brookings Institution.
Dalia Mogahed: We actually have done some work on Muslim minorities in the west in London, Paris and Berlin. And we found some very interesting and very surprising evidence to show that Muslims are no more likely than the general public in these countries to feel alienated from the nation that they have chosen to live.
In fact, believe it or not, in London, Muslims are more likely than the general public to say that they identify strongly with the U.K. as their country. The general theme is that Muslims identify strongly with their nation, and at the same time also identify strongly with their faith. And we did not find any evidence to show that the two were trade-offs.
So for example, those who identified strongly with their faith were not more likely to identify less strongly with their nation; that the two were mutually enriching, not mutually exclusive; national and religious identities mutually enriching, not mutually exclusive.
Where Muslims in these countries and the general public differ most was on issues of social morality. So what Muslims actually mirrored where we would expect to find conservative American Christians. So where thought that things like abortion, extramarital affairs and these types of issues were morally wrong, whereas the general European social norm was that these things, of course, were non-issues.
So whereas Muslims identified strongly with their nation – and in fact were more likely than the general population to favor mixed neighborhoods; so they weren’t interested in isolating; they were different than the general population in social, moral outlook.
So the question really becomes, Is that difference an issue? Or are diverse societies always going to have differences in social morality? And I think that Europe could really learn by looking to the United States, where there is a huge amount of diversity in our own outlook as Americans as to social issues; but at the end of the day we’re still all American. And we don’t make it some kind of a litmus test in terms of cultural conformity to measure the amount of “Americanness” that one holds.
And that same concept, I think, needs to translate into many of these European societies so that they don’t alienate their Muslim citizens. We actually asked women in these countries, “Do you wear hijab?” And in both cases – when they said “yes” or “no” – we asked why. And what we found is that by far the most frequent response of why women do wear hajib was very simply that it was their religious conviction to do so. So nobody essentially said it was a statement in defiance of the culture of Europe, or was a political statement or a statement of defiance. An overwhelming majority just simply said it was their religious conviction.
At the same time, only about 2% said that it was something that a male relative asked them to do. So, at least according to our data, this is something that people are choosing to do. And they’re doing it just for the most simple reason ever: because they believe it is required by their faith.
And that brings us to the second point of, “What does it mean when it’s banned?” If people do believe in their own belief system that this is a requirement of their faith, and the state is prohibiting them from carrying out an aspect of their faith, how can we in a liberal society support such an act by the state to prevent the free practice of religion? Especially in a way where it’s simply not affecting anyone else. It’s how a woman chooses to dress.
I think what needs to be understood, and really what the data clearly shows, is that hajib; its meaning should not be overestimated as a political statement. It is simply an act of piety.
Recorded on: July 3, 2007.
British Muslims are more likely than the general public to say that they identify strongly with the U.K. as their country.
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- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
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Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
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It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
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