Column » ‘By the Book’ with Joseph Preville
by JOSEPH RICHARD PREVILLE and JULIE POUCHER HARBIN for ISLAMiCommentary on FEBRUARY 8, 2016:
Are Muslims embraced as part of the mosaic of Europe? Or, are they considered and treated as outsiders, foreigners, and invaders? Political Scientist Peter O’Brien deconstructs this issue in his new book, The Muslim Question in Europe: Political Controversies and Public Philosophies (Temple University Press, 2016).
“There exists,” he writes, “no great, let alone unbridgeable, gulf in outlook or lifestyle forever separating ‘Islamic’ from ‘Western’ civilization.” He argues that there is not a “clash of civilizations,” but “clashes within Western civilization.”
O’Brien dissects the hotly-debated and contentious topics of headscarves, terrorism, and secularism (mosque-state relations) within the broad historical and political contexts of “intra-European tensions.” He argues that European Muslims should not be viewed “as a distinct group of political actors.” Rather, he states that European Muslims and non-Muslims both inhabit “a normative landscape in Europe dominated by the vying public philosophies of liberalism, nationalism, and postmodernism.”
O’Brien is Professor of Political Science at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He was educated at Kalamazoo College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has served as a Social Science Research Council Fellow at the Free University in Berlin and as a Fulbright Professor at Bogazici University in Istanbul and the Humboldt University in Berlin. O’Brien is the author of Beyond the Swastika (Routledge, 1996) and European Perceptions of Islam and America from Saladin to George W. Bush (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).
Peter O’Brien discusses his new book in this interview. Continue reading