Joel S. Fetzer and J. Christopher Soper. Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany.

AuthorJackson, Pamela Irving
PositionBook review

Joel S. Fetzer and J. Christopher Soper. Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. 224 pages, hardcover, $ 60.00; paperback, $14.99.

FETZER AND SOPER OFFER A CAREFUL and incisive analysis of variations in the British, German and French state responses to Muslims' religious demands in three important areas of public policy: the accommodation of religious practices and teaching in public schools, the provision of state funding for Islamic schools, and the regulation of mosque building. Their work relies on historical and contemporary secondary literature, new interviews with religious and political leaders, and the authors' analysis of national public opinion survey data, some of which was commissioned for their book. The research is theoretically driven, involving three existing comparative political science theories and a new theory developed by the authors. Resource based mobilization theories, political opportunity structure theories emphasizing institutions' importance in shaping political demands and policies, and ideological theories stressing the significance of accepted ideas regarding government's role in public policy creation are examined. Compensating for the explanatory gaps of these theories, Fetzer and Soper illustrate the importance of a fourth area of theoretical inquiry, focusing on the impact of each nation's church-state relationship.

The authors cite three factors as motivating the study: first, the stark contrast between the importance of religious practice to Muslims in European societies and the greater secularity (and Christianity) of "native" European populations; secondly, the growing anti-Islamic tone of European right-wing political organizations' rhetoric; and finally, the authors' own recognition of the impact of church-state institutions in shaping state accommodation to Muslim religious practices. Fetzer and Soper provide a brief history of post-World War II immigration to Britain, France and Germany, considering the demographic impact of family reunification policies operating after immigration was restricted due to racial politics (in Britain) and (in France and Germany) economic decline (initiated by the 1970s oil crisis and deindustrialization). With their focus on the religious dimension of these changes, the authors seek to address an omission in the literature. They argue that previous studies have focused on the racial and cultural aspects of...

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