Reluctant Partners

Turkey and the European Union

by Hilal Elver
published in MER235

Turkey passed a milestone in its long and arduous journey toward acceptance into the exclusive club of the European Union when the EU gave Turkey a date for the start of accession talks. But major obstacles remain -- chiefly resurgent anti-Muslim feeling in Europe and resurgent ethnic nationalism in Turkey.

Lions of Tawhid in the Polder

by Paul Aarts , Fadi Hirzalla
published in MER235

The murder of the controversial filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a radical Islamist youth induced a deep national trauma in the Netherlands. Very quickly, debate about the murder and the subsequent outbreak of anti-Muslim violence led to a larger and disturbing debate about the place of Muslims and Islam in the traditionally tolerant country -- and the meaning of tolerance itself.

The Republic's "Second Religion"

Recognizing Islam in France

by Mayanthi Fernando
published in MER235

The 2004 law banning "conspicuous" religious symbols (read, headscarves) in French public schools cast France as an intolerant and radically secular state hostile to the manifestation of difference, especially Muslim difference, in the public sphere. During debates about the new law, a clear distinction was drawn between French republicanism and an "Anglo-Saxon" multiculturalism decried by many French as a sure path to national disintegration. President Jacques Chirac even declared that France "would lose her soul" if she went the way of an Anglo-American pluralism that recognizes and accepts internal difference.