Mosques and the Domestication of Islam in the Netherlands

Friday, January 4, 2013: 3:30 PM
Chamber Ballroom IV (Roosevelt New Orleans)
Thijl Sunier, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Despite the widespread and well established secular political culture with a legal separation of church and state in most countries in Europe, many governments have a very active policy to monitor, regulate and control religion. These policies are not confined to the accommodation of religious diversity, but actively interfere in the very content of religious practices and convictions. Especially, but not exclusively, Islam is under constant scrutiny.  Although the urge to monitor Islam has increased considerably in the last decade, it is not just a post-9/11 security backlash as is often argued. These policies emanate from the logic of nation-state governance. Since many Muslims in Europe have a migratory background there is also a strong link with integration policies. The ‘domestication of Islam’ can be described as a specific form of cultural engineering and refers to political programs that emanate from the complex relationship between integration, and political priorities of security and national identity. It rests on a specific self-image about the character of the nation-state. Domestication of Islam works out differently in different political contexts and in different issues.

I will elaborate my argument by analyzing three mosque building projects in the Netherlands, two of which have resulted in an actual new prayer house, the third one has unofficially been declared dead recently. Not the final results, however, are important here but the long and protracting negotiations and struggles that accompanied the projects. They provide us with insight into the ways in which the domestication of Islam evolves in the Netherlands and the issues that are at stake.

See more of: The Mosque in Modern Europe
See more of: AHA Sessions
<< Previous Presentation | Next Presentation