Sarah Carol, Ruud Koopmans
Dynamics of contestation over Islamic religious rights in Western Europe

Ethnicities, 2013: 13, Heft 2, S. 165-190
ISSN: 1468-7968 (print); 1741-2706 (online)

All European countries are confronted with claims by Islamic groups for religious rights in the public domain, as well as counterclaims by those who want to deny Muslims such rights. Examples are controversies over mosque construction, religious education and the right to wear headscarves and burqas. We show that across European countries there are striking differences in the kind of rights for Muslims around which public conflicts centre. Issues that are highly controversial in some countries are entirely absent from the debate in other countries. We explain these differences with reference to national path dependencies resulting from existing church–state arrangements and immigrant integration policy traditions. Using the method of political claims analysis, we conducted analyses of the German, Swiss, Dutch, Belgian, French and UK media debates on religious rights for Muslims, based on a selection of 30 national newspapers for the period 1999–2008.