Islam, European Public Sphere & Turkish ethno-nationalists


Islam is played out in new migrant subjectivities, embodied practices, and aesthetic forms; it is reinterpreted and enacted by “ordinary Muslims” in the everyday life of European cities. Is the possibility to open up the debate on the future of the European public sphere in its confrontational encounters with EuroIslam exist?

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Europe’s homegrown Turkish ethno-nationalists
Interview with the French-Turkish sociologist Nilufer Gole

Europa als Nährboden für türkischen Ethno-Nationalismus [German version:]

 

Luca SteinmannAccording to a number of analysts, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wishes to be recognised as a leader not only by his citizens, but also by people of Turkish origin living in Europe, not to mention Sunni Muslims. What strategies could he use to try to bind European Muslims to Turkey??

Nilufer Gole: Migration movements in European countries are linked to a number of social and political issues that are specifically Turkish. In Europe, this applies most notably to the confrontation between Erdogan’s supporters and his opponents. It is not that there is no opposition against the Turkish president among Turks living abroad. We have been trying to answer the question as to whether and to what extent the government in Ankara assumes a leadership function for Turks living abroad for many years. It is a fact that Turkey exerts considerable soft power on many citizens of Turkish origin abroad.

This influence can be divided into two periods: between 1980 and 2010, the Turkish model manifested itself in the form of cultural festivals, television series, plays and various publications. Back then, Erdogan promoted this kind of soft power. In recent years, the Turkish model has taken an ethno-national turn, using Islam as a political instrument. These days we refer to it as “Sunnification”. How consistently the European Turks follow this model depends on how accepted they feel in the societies of the countries in which they live. The greater the degree of exclusion, the greater their openness to this ideology.

Luca SteinmannWhat were the European countriesʹ greatest mistakes when it came to integrating these “new citizens”?

 

 

 

Nilufer Gole: Many European countries have failed to integrate their Muslim and Turkish citizens. This opportunity has been missed. In 2010, the Turkish government began to pursue a transnational strategy. The difficulties in creating a synthesis between Muslim citizens and their European homelands is today bringing us growing mutual extremism: on the one hand, we find neo-populists dreaming of homogenous societies that exclude foreigners. On the other hand, the success of movements like Milli Gorus is growing. This movement is especially strong in Germany. It offers the Turks a nationalist perspective that is as dangerous as it is counterproductive.

The worse the situation regarding the inclusion of Muslims, the greater the chances of success of Milli Gorus are. Another mistake is the belief that a multicultural society can basically be created from scratch. But the road is long. The European societies and their citizens with a migrant background need to find their own way of living together.

☛ Are there any successful examples of such original coexistence?

☛ The role of Mesut Ozil, a German football player of Turkish origin, who retired from the German national football team after he had himself photographed with Erdogan, came in for much discussion this year.

☛ Migration flows also have an impact on the relationship between Europe and Turkey. The Turkish government is accused of using migrants as a means of exerting pressure on Europe. [Read the Answers]

Islam is played out in new migrant subjectivities, embodied practices, and aesthetic forms; it is reinterpreted and enacted by “ordinary Muslims” in the everyday life of European cities. The visibility of Muslims in public life unsettles the established spatial boundaries and has a disruptive effect on prevalent secular norms. A series of controversies around Islamic praxis, namely covering, praying, dietary habits, halal lifestyles, and the representation of sacred figures, have set the public agendas of Euroeapn politics during the last three decades. This lecture attempts to open up the debate on the future of the European public sphere in its confrontational encounters with EuroIslam.

 

Islam in the (Un) Making of a European Public Sphere lecture [Lecture video]

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