Samira Shackle in New Humanist:
For many in the west, Islam has become a byword for terrorism. As Europe struggles with the refugee crisis, the question of Muslim integration has become an obsession across different European countries. Muslims who don’t assimilate are frequently seen as “the enemy within”. This negative feeling has fuelled populist political movements across the European continent. Nilüfer Göle is a Turkish sociologist based in Paris. Her new book, "The Daily Lives Of Muslims", attempts to provide a corrective to the distorted view of Muslim life frequently seen in the media. She spent time with Muslim communities in 21 cities across Europe where controversies over integration have arisen. Here, she discusses her findings.
What was your motivation for writing this book?
I was observing these controversies – for instance, over Islamic veiling, which started in the 1980s – and had the feeling it was getting worse. Public debates weren’t helping overcome stereotypes. On the contrary the polarisation was getting bigger, so I wanted to understand if there was something different to what we were observing in the media. I wanted to see what was happening in the places where these controversies were emerging, because it always involves real people and physical places, cities. Secondly, more philosophical, maybe existential, was the question: is there a possibility to create a relationship between two different cultures? To use the popular language of today – is it really possible to “live together”, with a Muslim presence in Europe? Do these controversies mean a deep cultural fracture or clash? Or is there a possibility within the conflict of a process which makes us familiar and elaborates new norms and ways of living?