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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Integrating Islam in France (and Europe)

Integrating Islam in France (and Europe)

Jonathan Laurence, Boston College
24 Quincy Road, Boisi Center
Time: 12:00-1:15 pm

headshot of Jonathan Laurence

While European states have successfully integrated waves of immigrants in the past, the recent settlement of a large Muslim population poses a variety of daunting challenges, particularly when viewed against the backdrop of growing Islamic fundamentalism worldwide. Because of the size of its Muslim population and its universalist definition of citizenship, France provides a good test case for the encounter between Islam and the West. In a new book, BC asst. prof. Jonathan Laurence (political science) and co-author Justin Vaisse offer extensive and original insights into how such integration can be fostered in a diverse, secular democracy. Many in France and elsewhere view the growing role of Muslims in their society with a jaundiced eye, suspecting that new Muslim political and religious networks are a threat to European rule of law and the French way of life. Not surprisingly, however, the reality of the situation is far too complicated to be captured by slogans and slurs. Integrating Islam examines the complex reality of Muslim integration in France-its successes, failures, and future challenges.

Jonathan Laurence is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Boston College. He holds a B.A from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University. His principal areas of teaching and research are Comparative Politics, European Politics, and the integration of Muslims into European politics and society. Prof. Laurence is an Affiliated Scholar with the Center on the U.S. and Europe at the Brookings Institution, where he has also been a Visiting Fellow. His most recent publications include Integrating Islam: Political and Religious Challenges in Contemporary France (Brookings, 2006), co-authored with Justin Vaïsse; and "Managing Transnational Islam: Muslims and the State in Western Europe," in Craig Parsons and Timothy Smeeding, eds., Immigration and the Transformation of Europe (Cambridge, 2006).