European Union, Islam & the Challenges of Multiculturalism:

19-10-2008 | Sami ZEMNI & Christopher PARKER (UGent)

Rethinking the Problematique*

Bron: Internet

07/02/2008 - Sami ZEMNI & Christopher PARKER (UGent)  

European Union, Islam & the Challenges of Multiculturalism: Rethinking the Problematique* Sami ZEMNI & Christopher PARKER Center For Third World Studies/Middle East Institute Ghent University, Belgium Accompanying the accelerated drive toward European Union (EU) integration and expansion has been an effort to construct and promote a concept of common European identity and culture.  More specifically, it has been posited that European national cultures share a common essence, or values set—e.g. democracy, tolerance, respect for human rights, etc.—that allow the continent’s national communities/polities to collaborate within a coherent European civilizational constellation.  The underlying premise has been summed up in the Charter of European Identity: “Europe is above all a community of values.  The aim of unification is to realize, test, develop and safeguard these values.  They are rooted in common legal principles acknowledging the freedom of the individual and social responsibility.  Fundamental European values are based on tolerance, humanity and fraternity.  Building on its historical roots in classical antiquity and Christianity, Europe further developed these values during the course of the renaissance, the Humanist movement, and the Enlightenment, which led in turn to the development of democracy, the recognition of fundamental and human rights, and the rule of law.” (n.p.) These values are presented as growing organically and inevitably out of a uniquely European history.  It is taken for granted that European national cultures have been fundamentally shaped by this history. Reference to local European cultures within the context of EU integration serves to ease public and political anxiety regarding the pace and uncertain consequences of rapid political and economic union.  It ameliorates feelings of loss of control by the European citizen.   It creates the link of equivalence between local identities and the grand project; to be Flemish, for example, is to be European, and thus to have a culturally grounded link with the above mentioned values.  The European identity is in turn linked to the project of EU integration, thus completing the circle.  At a time when political and economic rules of the game are being changed through and in support of the process of EU integration and expansion, the references to culture lend the project a mantle of stability and continuity.  This construction of a “multicultural Europe” has thus become an ideological cornerstone of European integration.  It lends the project its aura of teleological fulfillment, its universal pretensions, and its moral veneer.  It sets the ideological framework for inclusion and, significantly, for exclusion.  Indeed, inasmuch as other cultures / civilizational projects contain these quintessentially European values, it is seen as largely by virtue of proximity to and interaction with Europe. It must be noted up front that in spite of its universalist and essentialist claims, the European multiculturalist vision serves specific interests that limit the meanings that can be attached to it.  It is a notion de-legitimizing local opposition to the frictionless movement of capital and goods across the continent; it protects European labor and farmers against the proximity of cheap labor/production in Europe’s periphery; and it offers capital an ever more efficient political base from which to exploit this proximity.   Accordingly, after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, it was the economically interesting countries (e.g. Hungary, The Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia) that were eligible for inclusion in the Union. The ideological legitimation of this enterprise was based on the so-called existence of ‘Central Europe.’ Detrez has shown how this idea of Central Europe was created during the eighties by and around well-known intellectuals and writers such as Konrad and Kundera (Detrez). The idea was given a new content in the 1990s.  Central Europe became the ‘natural’ extension of the European Union as it shared those cherished values of tolerance, democracy and freedom.    The concealment of the economic logic behind European expansion is not the work of a ‘conspiracy’ of managers, bankers or industry lobbies. It is the outcome of the late capitalist logic at work in a context of globalisation where the economy is seen as a value-free field responding automatically to the wants and needs of the people. As capitalism is unquestioned, (there is no compelling “European” alternative at hand), it seems that critical people have engaged in the outlet of the fight for multiculturalism, the right(s) and protection of cultural differences. Of course these two enterprises are dialogical, as the growing success of cultural discourses (on religion, identity, ethnicity, local community, etc.) covers up and gives credentials to the idea of the ‘neutrality of capitalism’.    The Union posited three basic conditions for membership: European identity, democratic status and respect for human rights (Delgado-Morieras). The vagueness and abstract character of these conditions make them very malleable instruments of policy.  In any case, European culture is reduced to those histories, myths, ideas and patterns of expression that justify and promote the economic and political project of European integration.  That fascist or military regimes held power in current European Union (EU) states such as Greece, Spain and Portugal as late as the 1970s can be excused by the mythmakers as an aberration, not recent takes on an essentially European theme.  Indeed, bringing these three nations into the EU was seen as an important obligation aimed at nurturing their “truer European essence.”  This can be viewed in contrast to the EU’s stance toward Turkey, which has been excluded in spite of its intensive campaign for membership.  While European leaders do have objective and legitimate concerns about practices of the Kemalist state, the underlying tone of the European discussion about Turkey’s membership is that the Turks are culturally “not up to it.”  In other words, the repressive and exclusivist practices of the Turkish state are not mere slips on the path toward the fulfillment of the European enlightenment project, but reflect a fundamental incomprehension of it.  Eastern Europe, on the other hand, became an ideal vantage-point for the European Union to see itself as an idealized, loveable entity.   II   Against this backdrop, Islam has been reconstructed in the European discourse as something of an “anti-Europe:” a civilizational concept diametrically opposed and potentially in conflict with that of Europe.  The Iranian  revolution, the Rushdie affair, the surge of Islamist inspired anti-occupation and anti-regime militancy, the authoritarian Arab regimes themselves, the rise of the Taliban: all have been held up as examples of a  fundamentally different cultural dynamic and trajectory.  That the dynamics underpinning these phenomena are in fact strongly inter-related to and share interdependence with the European and global systems is not considered.  For example, the thought that Islamist movements are challenging not the capitalist system per se, but rather the distribution of resources and power within that system is ideologically difficult to consider, given the current hegemonic notion of capitalism’s neutrality.  The notion that violence in Europe’s periphery is ethnic or cultural conceals the possibility that many current conflicts might represent the instrumentalization of violence in ways that afford new actors relatively efficient access to this capitalist system.  Add to this the European and US support for authoritarian regimes that protect their economic interests, and phenomenon like the Cold War inspired US support for Afghani mujahidin, and one clearly problematizes the intellectual construction of exceptionalism and uniqueness.   In any case, that the supposed cultural differences have the potential to express themselves in conflict with Europe—a notion most prominently expressed through Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” thesis—has taken a strong hold in European political discourse and popular consciousness.  For example, in the early 1990s, Willy Claes, the then NATO secretary-general, pinpointed ‘Islamic fundamentalism’[1] as the new threat to Europe. As the former enemy had disappeared, NATO had to look for a new scapegoat.  It is beyond the scope of this paper to challenge the assumptions of this thesis in detail. Suffice it to say that the notion is based on a large degree of Western self-idealization.  It also elevates culture to the status of independent actor in political and social processes (i.e. it supports the notion that the decisions that lead to conflict are not rational considerations of structural opportunities and constraints, but the inevitable outcome of a cultural logic). It grounds itself in a rather superficial reading of the empirical dynamics and interests that motivate actors and drive conflict.  But problematic though these assumptions might be, they have profoundly influenced the dominant discourse of European cultural exceptionalism.    That Europe’s immediate periphery is populated by Muslims, and that this periphery has contributed strongly to the significant increase in migration to Europe over the past decade (reaching a highpoint in 2000 and early 2001) has allowed this subjective discourse to take shape against events in the real world.  Public and political anxieties—justified or not—have been given a palpable focus.  Most significantly for the focus of this essay, there has been a strong tendency to express these anxieties not in terms of the challenges that this migration poses in terms of humanitarian assistance (i.e. finding shelter and jobs), but in terms referring to a supposed threat migration poses to local European cultures, and to the grand European cultural values in general.  The expression of suspicions and/or anxieties in terms that highlight a supposed challenge or threat to parochial identities and norms are legitimate, (as long as they are not expressed in violent or overtly racist terms), because the particular local culture is logically seen as the bulwark against the threat to the European idea as a whole.   III   This brings us to a second arena in which the concept of multiculturalism has been applied and contested—the perceived failure of migrants/immigrants of non-European origin to integrate into host societies.  The social construction of the migrant—and the Muslim migrant in particular—as a problematic participant in European social and political life has occurred against the backdrop of two objective demographic movements during the last half-century.  The first is the migration of laborers and their families from developing countries to fill low wage jobs in European economies between the early 1950s, when migration was encouraged, and the 1970s, when economic downturns led most European states to impose immigration stops.  The second trend regards the dramatic increase in the numbers of people fleeing conflict and/or political and economic insecurity in their home countries and arriving in Western Europe since the end of the Cold War.   By the mid 1980s, observers looking into the phenomena of migration and settlement began referring to “the realities of a multicultural Europe.”  This did not refer to the positive interaction of distinct communities in a common project, but rather the challenge or threat posed by apparent inability of immigrant groups to “get ahead” in the European context.  In the political discourse that has emerged since the late-1980s, this apparent failure to integrate has been viewed in cultural terms—i.e. as a failure to adopt styles and practices of daily life considered compatible with the norms of hegemonic national cultures.  Furthermore, while in the 1970s the Other was a guest-worker from Turkey, Morocco or Algeria, today they are all Muslims. The shift in this image is synchronic with the advent of Islamist movement in the Arab World and the world political scene. Suddenly, Islam was something in movement, something in resurgence or revival. Migrants, whose ‘problems’ had been seen as a consequence of their low socio-economic status during decades, were now perceived as ‘culturally different’. Through this ‘intellectual operation’ the whole debate on ‘communalism’ gained prominence.  By de-linking the migrant from nationality, and linking her/him onto a civilizational/cultural matrix, it became possible to problematize the migrant’s presence without appearing prejudiced, but indeed with the pretense of defending European values.  The Individual Other seemed to disappear, as he was being revamped as a mere component of a community. The foreigner/stranger is repatriated into his group of origin whether he likes it or not.   The notion that the migrant is engaged in and responding to a variety of sociological processes that influence attitudes and choices is generally considered of secondary significance, if it is considered at all.  The debate on Islam is couched in cultural terms and not in terms of flows of migration, societal discrimination or class politics. Indeed, the assumptions underpinning what is really meant by the notion of integration are rarely questioned or challenged.[2]  That this observation arose against the backdrop of the current European project is probably not coincidental.  It seems clear that these two discourses have fused and interacted in ways that reinforce a notion of culture as a primary determinant of political behavior, and which take for granted that different cultures represent fundamentally fixed, closed and opposing visions of social and political life.[3]  Consequently, embedded within this discourse is a suspicion that the migrant—being essentially determined by his or her culture of origin—is inherently incapable of meeting and respecting the demands and responsibilities of citizenship in the “secular” European state.   Thus, to the problematique of “Islam and Europe” discussed above, one can add the socially constructed problematique of “Islam in Europe.”  The construction of this discourse at both levels profoundly influences the way European publics and policy makers view and interact with Europe’s Muslim communities, and have real consequences for the Muslims themselves.  These consequences have implications for how Muslim immigrants/migrants perceive the possibility and desirability of broader civic participation.  In particular, the way in which the discourse might acutally legitimize certain discriminatory practices puts the migrant in a socially defensive position.    Methodologically, there is a real problem with the assumptions of the problematique becoming self-fulfilling.  For example, one never asks whether or not the Muslim migrant whose social and political engagement / awareness does not extend far beyond the horizons of his neighborhood and family is really fundamentally “less integrated” than the Flemish inhabitant of a working class neighborhood whose horizons similarly do not extend too far beyond the local pub.  The question of integrated into what?, and how?, seldom arises.  Of course, given the hegemonic nature of the discourse of European identity, the observer is equally disinclined to analyze the Flemishs’s tendency to vote for the extreme right Flemish Bloc party in terms of trends in Catholic thought that had a strong hold in Flanders around the turn of the last century, or in terms of post-Enlightenment romanticism of the nation—a uniquely European contribution to the history of ideas and conflict.  Similarly, the idea that Islam can actually contribute to the migrant’s potential for a constructive and peaceful social and civic life in the host state—while explored and confirmed in some scholarly research—is not even considered in the mainstream of social and political discourse.  That “Islam in Europe” poses a “problem” for, or “challenge” to, European norms (both as bearers of alternative values, and as provocateurs of Europe’s fascist and rightist inclinations) is simply taken for granted.   IV   The notion of the Muslim as cultural provocateur is apparent in daily life and in policy discourse.  While immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America are perhaps viewed as refugees from an artifact culture aspiring towards European cultural norms, Muslims are often seen as unwilling to adopt dominant styles and rituals.  European policy makers and publics have read fundamental rejection into these differences in style.  The European worker who takes a five minute break to smoke a cigarette is exercising a right and is not seen as disrupting the workplace, while the request of a Muslim for a five minute break for prayers is dramatized and seen as problematic. Furthermore, non-Muslim migrants have been regulated by and interact with the state as individuals.  Due to both the structural circumstances of their migrations, and the assumption of policy makers about their communities, European states have tended to interact and attempt to regulate people of Muslim origin with reference to groups, often in cooperation with the migrants’ country of origin.    Although it would seem very important to try and understand “the problem of integration” with reference to the variety of processes and situations within which Muslims in Europe engage in the politics and decision making of daily life, this is very rarely done in practice.  Indeed, as suggested in the above discussion, the very ways in which we think about what integration means and how it is constituted is problematic.  Is the 20 percent of the Flemish population that voted for the right wing Flemish Bloc party in recent elections un-integrated?  Perhaps this is indeed the case, depending on the criteria used.  The point emphasized here, however, is that it is too often taken for granted that “integration” is a self-evident and easy to grasp concept, when in fact it is a very subjectively constituted concept.  Indeed, as self-respecting democracies cannot pass racist laws, they are not keen on proposing any substantial criteria that could be enforced through law.[4] The fact is that positing criteria would lead also to the possibility of using these criteria to check “the Flemish-ness of a person of Flemish origin” or the “Belgian-ness of a ‘native’ Belgian”. Fortunately, this seems ludicrous to most of the autochthonous population as well.  In practice, integration refers first and foremost to the conditions that migrants have to fulfill in order to benefit from their presence in European societies.  It is a politically constructed and politically contested concept; there are no “objective” criteria attached to it.   Talking about integration also makes it easier on the autochthonous population to bypass the structures of racism.  Defining Europe along the idealized lines discussed above makes it possible to see multiculturalism as generic part of its identity. Multiculturalism becomes self-validating in the sense that is not conceptualized as a ‘societal project to be constructed’ but as an element that has always been part of the European identity. Thus, if there are ‘cultural tensions’ within society (whether they take a religious or ethnic form) it is easy to pinpoint the ‘Other’ as a cause of these conflicts. If we are multicultural and there still persist some conflict, this means that the Other has not adapted himself to European culture. The debates are formulated in such a way that the Muslim communities should integrate into multicultural reality and if they do not succeed than this has something to do with ‘their culture’.  It is the Other that has to ‘assimilate’ things, and in evaluating “assimilation,” stylistic differences are often elevated to crucial ideological distinctions. The consequence is that the Other, and especially the Muslim, can be easily seen – instead as a victim of discrimination – as an offender, as the provocateur of Euro-racism. Remi Hauman, a Belgian orientalist has no qualms writing in a mainstream and largely diffused daily: “With Islam an intolerant worldview has penetrated our societies and is nourishing intolerant groups from within our ranks (the Flemish Bloc)” and “The sometimes nagging mentality [of Muslims] can annoy some people and is the basis on which the extreme-right prospers”. (Hauman, 17)  Islam is problematic even as a subaltern[5] feature of the “ideal” European landscape.   V It is here again a notion of Islam, and not the individual Muslim, that is the presumed actor on the social and political stage.  The above mentioned mechanisms make clear that the debate is structured around the key concept Islam much more than around Muslims. The agency of Muslims seems to disappear underneath the leaden weight of a ‘cultural system’ that conditions, regulates and explains all behaviour of Muslims. “When it has the occasion it [Islam] tends automatically to absolute domination and is therefore undemocratic” (Hauman, 17).  Hauman should review the histories of the French Revolution, the Inquisition, Zionism, and nationalism, etc to see that the same is true of any ideological tendency.  In any case, Islam becomes the actor in this line of thinking.  It is not Muslims who produce their history, but Islam that conditions the behaviour and identity of Muslims.  In the end a Muslim is reduced to an automaton, endlessly perpetuating the religious prescriptions of Islam.  The structural weight accorded or ascribed to Islam stands in sharp contrast with the individualism attributed to ‘European attitudes’.   The problem of domestic violence, for example, clearly illustrates this differential approach. When a Belgian man is accused of beating his spouse, he is negatively judged by society. His violence is seen as a personal flaw. People try to understand his behaviour by looking for reasons that could account for it. Maybe he was himself a beaten child, maybe the family had financial problems, etc. When a person from Muslim background is accused of the same thing however, this contextualization disappears.  The beating of a wife is explained through Islam, and reference can always be made to one or the other Koranic verse that “proves” the deterministic relation between religion and the specific action. The difference in approach is very important for the European self-image. Domestic violence is seen as the outcome of deviant individual behaviour, and not as the outcome of structural and/or cultural features of European civilization. The same mechanism is at work in the analyses of racism. Racism is understood as obnoxious behaviour but not as a structural feature of Europe[6].   The sense that the growing visibility of Islam in Europe—i.e. the publication of Islam; its entrance into the public sphere—somehow poses a threat rather than a “normal” interest based mobilization in a pluralist society seems clearly related to the rise of the European culturalist paradigm. The growing societal demands of Muslims are not seen as evidence that Muslims feel at home in Europe and that they want to find their place within these societies. Instead, the demands for the building of mosques, the possibility of eating hallal food in schools, or the introduction of certain religious holidays is seen as a threat to European civilization or a danger for secular democracy.   VI   European states react to and deal with Muslims in different ways. Many “Islamic” organizations are regulated by European states in collusion with relevant ministries in a migrants country of origin (a fact that should certainly be considered in evaluations of integration processes and their meanings).[7]  The strength of individual organizations, their commitment to lobbying, an organization’s specific policies concerning the ‘integration’ of Muslims, the presence of stronger or weaker xenophobic political parties, colonial histories, the accessibility of citizenship are only some of the contextual factors that influence the relationship between migrants and host European states.  Today, one can say that the policy decisions surrounding regulation is situated within a “post-political” context.  Slavoj Zizek has defined post-politics as the situation in which   “the conflict between the ideological world-visions—as embodied in different parties that are in competition over the exercise of power—is being replaced by the cooperation of enlightened technocrats (economists, opinion polls, etc) and liberal multiculturalists.  This leads to compromises that are attained by way of negotiation and the watching of interests, and that are presented as more or less a universal consensus”  (Zizek, 25)   With the watering down of ideological positions, Islam has assumed the role of an issue around which parties can generate political distinctions, and mobilize public anxieties in the service of getting votes.  Barry Buzan argues that a ‘societal Cold War’ between Islam and Europe is in fact functional for the latter as it would serve to strengthen European identity at a crucial time for its ongoing unification. Etienne Balibar comes to the same conclusion when he states that the ‘immigrant’ (not only the Muslim) is by definition a ‘second class citizen’ because while the “real” content of European identity is increasingly taken for granted, immigrants are excluded from full inclusion in the Union they are helping to build. As Delgado-Moreira  argues, the construction of a European identity is neglecting the cultural demands of the minorities within the member-states and fails to produce a pluralist reading of identity.   For politicians, politics is ultimately the game of getting elected and getting re-elected. When in power, politicians try to hegemonize their analyses and solutions of the situation. Multiculturalism has become a key “empty signifier” that is consistently used to legitimate European democracies.  Empty signifier here refers to a term or notion that can acquire, or be filled with, various meanings and contents according to the interests of those who invoke it, and according to understandings of the structural and discursive contexts within which it is invoked. Culture as political agent and determinant of relevant and legitimate political difference, and multiculturalism in particular, have become paradigms accepted by most actors in the mainstream political spectrum, even if there are debates over the limits and precise content of the concept.  While a monoculturalist notion of polity can traditionally be attributed to conservative and rightist European political movements, the culturalist tendency—in its multiculturalist expression—now predominates at the left and center of the political spectrum as well.  Even most mainstream European conservative parties have adopted the multiculturalist discourse (Britain being a notable exception).  The far right political parties, on the other hand are very clear in rejecting multiculturalism, and tend to be situated between the monocultural positions of traditional European national conservatism (which accepted that other races could join the polity if they adopted national “norms, beliefs, and practices”) and outright racism.  They oppose the idea of peacefully living together with different ‘cultural’ communities and perceive the stranger as a danger for romantically understood national community.  Alternatively, the Other is seen as a threat to one’s own culture and/or personal economic security.  Officially, this rejection of multiculturalism is not a publicly lauded discourse.   However, even those parties who on the surface would seem to have the most inclusive and open understanding of the multicultural idea in fact maintain the mechanism of cultural exceptionalism in thought, and, it must be said, in practice.  While the far-right is trying to control Islam by ‘getting rid of it’, the others are trying to control it by pushing forward their ‘own Islam’. Blommaert and Verscheuren (1992), for example, have shown how several Belgian governmental institutions, NGOs and intellectuals are pushing forward an agenda that clearly tries to shape Islam and Muslims the way they want them to be.    Muslims are hardly heard in this debate in spite of the fact that a growing elite within European Muslim communities is steadily growing and engaging in intellectual work. The overrated threat of ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ is used as an easy excuse to lessen the influence of these voices as they are not directly reflecting what “we” Europeans want to hear. The project of debunking some of the multicultural discourse might just depend in part on their ability to “rediscover” the politics at the heart of the “problematique of Islam in Europe.”   VII.   The notion that Islam—in the form of Muslim migrants/immigrants—poses a threat or challenge to European identity or culture is largely a product of a discourse that has grown around culture as a defining element of polity and international relations.  Somewhat ironically perhaps, this essay has suggested that the notion of Islam/Muslims as a threat or challenge to European identity and culture grows intrinsically out of the discourse of European multiculturalism.  It rounds off with four concluding observations.   The discourse that has grown up around the idea of integration into a multicultural Europe must also ultimately be evaluated in its relation to more mundane issues of polity and society.  Ultimately, it is in the context of the latter—buried in the accumulated politics and choices of daily life—that meanings of the multiculturalist idea, and the implications of its hegemony, can be explored with regard to understandings of integration, and all that the term implies with regard to the rights and obligations of Muslims living in Europe.  “Foreigners” are now a definitive part of European societies.  Their social position and access to civic participation must not be held hostage to the methodological double standards, nor to the stylistic fetishes of prevailing “national” norms, that characterize some applications of culture within scholarly, political, and public discourses.   The problem with the communitarian thinking embodied within the multicultural ideology is that it can never really obtain what it is looking for: the combination of equality and diversity.  It has difficulty going beyond a perspective of “separate but equal.”  By locking the foreigner into a presumed entity of origin (whether in terms of nationality, race, religion, etc.), both the foreigner and the autochthon deny the realities of interdependence that are not always so apparent on the surface.  It assumes that state, society, and the phenomenon of culture in the broadest sense lack mechanisms that allow for communication across stylistic and ritualistic distinctions of particular cultures.  It is misleading to see European national communities as unified, single and homogenous entities that are trying to secure their rightful place within a seemingly monolithic European Union. The sheer diversity of languages, traditions, religions and lifestyles within the Union are already an acknowledgement of a pluralist Europe. For Muslim communities, the same argument applies.  As public discourses over-emphasize communal essentialism[8], particularly as applied to the relationship between the Muslim migrant and Muslim communities, the danger that social and regulatory processes conflate to create a “communitarian cage” into which all Muslims are expected to fit becomes very real.   Similarly, the multicultural ideology engages in the act of creating otherness in order to reaffirm the myth of European tolerance. Indeed, extreme tolerance that comes with cultural relativism encompasses the danger of seeing the Other as completely different within his “communitarian cage”, and thus obliterating every possible idea of universal humanity. The notion of authenticity as expressed through group-identity is presented as the ultimate freedom. This paradoxically means that tolerance can lead to its opposite: i.e. the creation of incommensurable boundaries between “Us” and “Them” (Finkielkraut). In the post-political context, this also serves to generate and politicize the political distinctions that drive mobilization—and that win votes—in an adversarial political system. There is a potentially circular and self-fulfilling relationship between the ideology as manifested in the practice and exercise of public policy, and the processes that lead to an awareness of cultural distinction as a problematic feature of the European social landscape.   Finally, the myth of a multicultural Europe needs to be reexamined for the double standards that it sets, and the discriminatory practices and standards that it established beneath the veneer of “the noble project.”  Insofar as multiculturalism might offer useful perspectives on, and set an agenda within, a complex European reality, it is a concept still awaiting definition.       NOTEN:   [1] We would rather use the term “Islamism” for several methodological reasons. However, because of the currency of the use of the label “Islamic fundamentalism” in discourses we will use in order to analyze the usage of the label. For the theoretical background of using Islamism: Seymann, Zemni & Van Ruysseveldt.   [2] Indeed, it is tempting to wonder how many autochtones would be considered “unintegrated” if they were held to the same criteria of judgement as are migrants.   [3] Culture becomes something more than a range of tastes and expressive styles that can be seen as developing in more or less identifiable contexts of time and space, and something less than an extensive register of ideas and narratives that can be used to justify a variety of seemingly contradictory political and social projects.  Cultures are seen as fixed in relation to the structures of polity and world order within which they currently express themselves in different parts of the world.   [4] In the procedure of becoming Belgian, one of the criteria asked to the applicants is their ‘will to integrate’. Without any enforceable or controllable criteria, the applicants are left ‘at the mercy’ of the judges who can ask whatever they want such as “Do you still eat with your hands” etc. (see also Blommaert & Verschueren 1998: 114-115).   [5] Subaltern defined here as a logical, but not necessary, element of a whole.  Thus while other subcultures may come and go, Islam is not seen as compatible with the “greater logic” of the European identity and political project.   [6] This mechanism of thought, the ‘individualization of ‘negative’ values’, has been described by Blommaert & Verscheuren 1998.   [7] Instead of fundamentalism one could argue that Muslims are much more influenced by the policies of their states of origin. Western European states would have more interest in stopping this immiscating as it would emancipate Muslim communities. (Ramadan 2000).   [8] Alain Touraine’s work has dealt with these issues since the 1970s. His aim is to define the Subject that is not reducible to the homo economicus, nor an individual attached to ‘traditional’ communitarian hierarchies but aims at establishing a balance between economy, identity and territory.   Works Cited :   Balibar, Etienne (2000). “Bestaat de Europese identiteit?”, Samenleving en Politiek, jg.7, n°1, pp.25-33   Blommaert, J. & Verschueren, J., (1998). Debating Diversity. Analysing the discourse of tolerance, London: Routledge   Blommaert, J. & Verschueren, J. (1992), Het Belgische migrantendebat: de pragmatiek van de abnormalisering, Antwerpen: IprA Research Center   Buzan, Barry (1991). “New Patterns of Security in the Twenty -first Century”, International Affairs, n°67, July 1991, pp n.a.   Delgado-Moreira, Juan (1997). “Cultural Citizenship and the Creation of European Identity”, Electronic Journal of Sociology,   Detrez, Raymond, De zondebokken van Europa, Europa-lezing, internet-edition:   Finkielkraut, Alain (1987). La défaite de la pensée, Paris: Folio Essais/Gallimard   Hauman, Remi (1999). “Vlaanderen heeft verlichte islamologen nodig”, De Standaard, zondag 11 juli 1999   Ramadan, Tariq (2000). “Entre ingérences étrangères et logiques sécuritaires: Les musulmans d'Europe pris en tenaille.”, Le Monde Diplomatique, Juin 2000, pp. 12-13. Internet edition: (Dutch translation published on this web site).   Seymann, Wolfgang (1998). “The Abuse of a Concept: “Fundamentalism” in German-Speaking social science literature”, in: BASKAR, B., BRUMEN, B (Eds.). Mediterranean Ethnological Summer School, Vol II, Ljubljana, 1998, pp.159-171.   Touraine, Alain (1997). Pourrons-nous vivre ensemble? Egaux et différend., Paris: Arthème Fayard   Touraine, Alain (1992). Critique de la modernité, Paris: Fayard   Zemni, Sami & Van Ruysseveldt, Peter. (1995). “Deus ex Machina of een duiveltje uit een doosje? Islamisatie van de modernisering of modernisering van de islam. Casus Tunesië?”, Noord-Zuid Cahier, pp.31-46.   Zizek, Slavoj. (1998). Pleidooi voor Intolerantie. Amsterdam: Boom Essays.   * Published in: HUNTER, Shireen T. (ed.), Islam in Europe: The New Social, Cultural, and Political Landscape, Westport/ Washington, Praeger Publ., 2002, pp.231-244.