Whether the recently settled religious minorities, Muslims in particular, can be accommodated as religious groups in European countries has become a central political question and threatens to create long-term fault lines. I argue that to grasp the nature of the problem we have to see how Muslims have become a target of a cultural racism, Islamophobia. Yet, the problem is not just one of anti-racism but of an understanding of multicultural citizenship, of how minority identities, including those formed by race, ethnicity and religion, can be incorporated into national identities so all can have a sense of belonging together. This means that the tendency amongst some to exclude religious identities from public institutions and the re-making of national identities has to be challenged. I suggest that this can be done in a principled yet pragmatic way by drawing on Western Europe’s moderate political secularism and eschewing forms of secularism that offer religious groups a second-class citizenship.
Tariq Modood is Professor of Sociology, Politics and Public Policy and the founding Director of the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship at the University of Bristol and co-founder of the international journal Ethnicities. He has held over 40 grants and consultancies, has over 35 (co-)authored and (co-)edited books and reports and over 250 articles and chapters. He was a Robert Schuman Fellow at the European University Institute for part of 2013-15, a ‘Thinker in Residence’ at the Royal Academy of Flanders, Brussels in 2017.
He is highly committed to public engagement. His work is frequently cited by policy-makers and practitioners and on several occasions has influenced policy. His impact case study, ‘Influencing law, policy and public discourse on the accommodation of Muslims in Britain’ was one of three which collectively were ranked as 3rd in the UK by the Sociology 2013 REF. He was awarded a MBE for services to social sciences and ethnic relations in 2001, was made a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2004 and elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2017. He served on the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, the National Equality Panel, and the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life. His latest books include Essays on Secularism and Multiculturalism (2019) Multiculturalism: A Civic Idea (2nd ed; 2013); and as co-editor Multiculturalism Rethought (2015), Multiculturalism and Interculturalism: Debating the Dividing Lines (2016) and The Problem of Religious Diversity: European Problems, Asian Challenges (2017).