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About Tariq Modood
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. His books include (as co-editor) Ethnicity, Nationalism and Minority Rights and Ethnicity, Social Mobility and Public Policy: Comparing the US and UK (both Cambridge University Press, 2005); (as co-editor) Multiculturalism, Muslims and Citizenship: A European Approach (Routledge 2006); (as author) Multicultural Politics: Racism, Ethnicity and Muslims in Britain (Edinburgh University Press, 2005); (as author) Multiculturalism: A Civic Idea (Polity, 2007); (as co-editor) Secularism, Religion, and Multicultural Citizenship (Cambridge University Press, 2008); and Still Not Easy Being British: Struggles for a Multicultural Citizenship (Trentham Books, 2010)
Articles by Tariq Modood
This week's editor
The Armenian genocide
Yemen - easy to get wrong
Through the bars
No to TTIP
Meteoric rise of Islamic State
An intense public debate and media controversy was triggered in Britain after a lecture delivered by the Archbishop of Canterbury - the spiritual head of the Church of England - on 7 February 2008. The speech - entitled " Civil and Religious Law in England: a Religious Perspective"- raised important questions of law, state, faith and citizenship in a modern, plural society; and its bitter, polarising aftermath equally highlights the issue of what kind of civic discourse about these questions is necessary if they are to be properly addressed. This essay responds to the debate and controversy by viewing them in the perspective of "multicultural citizenship",a concept which allows for nuanced understanding of the inter-relationship of"secular" and "religious" notions in civic life.
I thank the six commentators who offered me some comments on my original openDemocracy article ("Multiculturalism, citizenship and national identity", 17 May 2007) and on the book whose arguments it summarised (Multiculturalism: A Civic Idea¸ Polity, 2007). Each contribution has given me some food for thought, and I would like here both to respond to some of them and use the opportunity to clarify some points of my position.
The relationship between ethnic, religious and social communities in some western European states is surrounded by a sense of crisis. The atmospherics of this crisis - immigration, visible difference, tension over "trigger issues" such as women's apparel or icons of faith, the pervading fears of the post-9/11 world - are easier to identify than its actual character. In this circumstance, where evidence of conflict is readily available but a view of the whole picture is harder to achieve, it is not surprising that many people - seeking to make meaning from apparent confusion - look for scapegoats. In media, academia and much public discussion in the first years of the millennium (particularly in Britain, with which this essay is mainly concerned), one of the principal scapegoats has been and continues to be multiculturalism.
The origins of the infamous Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed do not lie in an attempt to offer contemporary comment, let alone satire, but the desire to illustrate a childrens' book. While such pictures would have been distasteful to many Muslims – hence why no illustrator could be found – the cartoons are in an entirely different league of offence. They are all unfriendly to Islam and Muslims and the most notorious implicate the prophet with terrorism. If the message was meant to be that non-Muslims have the right to draw Mohammed, it has come out very differently: that the prophet of Islam was a terrorist.
Britains multicultural model is held responsible for the London bombs of July 2005. Rather, says Tariq Modood, it needs to be extended to a politics of equal respect that includes Britains Muslims in a new, shared sense of national belonging.
Anti-Muslim sentiment in post-9/11 Europe contends that Muslims compound their alien status by claiming special treatment from their hosts. But what if the aspiration to a recognised Muslim identity is itself characteristically European? In the British context, Tariq Modood argues that a healthily multicultural society needs to accommodate religion as a valid social category and rethink Europe so that the Muslim them becomes part of a plural us.