The permanent presence of Islam and Muslims is a comparatively recent phenomenon in most countries of the European Union. Over the last few decades many initiatives have been launched by Muslim communities in the European Union to create infrastructural provisions for their religious life, within the existing legal and social frameworks. In fact, all countries of the European Union share the principles of religious freedom and non-discrimination in their respective Constitutions. However, the precise way in which these principles are interpreted and applied to Islam depends largely on the historical traditions concerning the relation between State and Religion, which differ from one country to another. These differences are reflected in recent developments in the communication between the States and their Muslim communities, both at national, regional and municipal levels. They are also reflected in recent developments in legislation and jurisprudence concerning the most essential Islamic core-values, such as dietary laws, the precepts on modest dress, Islamic burial practices and the possibilities to found Islamic cemeteries, as well as the observance of Friday prayers and annual holidays. Looking at the legal position of Islam in the countries of the European Union, the authors of this volume discuss the challenges posed by the presence of Islam to the Western European system of relationships between law and religion. They argue, that these challenges necessitate reforms within the relevant European legislation, but differ as to their precise nature. They also discuss the difficulties of this task, as these adjustments will alter a longstanding balance of rights and privileges recognised by different religious denominations. Legal reforms, however, are not sufficient. The creation of a truly multicultural Europe also necessitates fighting against the negative image of Islam and Muslims (A"anti-MuslimismA" or A"IslamophobiaA") prevailing in most of its member states.
Publisher: Peeters Publishers