Elisabeth Ivarsflaten (University of Bergen) (webinar)
4 February 2021 @ 14:00 - 15:30
“The Struggle for Inclusion: Muslim minorities and the democratic ethos”
Abstract: This book is about whether contemporary liberal democracies are capable of becoming more fully, more truly inclusive. Its focus is the readiness of non-Muslim majority citizens to include Muslim minorities. It is unlike what we, and most other scholars of the politics of cultural and religious diversity, have done before. The aim is not to investigate the sources or strength of majority group members’ desire to exclude a minority. It is, instead, to identify the conditions under which they are open to inclusion. The difference is not a play on words, not a gambit to substitute one word for another — inclusion for exclusion — in order to say the same thing but the other way around. It is a different undertaking. What are majority group citizens in established democracies willing to endorse, ready to ratify? Where do they draw the line? And why do they draw it there and not elsewhere? We make three core claims. First, in today’s democracies in Western Europe and North America, there are terms on which inclusion of Muslims is widely acceptable. A path forward depends on knowing the difference between the terms that are acceptable and the terms that are not. Second, to see the difference, it is necessary to shift from concentrating on the intolerant, who favor and fight for exclusion, and turn a spotlight on those who believe in tolerance, who favor the ideals of a liberal democratic society and, at least in principle, are open to inclusion. Third, and ironically, the risk of polarization traps in the struggle for inclusion follows, not from the strength of exclusionary forces, but from the friction between liberal democratic values.