The politics of religion
Muslims are going native
Islam in the West is experiencing a little-noticed transformation
Islam frightens many in the West. Jihadists kill in the name of their religion. Some Muslim conservatives believe it lets them force their daughters to marry. When asked, Westerners say that Islam is the religion they least want their neighbours or in-laws to follow. Bestselling books such as “The Strange Death of Europe”, “Le Suicide Français” and “Submission” warn against the march of Islam.
Fear of terrorism, not least the danger that jihadists returning from Syria will cause bloody havoc at home, and the rise of antiimmigrant populism are leading governments to try to control Muslims. President Donald Trump has banned travellers from some Muslim-majority countries; France and other states have banned Muslim head- or face-coverings.
However, Western Islam is undergoing a little-noticed transformation. As our special report this week sets out, a natural process of adaptation and assimilation is doing more than any government to tame the threat posed by Islamic extremism. The first generation of Muslim workers who migrated to the West, starting in the 1950s, did not know how long they would stay; their religious practices directed by foreign-trained imams were tied to those of their countries of origin. The second generation felt alienated, caught between their parents’ foreign culture and societies whose institutions they found hard to penetrate. Frustrated and belonging nowhere, a few radicals turned to violent jihad.