From hammer and sickle to star and crescent : the question of religion for European identity and a political Europe
Title: From hammer and sickle to star and crescent : the question of religion for European identity and a political Europe
Author: CHALLAND, Benoît
Citation: Religion, state and society, 2009, Vol. 37, No. 1-2, pp. 65-80
ISSN: 0963-7494; 1465-3974
The paper suggests that European political identity, as a fragile project, is always in need of external significant ‘others’ in order to buttress a sense of common fate within the sui generis political entity of the European Economic Community/European Union (EU). Adopting a historical and diachronic perspective, the paper argues that for decades the threat of Eastern European communism represented one such external other as a gathering element for Western Europe, but that with the end of the Cold War this ‘other’ was gradually replaced by the threat of Islam and Islamism (and by extension Turkey's possible entry into the EU). Europe's threat was first the communist sickle; it is now Islam's crescent. Such a portrayal is obviously problematic because of its populist and simplistic appeal that has served political purposes. This needs to be questioned. The return of religion through what is currently described as desecularisation is a rather recent issue for Europe and the question of multireligious Europe ought to be taken seriously. The paper argues, in the line of Delanty, that one should adopt a civilisational approach to Europe, thus giving real space to differences within Europe, and reflect on certain biases of secularity and laïcité towards the dominant religion in various countries.
Published online: 15 Apr 2009
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