Jørgen S. Nielsen: Reflections on the Role and Training of Imams and Islamic Teachers for Europe
91 Jørgen S. Nielsen Re f l e c t i o n s o n t h e Ro l e a n d Tra i n i n g o f I m a m s a n d I s l a m i c Te a c h e r s fo r E u ro p e Islamic scholars and scholarship function in a complex and highly contested environment. In the former communist parts of Europe Is- lam was, together with all other religion, strictly controlled and ac- tively discouraged or, as in Albania, completely forbidden. After the end of communism, religion, including Islam, resurfaced in a variety of ways and negotiated new settlements with the new states in new constitutional and legal arrangements. In the case of Yugoslavia this process was delayed and called into question by the wars that accom- panied the disintegration of the state, wars in which religious identi- ty were a strong dimension. In Western Europe, Islam was identified with immigration and new ethnic minorities often originating from former empires and therefore a dimension of the decolonization and post-colonial processes. Across Europe Muslims have been caught in conflicts involving racism and xenophobia, while international polit- 92 Jørgen S. Nielsen ical developments with heightened focus on Islam from the Iranian revolution till ‘war on terror’ have imposed their additional dynamic. But at the same time there have been continuing developments of a more positive nature. In most countries the...
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