Church State Impact on Mulsim Communities

How do historic church-state relations impact on the development of Muslim communities and practices in Western societies?

Western Europe has long considered itself as being distanced from the legacy of church-state relationship; however the influx of Muslim migration into Europe has reignited this historic relationship. Its re-emergence has highlighted the varied reactions from countries in accommodating Muslim religious practices. The challenge of accommodating Muslim needs in western societies, such as state funding of religious schools, the hijab (head scarf) and the institutionalisation of Islam, has been politically challenging. Although the policy demands are the same, the political response has varied dramatically. These differences can be attributed to each countries inherited church-state relationship. Britain, France and Germany are three countries which reflect the diversity of reaction to Muslim religious practice. Britain's historic relationship with the Church of England has accorded well for Muslim recognition, whereas France's bitter past with the church and colonial history has restricted religious needs and practices whilst Germany's church-state set up has questioned Islam's official recognition.

In the case of Britain which enjoys a state established religion, Christianity, has to an extent assisted Muslims to attain equal rights. The church-state relationship is an 'important institutional and ideological resource for Muslim activists and has opened up opportunities for Muslim political mobilization’ (Herbert; 2008, pp 69) although according to Cesari with a 'delayed effect' and 'open resistance' as in the case of Islamic schools which took over a decade to attain voluntary aided status in the United Kingdom, in comparison to Christian and Jewish schools. Muslim groups employed the historic church state relationship as a basis to legitimise approval for state funded schools in line with already existing Christian and Jewish schools....