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Benchmarking Muslim well-being in EuropeReducing disparities and polarizations$
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Pamela Irving Jackson and Peter Doerschler

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781847428875

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847428875.001.0001

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Muslims in European politics: support for democracy and trust in the political system

Muslims in European politics: support for democracy and trust in the political system

(p.81) Four Muslims in European politics: support for democracy and trust in the political system
Benchmarking Muslim well-being in Europe

Pamela Irving Jackson

Peter Doerschler

Policy Press

The relationship between citizens and their political system raises fundamental questions about the nature of democracy, including government legitimacy and chances for equal representation. Amid growing fears that a radicalized Islam is spreading across Europe, the relationship between Muslims and European political systems has garnered special attention among scholars and government officials, especially as higher fertility rates will likely enhance Muslims’ future political power. Responding to concerns about the incompatibility between Islam and democracy, we combine a thorough review of previous scholarly literature with analyses of survey data to examine the relationship between Muslims and Europe's democratic political systems. Attitudinally, we find that, counter to conventional wisdom, Muslims exhibit equal or greater levels of support and trust in democracy and most institutions of government than non-Muslims. This finding is consistent across the four states. Behaviourally, we find that Muslims are generally less well incorporated than non-Muslims in terms of their voter turnout and representation in public office. We discuss a number of reasons for this gap in representation, focusing in particular on closed institutional structures such as rigid integration policies and citizenship laws that limit greater political incorporation.

Keywords:   Trust in democracy, Political integration, Voter turnout, Citizenship, Representation

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