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Political Conversion to Islam Among the European Right

In this paper, Sibgatullina and Abbas aim to illuminate the complex connections between the European right-wing movements and Islam and discusses how the adoption of Muslim identity may function as a politically strategic opportunity for European conservative forces.

Gulnaz Sibgatullina & Tahir Abbas
21 December 2021
Political Conversion to Islam Among the European Right

In this paper, Sibgatullina and Tabbas introduce three cases of politicians from Western European countries who in the past have been affiliated with populist parties and recently converted to Islam. This article examines how an act of conversion to Islam enables these politicians to continue advancing their agendas. Sibgatullina and Abbas argue that the public announcement of conversion allows these individuals to transmit their conservative political program directly to their audiences, circumventing the autocracy of leaders of their respective populist parties. In the converts’ rhetoric, Islam—universalized and freed from ethnocultural associations with Muslim minority communities—fulfils social and ethical functions abandoned by a “secularized” Christianity and, thereby, wages a struggle against cultural liberalism. Sibgatullina and Abbas posit that conversion to Islam among politicians who have been previously associated with populist parties does not necessarily mean a 180-degree turn from outspoken anti-Muslim sentiments to fully embracing the culture of “the Muslim Other.” Instead, it manifests a movement within the right of the political spectrum: from open antimulticulturalism to cultural conservatism, from defining European identity as exclusively secular and rational to seeing it as inherently spiritual yet compatible with the Enlightenment ideas on rationalism.

Read the article here

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