Sweeper: Sacred vs Secular in a Multicultural Europe

This week’s lecture and readings were all about multiculturalism in Europe, and how we tend to fall into certain narratives because of our own biases. This may be why it is so difficult for us to recognize a multi-cultural and multi-denominational Europe and why we tend to overlook the long historical past Europe has had with Islam.

The readings discussed the many different responses to multiculturalism. In the Wekkers’ article we see the rise in criticism of the Black Pete figure which leads us to believe that people are more open minded. Yet the anti-immigrant sentiment from right-wing parties in the Beauchamp article may lead some to think otherwise. In class we discussed the Bershidsky article which gave an interesting take on the high rates of sexual violence among asylum seekers in Germany. The readings and lecture asked us to consider looking at Europe as something influenced by many cultures in a multipolar world. One example is how Islam has had a long historical presence in Europe that we often to not discuss. One reason for this could be that it was often believed that European modernity was mature, yet Islam more backward thinking.

This bring us to a point that our class discussed in detail. The relationship between secular and sacred. The idea that a modern society may be separate from a public life.

While we may believe that religion does not have to play a role in everyday life, we can see religion in many aspects. From political norms, to holidays and school systems, there is no doubt that our society incorporates religion into the public sphere, especially when it comes to Christianity. So why are we so uncomfortable with outward displays of religion? What is it about religious signs that makes us so uncomfortable? Is it the a sign of a religion, or perhaps a sign of the “wrong” religion?  Is Europe becoming more multicultural?

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