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Pervasive Anxiety about Islam: A Critical Reading of Contemporary ‘Clash’ Literature
Department of Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University Ave., Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5, Canada
Received: 8 July 2013; in revised form: 17 September 2013 / Accepted: 18 September 2013 / Published: 25 September 2013
Abstract: This article analyzes and critiques North American and European “clash literature”—a genre of post-9/11 writings that popularize elements of Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” thesis, with particular reference to putative threats posed to Western civilization by Islam and Muslims. Attention is given to a series of salient themes used by multiple texts and authors, in a manner that creates an overarching narrative of Western moral superiority vis-à-vis a monolithic, authoritarian, and misogynistic Islamic culture; betrayal of Western culture by “politically correct” intellectual elites wedded to ideas of multicultural accommodation; and a cascading threat posed by the rapid influx of unassimilable Muslim immigrants who are poised to mount a demographic takeover of Europe and possibly America as well. The content of clash texts is then analyzed and evaluated in light of its detachment from relevant scholarship, its reliance on highly essentialized identity constructs, its use of demographic extrapolations and alarming anecdotes, and its stark rejection of contemporary pluralism. The article concludes with reflections on how scholars might respond to the identity insecurities revealed by clash literature as they seek to advance alternative narratives based on values of dialogue and coexistence.
Keywords: clash of civilizations; Islamophobia; Muslim immigration and integration; Islam and the West
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MDPI and ACS Style
Sharify-Funk, M. Pervasive Anxiety about Islam: A Critical Reading of Contemporary ‘Clash’ Literature. Religions 2013, 4, 443-468.
Sharify-Funk M. Pervasive Anxiety about Islam: A Critical Reading of Contemporary ‘Clash’ Literature. Religions. 2013; 4(4):443-468.
Sharify-Funk, Meena. 2013. "Pervasive Anxiety about Islam: A Critical Reading of Contemporary ‘Clash’ Literature." Religions 4, no. 4: 443-468.