Cover of Allah in the West by Gilles Kepel
Allah in the West
Islamic Movements in America and Europe
Gilles Kepel

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1997
284 pages.
$23.95

Paper ISBN: 9780804727532

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This book is a revealing account of the ways the Islamic tradition in recent years has asserted its identity in the United States, France, and Great Britain. The most prominent and controversial manifestations of this phenomenon were the pronouncement of Salman Rushdie's death sentence for writing The Satanic Verses, which led to mobs of Britain's working-class Pakistanis publicly burning copies of the book; the heated debates in France over "the veil incident," which surged around the question of whether three Muslim girls could wear an Islamic veil in a state school; and the "Islamization" of American black ghettos under the banner of the Black Muslims.

This book, however, goes behind these headline events, arguing that new social, cultural, political, and religious "fault lines" have emerged, centered around a particular brand of Islamic activism which operates at the very heart of post-industrial society. It demonstrates that the Islamic movements in the United States and Europe are establishing themselves outside the areas where Islam has traditionally been present, using Western languages, having ready access to the broadcast media, and evolving into the avant-garde of the faith's expansion across the world.

From the streets of Los Angeles to Britain's inner cities and France's rundown suburbs, the author describes the activities of Islamic activists who put forward an alternative lifestyle and system of beliefs to those of the largely uncomprehending West. He also examines the creation and development of Islamic communities that challenge Western society, which has been unable to provide solutions to the new problems posed by these groups who are demanding social and political recognition.

About the author

Gilles Kepel is Director of Research at the French National Science Research Council. Two of his previous books have been translated into English: The Prophet and the Pharaoh and The Revenge of God.