European societies are experiencing an increasingly marked cultural and religious “pluralisation” within their populations and territories, but also a growing “multiculturalization” of the religions present there because these are referring to diversified repertoires of meaning. The recent heavy waves of migration are adding to this diversity, provoking questions (or downright anxiety) in broad strata of populations already prey to other uncertainties linked to the effects of globalization: the economic and financial crisis of 2008, the restructuring of the labour market, the ecological challenges, the crisis of legitimation affecting politics in disenchanted societies, the international geopolitical tensions and the powerful impact of terrorist acts seeking to destabilize our societies. The latter are, by now, fuelling a good part of the media content and are draining states of substantial financial resources in the attempt to guarantee their populations’ security and hold young people’s radicalism in check. For many of our co-citizens, the future appears increasingly uncertain.
An Undeniable Ferment
Worrying religious practices and discourses exist within these societies, although some people avoid discussing them out of embarrassment or even for fear of provoking negative reactions, including amongst their loved ones. The increasing visibility of religious symbols (Islamic ones, above all), the maintaining of various transnational ties and the claims of religious and non-religious minorities are calling former certainties into question and sometimes destabilizing them. One may think, for example, of the debates on freedom of expression and religious freedom or, more generally, on the different conceptions of democracy, human rights and respect for the equal treatment of all. Then there are the tensions linked to everything that is perceived as the challenge to the autonomy of politics and the law posed by religion, to the questions about loyalty to European states on the part of those who hold dual nationality and to the disputes about the concrete rules that ought to be promoted in order to guarantee the secular character of public institutions. Friction is also being created by certain issues linked to practices regarding food and clothing but, primarily, to relations between the sexes and promiscuity and these are sometimes perceived as so many objections to current patterns of basic socializations.
[This article is published in Oasis no. 24. To read all the contents buy a copy or subscribe]