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29. Cultural citizenship and Muslims in the West

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Article title: 
29. Cultural citizenship and Muslims in the West
Publishers: 
Year: 
2004
Week: 
35
Article number: 
29
Article pages: 
p. 80
Date of source: 
2004-08-31
Author: 
Ahmad Abu Zayd
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Article summary: 

Muslim immigrants abroad are looked upon by the West as a group whose culture calls for violence and terrorism. Immigrant group’s adherence to the Islamic dress and their tendency to reside in closed residential areas so as not to mix with the natives [Europeans] enhanced this belief in the minds of Westerners. But an important question to ask is whether those immigrants should enjoy the rights of political citizenship in spite of their clear rejection of the host country’s culture. Here, one has to make a distinction between political citizenship, which is enjoyed by all citizens, and cultural citizenship that distinguishes marginal groups within the society.

Article full text: 

Muslim immigrants abroad are looked upon by the West as a group whose culture calls for violence and terrorism. Immigrant group’s adherence to the Islamic dress and their tendency to reside in closed residential areas so as not to mix with the natives [Europeans] enhances this belief in the minds of Westerners. But an important question to ask is whether those immigrants should enjoy the rights of political citizenship in spite of their clear rejection of the host country’s culture. Here, one has to make a distinction between political citizenship, which is enjoyed by all citizens, and cultural citizenship which distinguishes marginal groups within society.


Cultural citizenship means the right of marginal groups and minorities to keep their cultural identity in order not to be completely assimilated into the general official culture. One condition is that this cultural identity should not keep them from participating positively in activities and abiding by the rules organizing public life under that state. Cultural citizenship requires the acceptance of the other as part of the society, and this is not happening in the West particularly toward Muslims of Arabic origin. On the contrary, what is going on could be described as racism and hostility toward the other. What the West does not realize is that these Muslims’ adherence to their origins is a self-defense against Western hegemony.


There is also another notion known as mobility citizenship that allows the movement of groups or even individuals from one country to another and thus, enable contact with other cultures and then demand, during their stay, the full rights that native citizens have. The Gypsies for example have the right to be treated the same way that citizens of the country is treated. These new models of citizenship could cause a lot of concern on the part of officials and politicians in societies where these models appear. It could require the reconsideration of its current systems and rules. But what is important about cultural citizenship is that the notion makes space for the recognition of cultural distinction and respecting it and considering it a positive influence that could enrich the national culture.

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Article counter: 
40
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The article contains no obvious errors...
Classification: 
Opinion
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