In March 2021, the Brookings Institution gathered a group consisting of right-wing populists and Muslim community activists for a two-day private dialogue regarding the place of Islam in Europe. While the dialogue allowed for the opportunity to clarify points of division between these two groups on such issues as the hijab, integration versus assimilation, and the role of the state in shaping and enforcing cultural and religious norms, it did not appear to narrow these gaps and left several Muslim participants with reservations regarding the usefulness of such a dialogue. The right-wing populist participants expressed somewhat more enthusiasm for the dialogue. These interactions raise important questions for those seeking to preserve pluralistic democracy at a time when Muslims’ presence in many European countries is a topic of charged debate.
Acknowledgements and disclosures
Adam Lammon edited this paper, and Rachel Slattery provided layout.
I am grateful to Suzanne Maloney, Ted Reinert, and Sharan Grewal for their thoughtful comments and suggestions on previous drafts of this report. Thanks to Israa Saber and Mira Nir for their help in organizing the dialogue. We also thank the Luce Foundation for their generous support for this multiyear project.