Accommodating Muslim Minorities in Secular Societies: Public Education in England, Scotland, Ontario, and Quebec
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Abstract This thesis examines one of the most sensitive challenges facing contemporary democracies: the accommodation of Muslim minorities in public institutions and services. It focuses on the field of education, and on two particular issues: the public funding of Islamic schools and the accommodation of Muslim needs in public secular schools. The analysis is based on an examination of outcomes in four jurisdictions that differ significantly in the level of accommodation that has emerged: England, Scotland, Ontario, and Quebec. I seek to explain why such variation in outcomes exists among these four cases. I draw on four bodies of literature to underpin the theoretical framework: historical institutionalism, political mobilization by civil society, political parties, and ideationalism. My argument can be summarized simply; historic church-state settlements, unique in each case, are the most important factor explaining the variation in outcomes in England, Scotland, Ontario, and Quebec. In some cases, the historic church-state template is incrementally adapted to accommodate Muslim minorities. In other cases, relatively little accommodation occurs and the path-dependent trajectory of church-state relations remains entrenched. While the historic church-state template is a necessary factor in the explanation, it does not fully account for the variation. For a more complete picture, I demonstrate that there are several additional key factors that also shape the outcomes: first, national identity and public attitudes towards immigration and immigrants; second, the extent of mobilization by political agents, such as civil society organizations and historic churches; and third, the response of political parties to demands by Muslims for institutional accommodation. Ultimately, I conclude that Muslims in these jurisdictions are receiving some accommodation, but the process is slow and partial. This thesis makes important theoretical and empirical contributions to the discussion of Muslim integration in liberal democratic states. First, a framework has yet to be developed that considers the theoretical implications of institutional accommodation of Muslims; I address this gap. Second, this research demonstrates the utility of historical institutionalism in explaining the adaptation of church-state templates to accommodate Muslims’ demands. Last, this study makes an original contribution by comparing the cases of England, Scotland, Ontario, and Quebec in the accommodation of Muslims in education. A comparison of Canada with the United Kingdom has not yet been done.