What is it about?

We examine under what circumstances politicians differentiate among immigrants, and when they politicize religion (Muslims). A large claims-making analysis 1995 to 2009 in seven Western European countries forms the empirical basis. There are more claims around Muslims when there are anti-immigrant parties in parliament. We find no evidence that the 9/11 terrorist attacks increased the politicization of Muslims.

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Why is it important?

Politicians can refer to immigrants in many different ways, and here we try to understand why Muslims are increasingly politicized in Western Europe.


It started as an exercise to get to know the preliminary version of the SOM dataset, and grew into a fully fledged paper. The differentiation of Muslim immigrants is interesting in a context where in many countries the Muslim population does not increase much, yet we see a clear increase in claims about Muslims. There might be a threshold effect, where Muslims are only politicized where their share in the population is non-negligible. I later examined the role of citizenship regimes in a separate paper to highlight that the nature of politicization does vary by citizenship regimes.

Didier Ruedin
Universite de Neuchatel

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This page is a summary of: Why religion? Immigrant groups as objects of political claims on immigration and civic integration in Western Europe, 1995–2009, Acta Politica, April 2017, Springer Science + Business Media,
DOI: 10.1057/ap.2016.1.
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