In the last decade, a lot of public money has been spent in Canada and other Western countries to figure out how to manage religious diversity. This has resulted in a bit of a boom in the academic study of religion in Western universities. One might be tempted to delight in this situation. However, if we look at the situation from a critical and decolonial perspective, there is also considerable reason for concern. To put it bluntly, this rise in interest is driven principally by fear after the events of 9/11. It is also no mystery that the top of the list of fears caused by these events is fear of Islam and Muslims (Islamophobia). Society investing large sums to try to face its fears is no doubt better than allowing these fears to go unchecked. However, the question of motivations must be examined.
Many factors lead me to believe that expressions like “managing religious diversity”, attached to so many of the well-funded academic research projects these days, are euphemisms for “controlling religious minorities”, particularly Muslims. A blog entry is not the right forum for me to make a detailed exposition to back my claims up, but I am certain many readers will be able to fill in many of the dots for themselves. Let me add that I do not deny the necessity for societies to manage religious diversity in some way. Yet, it is important to ask who is doing the managing and who is being managed. If the answer is Western-Centric elites managing/controlling marginalized minorities, then the task of monitoring the managers seems more important to me than the managing itself.
Transdisciplinary scholar of Islam and Sufism.