Princeton University Press (2012)

Click here to order.


2013 Hubert Morken Award for Best Book in Religion and Politics          American Political Science Association

2013 Award for Best Book in Migration and Citizenship                                                               - American Political Science Association

                                         2012 “Outstanding Academic Title”                                                - Choice (American Library Association)



“Perhaps the subtlest and most solidly researched analysis of European policies toward Islam… Laurence establishes firm ground for hope.” 

– Andrew Moravcsik, Foreign Affairs

• The Emancipation of Europe’s Muslims . . . looks at the largely unnoticed ways in which European governments have begun to integrate Muslims and Muslim organisations into public life. . . . Relying on extensive research and a wide range of interviews, Mr Laurence has written an original and thought-provoking study.” 

– The Economist

“A study of European governments’ recent approaches to their Muslim populations that usefully draws on the historic experience of other minorities in Europe”  

Timothy Garton Ash, The New York Review of Books

“[A] reference volume on the policies that governments across Western Europe have adopted in their attempts to better integrate Muslim communities”  

– Joshua Sinai, Washington Times

• “The strength of a theoretical work like this one is that it offers a master narrative to understand long-term trends in a number of countries… The Emancipation of Europe’s Muslims is a very impressive book. It is historically informed, theoretically rich, and comprehensive in its scope.”

– J. Christopher Soper, Journal of Church and State

“This ethnographically rich, well-documented book successfully reveals that European states (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK) have more similarities than differences in terms of their interactions with Muslims…  It goes beyond simplistic dichotomies and clichés, and provides a much-needed, broad perspective on this important subject.”

– Ahmet Kuru, Choice

“Laurence’s book is filled with thoughtful reflections and deep insights about one of the most fundamental political issues of our time. [It] presents the result of a meticulous study of a long and complex political process, masterfully documented and made vivid with the help of a substantial body of evidence.”

– Reza Azarian, European Societies

 • “Laurence’s study is rigorously researched and a noteworthy contribution to the field.”

Sanam Vakil, The International Spectator

“A fine-tuned and convincing analysis [with] a comparative edge over earlier studies [and] a fresh theoretical grasp … The array of timely topics, and issues it covers, make the book an interesting read for policy-makers and practitioners … Written in an accessible language, this comprehensive, easy to follow assessment of state policies toward Muslims is a pleasurable read for the general public interested in the controversies of Muslims’ presence in Europe.” 

– Arolda Elbasani, Nationalities Papers: The Journal of Nationality and Ethnicity

• “The Emancipation of Europe’s Muslims provides a rich and insightful comparative study of the integration strategies put in place in the last 15 years by the different European countries. [...] The original contributions made by the book make it very much worth reading.”

– Silvia Cavasola, Plurilogue: Politics and Philosophy Reviews

• “Laurence remarkably points out a generalizable process beyond European nation-state borders… He provides a fresh, balanced, and nuanced analysis of state–mosque relations in post-9/11 Europe.”

– Mustafa Gurbuz, Sociological Forum

• “Alarmists and victimists both neglect the positive role of liberal state institutions in the process of Islam and Muslim integration. A recent comparative and more institution-focused literature has partially fixed this problem. [Laurence provides] a more differentiated picture… of governments trying to steer the process of institutional integration through ‘neocorporatist’ means.”

– Christian Joppke, West European Politics

• “ [A] crucial contribution and should be used by all researchers in the field.”

– Sunier Thijl, Journal of Muslims in Europe


• “Un livre sérieux et très bien documenté”

Muslims in Europe, September 2014

• “A beautifully written model of original historical as well as contemporary qualitative research, offering fresh analysis of crucial current issues”

Rogers Smith, University of Pennsylvania, Citation for 2013 Award for Best Book in Migration and Citizenship, Vol. 2, No.1, Winter 2013/2014

“A remarkably accurate and comprehensive study of European Islam that transcends clichés and polemics. Laurence brilliantly elucidates the long-term trends that are transforming the children of migrants into European Muslims, acknowledging the tensions as well as the achievements of the process.”

– Olivier Roy, European University Institute, Florence

“A brilliantly mature book about a topic that frequently provokes sophomoric exaggeration. The book is remarkable for its practical acumen and comparative-historical depth. The Emancipation of Europe’s Muslims is a unique accomplishment. It presents a strong alternative to current so-called common wisdom.”

– Jytte Klausen, author of The Cartoons That Shook the World

“A gem whose light shines in a direction and with an intensity that [Christopher Caldwell's] brooding darkness would not countenance.”

– Bruce B. Lawrence, Director of Islamic Studies, Duke University

“A splendid comparison of the management of religious–and especially Islamic–conflict… Laurence arrays a range of convincing material to show that these countries followed similar pathways in managing their relations with Islam. The book holds out hope that Muslims may eventually be integrated within the political communities of these major European nations.”

– Sidney G. Tarrow, Cornell University



The Emancipation of Europe’s Muslims traces how governments across Western Europe have responded to the growing presence of Muslim immigrants in their countries over the past fifty years. Drawing on hundreds of in-depth interviews with government officials and religious leaders in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Morocco, and Turkey, Jonathan Laurence challenges the widespread notion that Europe’s Muslim minorities represent a threat to liberal democracy. He documents how European governments in the 1970s and 1980s excluded Islam from domestic institutions, instead inviting foreign powers like Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Turkey to oversee the practice of Islam among immigrants in European host societies. But since the 1990s, amid rising integration problems and fears about terrorism, governments have aggressively stepped up efforts to reach out to their Muslim communities and incorporate them into the institutional, political, and cultural fabrics of European democracy.

The Emancipation of Europe’s Muslims places these efforts–particularly the government-led creation of Islamic councils–within a broader theoretical context and gleans insights from government interactions with groups such as trade unions and Jewish communities at previous critical junctures in European state-building. By examining how state-mosque relations in Europe are linked to the ongoing struggle for religious and political authority in the Muslim-majority world, Laurence sheds light on the geopolitical implications of a religious minority’s transition from outsiders to citizens. This book offers a much-needed reassessment that foresees the continuing integration of Muslims into European civil society and politics in the coming decades.

Series: Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics. Dale F. Eickelman and Augustus Richard Norton, Series Editors.

• Read the New York Times Op-Ed here

• Book Launch at The Brookings Institution with commentary by Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, Prof. Ömer Taspinar (Brookings) and Prof. Peter Mandaville (George Mason Univ.), February 2012. Transcript/audio available here.

• A conversation with the Princeton University Press Blog on recent controversies involving religious diversity in Europe.



Political and Religious Challenges in Contemporary France. Jonathan Laurence and Justin Vaisse, Brookings Institution Press, 2006

Click here to purchase book: Integrating Islam: Political And Religious Challenges in Contemporary France

2007 “Outstanding Academic Title”Choice Magazine

Robert O. Paxton, New York Review of Books, April 2009: “The successes and failures of cultural integration [are] given an authoritative and optimistic reading by Jonathan Laurence and Justin Vaisse in Integrating Islam … Laurence and Vaisse give us a carefully conducted study of the integration of Muslims into French society, solidly based on statistics and poll results. They see integration wisely as a double process, bringing change to the French population as well as to immigrants… The authors are particularly interesting on French efforts to promote a Western Islam limited to the private sphere.

Jytte Klausen, The Journal of Religion, April 2009: “Laurence and Vaisse give an encyclopedic assessment of French policies toward the country’s Muslim minority and the social, economic, and political facts of integration…. One imagines the book lying on the desks of graduate students and journalists who need a primer on the recent history and the facts. If so, we should all be happy.”

Alec Hargreaves, French Politics, Culture and Society, Winter 2008: “This is by far the most comprehensive and best documented book available in English on the Muslim population in France. It works systematically through the now sizeable body of research and other evidence available on Muslims in France and finds that they are working with the grain of French society far more than is often thought. In chapter after chapter, we see that, contrary to widespread myths about the alleged incompatibility of Islam and French republican values, the vast majority of Islamic organizations and individual Muslims in France seek equality within the Republic on the basis of its constitutional principles, including that of laïcité, rather than through shariah-based separatism.

Matthew Kaminski, Wall Street Journal, September 2006: “These statistics [from the Pew Center] came to light after ‘Integrating Islam’ went to print, but they confirm the book’s cautious optimism. Messrs. Laurence and Vaisse argue that French Muslims are a diverse and fast-changing group, in many respects moderate. France, for example, saw virtually no public protests against the Muhammad cartoons, in contrast with other European countries.” (reprinted in Corriere della Sera, October 2006)

John Thornhill, Financial Times, September 2006: “The great virtue of Integrating Islam is that it demonstrates how distorted and offensive many of these views are. After examining the everyday reality of the Muslim population in France, the two authors, an American political scientist and a French historian, reach a more complex and optimistic conclusion challenging the “gloomy and alarmist view of France’s (and Europe’s) inevitable ‘Islamisation’.”

Mark Leon Goldberg, The American Prospect, September 2006: “Buy this book [...] I couldn’t recommend it more highly for those wishing to understand the dynamics of Islam and migrant integration in Europe today.”

Farhad Khosrokhavar, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris (From the book jacket): This book is a must for many reasons. The authors illustrate how Muslims are being integrated into French society and how exclusion and marginality are pushing a few of them into radicalism and terrorism. In a single work it condenses the many sides of the ‘Muslim question’ within France and, in some ways, Europe overall.

Olivier Roy, CNRS, June 2006 (From the foreword): “This noteworthy book by Laurence and Vaisse leaves behind a theoretical sociology of immigration and refuses to engage in the often fruitless debate on Islam as an abstract concept. The authors rely on solid documentation to study actual Muslims who live in France. Their prudently optimistic conclusions do not fall into the trap of cliché, excessive sympathy or political correctness. By emphasizing the complex phenomena of integration and discrimination, they shed light on the mix of identities and the subtle evolution of identity among French Muslims. In so doing, they also point out the difficulties that many in France have in fully understanding the environment in which they find themselves and the changes taking place around them. Laurence and Vaisse make considerable progress in advancing the debate in France and elsewhere, an accomplishment that deserves acknowledgment.”

Timothy Garton Ash, New York Review of Books, October 2006: “As the authors of an excellent new study of Islam in France point out, most French Muslims are relatively well integrated into French society.”

Stanley Hoffmann, Foreign Affairs, November 2006: “Laurence, a young American political scientist, and Vaísse, a young French historian, have written a well-documented, nuanced, and ultimately optimistic study of French Muslims — a convincing refutation of American clichés about the rise of Islamism in France, the effects of Muslims on French foreign policy, European anti-Semitism, and the incompatibility of Islam and the traditional French model of integration.”

Elizabeth Grimm, Democracy & Society, Fall 2006: “Their work is an important read for anyone trying to understand the complexities of Islamic integration into the European mainstream and an extremely valuable contribution to the field of migration studies.”

Roger Hardy, The New Statesman, January 2007: This is one of the few books in English that set out, clearly, dispassionately and in detail, what the headscarf affair was all about, what the main French Muslim organisations are (and their affiliations with the wider Muslim world), what the role of influential but controversial figures such as Tariq Ramadan and Yusuf al-Qaradawi has been, and how successive French governments have sought, with great difficulty, to create a national body to serve as a Muslim interlocutor. There are lessons here for Europe as a whole, and it would be salutary to think that a book with a primarily American purpose might teach Europeans a thing or two as well.”

Stephanie Giry, Prospect Magazine, February 2007: “a probing new book on the integration of Muslims in France [...] Laurence and Vaisse tackle well three issues that often alarm foreign observers: the influence of Muslims on French foreign policy, their suspected responsibility for the rise of antisemitism, and the connection between Islam and Islamist terrorism.”

Fokke Obbema, de Volkskrant, February 2007: “hun boek bevat ruim voldoende argumenten om het overheersende beeld van zwartgalligheid te corrigeren.”

Francis Ghilès, Politica Exterior, March 2007: “Jonathan Laurence y Justin Vaisse desarrollan estos asuntos con cierto detenimiento. Creen que identificar a los musulmanes solo por su creencia religiosa es engañoso, sobre todo cuando muchos de ellos no lo hacen. El complejo tapiz de Europa y el islam refleja la situaciòn en países determinados, y tambièn en todo el continente: existe una enorme diversidad sectaria, étnica e ideològica en países como Francia y Reino Unido…La expresiòn acuñada por Jonathan Laurence y Justin Vaisse resume ingeniosamente el desafío: ‘Altercados urbanos en Francia: es Marx, y no Bin Laden.’”

Pavol Szalai, International Issues and Slovak Foreign Policy, March 2007: “In any case, the book remains a pool of powerful arguments against those who would like to see a class-of-civilizations scenario evolve in France and Europe. Laurence and Vaisse undermine them with a carefully calibrated assessment of the situation backed by serious in-depth research. Everyone interested in immigration, European Islam, terrorism, or French politics should read their book.”

Richard Wolin, The Nation, April 2007: “As Olivier Roy comments in his foreword to Jonathan Laurence and Justin Vaisse’s Integrating Islam: ‘All serious studies of the formation of terrorism in Europe show that the process is more likely to be the result of alienation, isolation and generational crisis.’ This conclusion distinctly belies the claims of scaremongering jeremiads like Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept and French author Emmanuel Brenner’s The Lost Territories of the Republic, which misleadingly contend that, à la Bernard Lewis, Europe is undergoing a process of ‘reverse colonization.’”

David Cleeton, Modern & Contemporary France, Spring 2007: “Together [Laurence and Vaisse] have produced a clear and concise investigation of the French social landscape [...] The power of their analysis resides in the facts presented and the documentation they explore to set the record straight concerning the basic underlying structural characteristics of the Muslim population in contemporary France.”

William Safran, Choice, April 2007: “This excellent books deals with the challenges posed in France by the presence of several million Muslims. It covers virtually everything one would want to know about the subject [...] Highly recommended.”

Ishseminal, Daily Kos, June 2007: “Many of these arguments are carefully and convincingly refuted in ‘Integrating Islam‘ by Jonathan Laurence and Justin Vaisse, a painstakingly researched inquiry into the question of Muslim integration in France that was published just last year. Laurence, an American, and Vaisse, a Frenchman, team up to pore through virtually every survey and poll that has been done in recent years concerning views of French Muslims and non-Muslims on various issues related to Muslim life in France: politics, society, education, etc. Laurence and Vaisse provide detailed portraits of major French Muslim leaders and organizations, and track the state’s successes and failures in dealing with the Muslim community.”

Shereen El Fiki, International Affairs, July 2007: “A good first step, however, is understanding the role of Islam in the challenges facing French Muslims. And ‘Integrating Islam’ by political scientist Jonathan Laurence and historian Justin Vaisse is an excellent guide to this complex journey [...] The authors’ exhaustive research, clear analysis and sensible—indeed optimistic— conclusions are just as valuable to readers in Europe and further afield.”

Aslim Taslam, July 2007: “Un ouvrage qui est paru en mars 2007 et qui n’a pas, à mon goût, assez été plébiscité. La référence à des données sociologiques, à des événements politiques majeurs de l’histoire de l’islam de France, à l’aide de grilles statistiques judicieuses, ainsi que des enquêtes de terrain diversifiées, en font « le meilleur livre de synthèse existant » selon Olivier Roy.”

Emmanuel Dupuy, Defense Nationale et Securite Collective, August 2007: “[Un] riche ouvrage qui a l’immense avantage de condenser tous les aspects de la question musulmane en France, remettant ainsi en cause nombre d’ideés reçues quant à la montée de l’islamisme, l’antisémitisme et l’incompatibilité de l’islam avec le modèle républicain français, notamment la laïcité.”

Joan Wallach Scott, Perspectives on Politics, November 2007: “Full of details that enable readers to grasp the import of what is happening. Without sacrificing clarity, they insist on complexity, introducing readers in a measured, dispassionate way to the intricacies of French politics, political theory, and history.”

Ahmet T. Kuru, Contemporary Islam, January 2008: “Integrating Islam is a must read for those who study Muslims in France. It contains very rich and updated data about Muslims’ demography, organizational capacity, and political influence in France.”

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