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Chapter Summary

The topic of asylum seekers and refugees throws light on the ambiguous, often contradictory signals New Zealand sends to Muslims. While there is undoubtedly a degree of distrust, suspicion, and hints of Islamophobia, there are also expressions of sympathy for Muslims. This introductory chapter clarifies that this book is not about Islam, but about Muslims. It aims at describing the national Muslim diaspora, in particular as it is affected by multicultural policies and legislation relating to the freedom of religio-cultural expression. Despite a basic openness toward the cultural other, there are discrepancies between what Muslim immigrants may wish and what is permitted. As Europe knows, Islamic canonical law, the sharia, and regional customs brought along by immigrants do not always sit neatly among Western conditions. A clearer understanding of the structure and internal organisation of the Muslim minority will help in the dialogue between Muslim community leaders and public administration.

Keywords: human rights provision; Islamic law (sharia); Islamophobia; New Zealand's Muslim minority



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