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Islam in Europe: Extremism and integration

The attacks in the French city of Nice and the German city of Munich have affected religious intellect

Turki Aldakhil

Published: Updated:

Right-wing sentiment is spreading in Europe. The attacks in the French city of Nice and the German city of Munich have affected religious intellect and Islamic rhetoric. Measures have been taken against mosques. On Aug. 1, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced the shutting down of 20 mosques and prayer halls for propagating extremist ideas.

He said more mosques would be shut down, and extremist preachers would be deported: “There’s no place in France for those who call for and incite hatred in prayer halls or in mosques, and who don’t respect certain republican principles, notably equality between men and women.”

Islam’s presence in France dates back to the end of the 19th century. By the start of World War I, their number was estimated at 30,000-40,000, mostly Algerian and Moroccan workers. It is said that France has 2,500 mosques and prayer halls, of which about 120 spread extremist ideology.

Extremist organizations want clashes to occur between Muslims and European governments, and to nurture resistance against integration

Turki Aldakhil

Exploitation

Europe’s right-wing exploits any incident involving an immigrant or Muslim in order to pressure governments. Data indicates right-wing progress in upcoming elections, particularly after Syrian refugees’ arrival in Europe, mainly in Germany.

This right-wing rise is empowered by violent attacks against civilians and security forces, and by incidents targeting airports, markets and places of entertainment.

The European problem must be resolved by Europeans, but Muslims have the right to wonder about the crimes committed against them due to extremist rhetoric and discrimination based on skin color, race or religion. Fundamentalist rhetoric nurtures hatred and develops a sense of separation from society.

Egyptian thinker Nasr Hamed abu Zayd, who has actively criticized religious rhetoric since the 1980s, said: “Religious rhetoric is dark in the darkness and luminous in the light.” This applies to preachers who call for enlightenment when they are on public platforms or in front of cameras, but preach violence and hatred when delivering speeches behind closed doors and unmonitored places.

This can only be resolved on the security front. Europe must be purified from extremists who have infiltrated Muslim ranks. Extremist preachers first deliver embellished speeches during conferences and seminars, but soon reveal a dark intellect behind closed doors. It is impossible to change their ideas. They came to Europe as conquerors, not as learners.

Muslims in Europe are unaware of the treachery of fundamentalists, who attract youths under the guise of protecting their identity and resolving the problems of alienation by establishing a community that is isolated from wider society.

Terrorism and extremism rise when integration decreases. Countless Arabs and Muslims have integrated in European and American societies. Examples include London Mayor Sadiq Khan (the son of a Pakistani bus driver), the late Edward Said (the Palestinian thinker who became one of the most important academics in the United States), and Lebanese-born French author Amin Maalouf.

Europe will remain the continent of light. Extremist organizations want clashes to occur between Muslims and European governments, and to nurture resistance against integration. However, as France and Germany have warned, there is no option now but to integrate or return to the country of origin. Europe is guarding its past and present. The ball is in the court of the Muslim community there.

This article was first published in al-Bayan on Aug. 10, 2016.
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Turki Aldakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.