Muslims in Europe, identity questions and failure of discourse

Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran
Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran
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The European media, in all its versions, advertise some gatherings of Muslims residing in Europe, who want to evaluate the European experience, and perhaps aspire to change its regime to establish the desired model of governance, like the rule of the Brotherhood, an al-Qaeda state or an ISIS “caliphate”.

The speech of the Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer Dr. Tarek Ramadan considers Islam and Muslims as a part of the European fabric. He has long debated identity, and has engaged in lengthy dialogues with Edgar Moran, which I have written on more than once in the past.

However, the problem of identity is not the recognition of the existence of the other, but respecting the other’s civilization and not interfering in the fabric of society, as is the case of some refugees in Germany. Some want to modify the nation’s own system and this stems from central pressure and a false belief that the others are in desperate need for our experience and our minds, and our “spiritual experience”, which is nonexistent in the Islamic religious deliberation. As a matter of fact, the stands are full with non-polite methods, sermons inciting death; atonement and destruction. What a truly spiritual experience indeed!

The failure of all attempts to renew the Islamic discourse and push it towards urbanization instigated the right wing to wage a comprehensive war against that discourse, its constituents and branches, and to destruct all its platforms

Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran

That inferior view of the others they seek reinforces the presence of the extreme right and its entitlement to victory in France and Germany. The failure of all attempts to renew the Islamic discourse and push it towards urbanization instigated the right wing to wage a comprehensive war against that discourse, its constituents and branches, and to destruct all its platforms.

It made Muslims socially problematic, with the many opportunities that they have been given over the past two decades to improve the presence of discourse in European society. In the middle of the right-wing wave, a moderate voice may be a key link for a healthier relationship between Muslims and Europeans, especially new refugee groups from conflict areas in Libya, Syria and elsewhere.

“Freedom of belief”

Volker Kauder, the prominent politician in the German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party said in an interview with DW that: “Muslims are a part of Germany but Islam, isn’t” adding that “Freedom of belief is an existential matter of freedom in itself, and there is no freedom of belief when there is no freedom. Freedom of belief is existential for freedom itself, which is true in principle for every religion - and, of course, within the limits of German law and fundamental law. Islam is a religion that gets freedom in our country, so Muslims are allowed to build their mosques, but of course we cannot allow mosques to do anything against our democracy and our social system.”

The European thesis focuses on the need to respect the values and laws and learn the language, because one of the obstacles to the development of a Muslim society with the other is the lack of integration and fusion within other societies. In retrospect, the hosting society respects their rituals, allows the establishment of mosques, and provides Halal food and freedom of expression.

Throughout the past year, governmental religious institutions have placed religious pamphlets around the world for the purpose of spreading Islam, raising awareness and carrying out acts of preaching to God. However, the rapid events and the growth of extremism have made the nature of their work questionable. They did not identify the basic problem and did not recognize the imbalance in the discourse. They have rather perpetuated stereotypes, alienating the contrary opinion.

They did not separate the religious discourse within the Muslim community from the propagation of the Western societies in general. Thus reinforcing the formation of an offensive image of the religion as being Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, Abu Hafs al-Mauritani and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. All of the Muslim preachers did not succeed in dispelling these names from the minds of the Western recipient.

This is the dilemma of renewing the religious discourse, which made some people consider it impossible to modernize it with the linguistics of religion but rather with a scientific method of deconstruction and anthropology. This left behind the ‘closed dogmatic fences’ as expressed by Professor Mohammed Arkoun, who has been plagued by the subject of refugees, identity and Muslims since the days of terrorism in Algeria, which caused his displacement to France, as he tells in his books, notably in his two books “from Manhattan to Baghdad” And “Islam, Europe, the West”.

The stage shows the level of conflict between the two visions: the first which claims that Muslims are a part of Europe but Islam isn’t, and the second that believes Islam and Muslims are part of Europe. The results of the battle will appear in the upcoming elections in Europe but one thing is certain, that the current situation for Muslims will not be as it has been since the first migrations until the second half of the twentieth century.
Fahad Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat,, among others. He also blogs on philosophies, cultures and arts. He tweets @shoqiran.

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