Being Muslim in Europe … in between fear and repression

SHAFAQNA – Caught in a crossfire between terrorists who claim to belong to Islam and commentators calling for “fundamental reforms” to their religion, Muslims in Europe are enduring a very uncomfortable time.

The terrorists use distorted Islamic terms, so Muslims face smear campaigns and selective racism in Europe. Meanwhile, critics on the continent demand radical changes to their religion from a supposed position of superiority.

These critics speak to Muslim like headmasters to unruly pupils. They not only assign Muslims homework, but also determined the results of religious “reforms” to be made under pressure.

Voices in Europe are given column space in magazines and newspapers, and broadcast time on television, heightening the sense of panic. They are not calling for a reasoned, renewed reading of Muslim texts, or an improvement of religious sciences – rather for the dismantling of the Muslim faith and the abandonment of it in one way or another.

This is not “reform” or “reassessment” in the traditional sense – these critics are basically renouncing the religion.

For example, it is no longer unusual for Muslim minorities in Europe to be told: “Reconsider your religion”, or “judge your clerics and do not hesitate to offend them”.

Such demands are supposedly made on the behalf of the majority, but without any explicit support from the wider population. It employs a naive form of logic that demands that one group of society act in a specific manner because of the actions of another group

Some pressure Muslims to abandon their religion or alter it, but would adhering to these arrogant demands result in the world’s salvation from terrorism, as everyone hopes?

Experts who have analysed the personal circumstances of those committing terrorist attacks have concluded is that these individuals were never educated about Islam.

These people were educated in European state schools and raised in a consumer society. There they faced psychological, social, or economic issues or crises, so they rebelled.

In the Muslim world, the wars and crises occurring are enough to cause the emergence of new versions and copies of terrorist violence amid the smoke from the burning fires. This is also pushing black clouds towards Europe.

We must be cautious with regards to the panic in Europe – to stop the spread of naive logic advocated by arrogant commentators.

The voices calling for the revision or reassessment of Islam after every terrorist attack are also making complex mistakes. They are disregarding the actual reasons for the current wave of terrorism. Holding Islam responsible for these heinous acts tempts others to ignore the direct and indirect reasons behind them and hinders the necessary and urgent treatment of this.

Would it be fair to hold Marx and Engels responsible for the attacks of communist terrorist organisations over the last century? Or to hold the wise Buddha responsible for the murder, arson and oppression in Myanmar? The Lord’s Resistance Army claims that the Christian God ordered them to commit atrocities in Uganda.

Those who holding Islam responsible for the terrorist acts are in effect rewarding Daesh and accepting its carefully woven slogans. This means that the mainstream Muslims who continue to condemn terrorism do so in vain.

We must agree on the importance of reforms in every area. Do these same nations possess the same courage to revise their “sanctified” foreign policies?

Let’s start the matter by sparking a general and public discussion on the close ties between these countries and the Israeli occupation, which still received support even while applying its new version of apartheid. Or we could revise the collusion with tyrannical regimes that overthrew and repress democracy.

Those who do not want to bother or disturb the policymakers could revise history; the aftershocks of which we are still experiencing. For example, it is worth considering and examining the colonial era that some nations do not dare hold anyone accountable for, apologise for its horrors, or condemn its culture. This includes the culture of civilizational superiority and the language of cultural arrogance that demand others stomp on their own sanctities.

By Hossam Shaker – The views expressed here are the author’s own.

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