Return of the Muslim

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Europe Channel: Opinion Views: 4333
4333

In a few days time a cluster of far-right groups under the name the Stop the Islamisation of Europe alliance will hold rallies in London, Copenhagen and Marseilles to demand an end to what they call "the overt and covert expansion of Islam in Europe". Although the events are likely to attract no more than a handful of protesters, their message resonates widely. On Saturday the rightwing People's party, notorious for its virulent hostility to ethnic minorities and Muslims, emerged as the victor in the Swiss elections, taking 29% of the vote, the best electoral performance by a party in the country's elections since 1919. 

The far right is on the ascendancy in many parts of Europe. Beyond its explicit party political expressions, this assumes a more worrying form. What had been traditionally confined to the margins of dominant political discourse is progressively penetrating its mainstream, with parties of the centre absorbing much of the far right's populist rhetoric. This underlies the complaint by Jean-Marie le Pen, leader of the racist National Front, that Nicolas Sarkozy had "stolen his clothes". Across the Channel, the Tory candidate for the London mayoralty, Boris Johnson, believes that "to any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia - fear of Islam - seems a natural reaction". 

We are witnessing a reversion to the type of cultural essentialism that dominated political and academic discourse until the mid-1900s. Its central theme, the purity and superiority of European culture, was dealt a powerful blow by the tradition of post-colonial studies and radical critique of Orientalism. The trend brought together progressive, leftist voices from Europe and the US with others from the south amid the dismantling of modern-day empires and the rise of developing world liberation movements. 

The same discourse is reconstructing its terms today by substituting the classical east-west bipolarity at its core with one of "Islam" and "west". The west's rationality, tolerance, individualism and freedom are now contrasted with Islam's superstition, fanaticism, fatalism and repressiveness. In the history books, this trend has manifested itself in the resurrection of the myth of the benevolent empire, championed by figures such as Niall Ferguson and Andrew Roberts. 

September 11, the emergence of violent radical Islamic groups, and the war on terror have created fertile ground for the revival of this tradition. Its spirit permeates much of the language current in the political sphere and many sectors of the media. What had once been cause for disrepute now goes unquestioned and barely remarked upon. The vocabulary is various, from immigration, integration and citizenship to terrorism, radicalism, Islamism and an endless chain of -isms. But the referent is consistent: Islam and Muslims. It is a game of insinuations, of codes, in which meaning is readily conveyable without need for explicitness or directness. 

Beyond all the noise about Europe's "Muslim problem" lurks a growing unease about the changing texture of European society. Gone are the days of pure white, Christian Europe. Now Europe is multi-ethnic, multireligious and multicultural, a fact which many find hard to swallow. Muslims are part of this evolving reality, but the idea that the continent is being Islamised is a figment of the right's imagination. 

In a European population of some 540 million, Muslims number between 20 million and 25 million, or about 4%. The majority are underprivileged, and socially, economically and politically marginalised. Whatever the scaremongers say, Muslim armies are not at Europe's gate preparing to conquer. 

Obsession with the question of Britishness in the UK and with les valeurs de la Rpublique in France reflects a state of anxiety about identity. The collapse of empire, globalisation and flow of immigrants from the old colonies brought new peoples into Europe's bosom. The Muslim other - the Saracen or Turk, in opposition to whom Europe defined its imaginary geographic and cultural borders - is now located within its frontiers, a sort of internal outsider. From the periphery of the empire in distant overseas colonies in Lahore or Algiers, it has moved to the periphery of capitals and industrial cities in London or Paris. The borders of identity and culture are overlapping, making it impossible to draw rigid boundaries between east and west, Europe and Islam, white and black. 

At the heart of Europe's "Muslim problem" is an impotence and perhaps unwillingness to extend the norm of tolerance to newcomers from the Muslim world. Tolerance is not an abstract concept but the child of a specific historical context. In Europe it was the product of the religious wars, which ended in France, for instance, with the Edict of Nantes in 1598. Following the horrors of the Holocaust, the norm was widened to include Jews. And with the civil rights movement in the US, this was further extended to black people and other ethnic minorities - legally and theoretically, though not in practice. There is still resistance to the norm's broadening to encompass Muslims, something evident in the controversy over the building of mosques in northern Europe, as well as in the "veil problem" in France, Germany and other countries. 

Some quasi-liberals continuously ask how we can be tolerant with people who preach intolerance - by whom they mean, of course, Muslims. A better question could be: to what extent are those who profess tolerance really tolerant? 

Soumaya Ghannoushi is director of research at IslamExpo

[email protected]


  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: Europe  Channel: Opinion
Views: 4333

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Older Comments:
HALIM FROM MALAYSIA said:
No individual Muslim going around converting people into Islam. Explaining what is Islam to friends maybe. The rest is that every individual, himself/herself converting to Islam after their own searching. For them only Islam fullfill their emptyness. Only Islam give them the answers to their inner questions. Of course Christian Europe pickup on Muslims because Islam is the perfect system for here and hereafter in both universe !
Do not bash Romesh, he is only a small particle, trying to learn something here...have a nice weekend everybody..
2007-11-02

ITA ROSITA FROM INDONESIA said:
it is really bad moment for us as a moslem but we have to stay calm and respect to each other and not to provocate of them but we have to show them that moslem is the beautiful realigion, so it describe us that ourstuggle to tell the world what is the moslem is...
2007-11-01

KRIS MACPHERSON FROM MALAYSIA said:
Assalamualaikum and greetings,

I do not think that anybody is abusing Romesh Chander. Expect that he has tendencies to abuse this web site and hurl offensive remarks on others especially Muslims. He may say anything, including the preposterous remark that Muslims have low level of education. I certainly do not know what his level is.

What goes around comes around. Every reader or a visitor has a right to reply to his comments. If it is offensive, is it wrong to express our displeasure ? I don't see any shades or element of intellect in him. Or the misguided views that he so often expressed. He has a penchant to provoke others, that is all I see in him. I, for that matter will not reply to his antics unless I find it absolutely neccesary.
2007-10-31

IMRAN FROM USA said:
Folks abusing Romesh proves nothing.

It simply shows you fail to see the agenda of the right wing extremists is to sow the seeds of strife by making Christians hate Muslims and Hindus hate Muslims (and vice versa if such a term is applicable here).

Remember Allah (SWT) has said in words to this effect that HE, ALLAH (SWT)is the Best of Plotters!

Wonder why Islami City allows such articles online. Is Islamic City following its own hidden agenda?
2007-10-31

PARANOID FROM INDIA said:
A few years ago when I saw articles like these (http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/a100501b.html) and everyday saw some or the other headlines, both on islamic and non islamic site, the headlines that read "Islam is the fastest growing religion", deep down, I felt jitters. Muslims loathed at these headlines thinking that soon everyone around America and Europe would be a Muslim, but it was a mirage of sorts to me. There was a method to this madness and conspiracy behind these headlines, which to me, appeared exaggerated. This madness has to be stopped. Even if exaggerated, if there was one religion people were really converting to, it was and will remain, Islam!!

Now in order to make entry of Asian/Arab Muslims difficult and stop the preaching of Islam, there had to be a catalyst. An event that would justify sealing the borders to Muslim and justify putting Muslim scholars and 'Dais' behind bars. Come September 11. Why WTC7 (the achilles heel of Bush and his coterie) came crashing down on it's own footprint, someone will ask someday to the US congress but till then, the groundwork for stopping the tide of conversions and Muslim immigrants has been put in place.
And the reverse occupation of Muslim lands for the worst case of 'states sponsored burglary' of Oil...is unfolding.

Now, trolls like Romesh ask, Muslims should look why they are being denied access to european lands.

Why the muslims are made refugees in their own lands, their homes and lands confiscated and inhabitations destroyed in the name of 'shock and awe' and 'collateral damage', who's asking?

But Muslims should ignore the trolls like Romesh who may or may not be a Hindu but lurk around here to make a point against Islam and Muslims.

Instead, we should seek solace in these verses of God's own word:
"..And (the unbelievers) plotted and planned, and Allah too planned, and the best of planners is Allah."
2007-10-30

SAID C. FROM USA said:
Romesh! Your answer like with the animals you worship. You need to be enlightened! Do you have room????
2007-10-30

KRIS MACPHERSON FROM MALAYSIA said:
Assalamualaikum and greetings,

I and many Muslims like me are not perturbed at all by this hate campaign. We hold fast to the belief in ALLAH alone.

Europeans, the right wing of left wings, or whatever wings they wish to call themselves may do as what they please. Europeans ( including my ancestral lineage )also have excesses of baggage in history. They were the conqeurors and conquistadors. Their conquest of Latin America, the brutal treatment of the Incas, and the mayans speaks volumes of their behaviourial norms.

This hate campaign against Muslim is nothing new anyway. So what ? Whither the democracy, the liberty and freedom that they, Europeans claim to hold so dear. And all these claim for respect for human lives. And human culture and diversities.

Muslims like me will continue to call all Europeans to Islam, but at the same time we respect their choice of faith. There is no compulsion of religion in Islam. If Europeans really study history and the growth of Islamic civilization then they'll be amazed by Islam and the message that Islam brings. Tony Blair, a former Premier of the U.K is said to have read the tranlated copy of the Quran. In one speech in the UK House of Commons he mentioned that Jesus ( a.s ) is very reverred in Islam as a Prophet of GOD. Blair also mentioned that there are more reverence to Mary the virgin in the Quran than the bible itself.

As a Muslim, I can tell you this, our Quran is the same, there is no iota of difference in any Quran. We have the same Quran everywhere. And our message to the west is the same, Accept Islam. But even if you don't then that is your freedom of choice that we'll have to respect. Infact in one hadith, Prophet Muhammad was saidv to have mentioned that if any Muslim does any injustice to a non Muslim, then the Prophet will be a witness against such injustice in the Day of Judgment.
Wassalam.
2007-10-30

ZALEEMA FROM USA said:
It bothers Muslims to read articles such as these, however instead of letting the blood pressure rise Muslims should ask themselves "What I am doing to present the true Islam". Humans are all alike they fear the unknown so if Islam remains unknown to them of course they will continue to fear it and those who professes its beliefs.
2007-10-29

GREGORY ABDUUL MUMIN THOMAS FROM USA said:
it it very sad that Muslim Imam and Schlars of Europe and USA do not teach the important sudject of Hijrah to Muslim lands as we are prescribe to do as in the example of the Quran and the sunnah and the most recent hijrah of the Muslims of Spain to Morocco some 800 years ago, this is a sign that the Muslim are after the dunya and not after the perfection of the deen of Islam.So the punishment will continue until they make Hijrah and develop the Muslim Lands and earn the reward promise to those who make Hijrah.
2007-10-29

MARTIN FROM AUSTRALIA said:
What's the big deal. If you are not wanted just go home where there is abundance of food, employment, entertainment, etc. Back to the Islamic homeland; away from the kafirs. Allah will provide not the kafirs (infidels). Right?
2007-10-29

YOHAN DAHAL FROM BHUTAN said:
Rod from Canada responds ... Because Muslims are the bearer of the message of Truth ...

The Lord Jesus Christ said "I am the way, the truth and the life..." Are they bearing the message of Christ? How are they bearing the message of truth otherwise? Are they not hitting on the ground of truth on the heads of the drunken and decaying west to take root and grow thereon with their supplanter, the last prophet considered to supersede the beginning?
2007-10-29

JAMES FROM USA said:
Turst me Romesh Chander, Eurpoeans hate you too, you are not just a priority, infect no body like curry eating ugly hindus, you are just not a threat to them. Islam on the other hand has been a threat to them, intellectually and ideologically.
2007-10-29

ASLAM MOHAMMED FROM INDIA said:
Romesh Chandra is a Hindu, Ask him why dose he drink cow's Urine, Ask him to read about ramyan he will understand what type of relion he is following. Nothing Much ...
2007-10-28

TRENT PITT FROM USA said:
For Europe and the world the answer to the challenge of Islam is embracing and spreading Biblical Christianity.
2007-10-28

TEIL FROM USA said:
The Jews did a great deal to incur the wrath of the Europeans. Any true examination of history will uncover that. Hatred and anger like that wasn't created in a vacuum.
2007-10-28

ROD FROM CANADA said:
To Mr. Chander:

Because Muslims are the bearer of the message of Truth.

Peace, Rod
2007-10-28

AHMED FROM USA said:
Their sons and daughters are turning to Islam for answers and thats why they cannot stand Islam. Romesh, fyi, no one is converting to Hinduism or Slavism, so why would they see those as a threats.
2007-10-28

AZIZ UL HUQ FROM USA said:
Mr. Romesh Chandar:

Please remember two things:

1. What did the Jewish people do in Europe to deserve the treatment they got from the fellow Europeans.
2. Once the flame of hatred is kindled it burns every one. Do you think others who look different in the European society will be spared even if it targets Muslims?
Please try to spread peace and encourage building bridges.
2007-10-27

ROMESH CHANDER FROM USA said:
Stop Islamization of Europe. Hum. Why do europeans pick only on muslims? Why not "DeHinduisation of Europe"? (There are plenty of Hindus at least in UK/Ireland and also in France and Switzerland and now even in Germany). Why not deSlviation of Europe (There are plenty of Slavs from former USSR and other satellite countries in western europe). Etc.

Now tell me what did muslims do to earn this wrath of europeans? There must be some reason behind it. If they are racists, then they have to be racists against all, i.e., against Hindus, Buddhists, etc too.

As usual, The article does just the complaining; but no explaining. May be it is easier to be a cry baby.
2007-10-27