» 12/04/2009, 00.00
ISLAM - EUROPE
Fr. Samir: The refusal of the minarets, an opportunity to rethink Islam and Europe
Samir Khalil Samir
Opinion polls in Europe show that the Swiss referendum would have also won in France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria. The no to the minaret is a no to the increasing (and never satisfied) Islamist demands. The European population thinks differently and wants its leaders to reaffirm its identity. The no to the minarets is an invitation to true dialogue.
Paris (AsiaNews) - The outcome of the Swiss referendum has aroused a wave of inquiries and questions on the Internet and in print, with reactions, sometimes very violent, sometimes more favourable. Typically politicians have reacted negatively, criticizing this vote. Instead, people in Europe have been in favour of the outcome.
Some sites and European newspapers have thus voted:
Polls in Europe
In France, the newspaper Le Monde carried out a survey: "To hold a referendum like that of Switzerland is a sign of democracy or irresponsibility? 61.5% said it was a sign of democracy, 33.2% said it was irresponsible, to 5.3% no opinion.
L’Express posed another question: If the same referendum was held in France what would you answer? 86% answered yes, against the minarets, 11% no, 2% did not respond.
Le Figaro, which leans to the right: 77% yes to the ban, 23% no.
BFM, a television, reported these results: 75% yes, 25% no.
Radio Montecarlo 83% yes, 17% no; Euronews, which is to the left, 70% yes, 29% no, 1% do not know.
Le Soir in Belgium: 63.2% yes, 34% no; 2.8 without opinion.
In Spain,"Twenty minutes": 94% yes, 6% no. El Mundo: 79% yes, 21% no (with 25 thousand people surveyed).
In Germany, Die Welt online: 87% yes, 12% no, 2% do not know. In Austria, Die Presse: 54% yes, 46% no. Is the closest of all surveys.
In Italy I have seen only "Leggo" that gives 84.4% to the yes vote; 13.6% no, 2% do not know.
Nando Pagnoncelli, IPSOS director, said however that "in general the issue of Islam and immigration is causing concern and in some cases social alarm, because there is a perception of fanaticism". If there were a referendum like the Swiss, the voices are largely in favour of the ban.
In Holland Elzevier reported 86% yes, 16% no.
This gives a picture - perhaps not a perfect one but certainly an interesting one – of a reaction of fear widespread across Europe in the face of danger that comes from Islam. And there is also an act of courage of those who dare to say "enough" despite the propaganda of politicians and the threat of divisions that it has revealed. Commenting on the vote, Dr. Issam Mujahid, spokesman for the Muslim community of Brescia, said: "It 'a vote of fear," but he also added, "and we are all responsible."
Some thoughts on these data
This referendum can become a positive opportunity for us to reflect together. "Now, says Issam Mujahid, we must and we can assume our responsibility to work for dialogue among civilizations and reject the thesis of a clash of civilisations".
1. People in Europe do not reject the minaret to defend Christianity. Is not a religious problem: it is a problem of culture and visibility.
2. People feel that if they says yes to the minaret, tomorrow the call to prayer will also become widespread, then the microphones, then there will be requests for halal meat in school cafeterias or hospitals, then working breaks for the five prescribed daily prayers (as they tried to do with me at the University of Birmingham in 1991 when I taught there) ... Every now and then Muslims make fresh requests, which grow more and more insistent in places and countries, bringing new demands. And once they obtain a license to behave as they want they never turn back. Muslim groups have yet to be seen stopping their requests at some point. And that makes the Europeans think.
3. If we look at the situation of immigrants, only a little more than a third come from Muslim regions. Two thirds from other areas (Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America). Yet this third is the most discussed because it continually makes religious-cultural demands: The Vietnamese, Chinese, Indians, non-Islamic Africans, Latinos do not stake these claims or have this cultural visibility.
What is the problem?
4. Europe is discovering, with the presence of other cultures that itself has its own culture. The Italian reaction against the Strasbourg decision to abolish the crucifix in public places emphasizes the defence of an element of culture (as well as the religion of many). This rediscovery of culture is essential for dialogue. Muslims come with a strong sense of religious cultural identity because these two fields are not divided in the Islamic world. Europeans, who are the majority, however, find it difficult to say what their identity is. Now, there can be no real dialogue if a partner has a strong identity and the other weak one, or even if both partners are weak. Dialogue may be harder when both have a strong identity, but it is also richer and more valid!
5. On the other hand, Issam Mujahid says, “the culture of Muslim civil society organizations is lacking in Europe. In Europe, Islam is only represented by mosques. And this is wrong". Integrated Muslims in Europe do not help the immigrant Muslim community to integrate the values of European culture. For their part, imams are often not able to transmit these values, because they themselves have not received them.
6. The sense of the Swiss vote could be summed up as': "We no longer want to protect cultural diversity and guarantee religious freedom by submitting ourselves to the intolerance of Islam ... which in turn does not tolerate cultural diversity and religious freedom". Establish a true inter-cultural dialogue
This is an opportunity for Muslims to say what is really important in their faith and their culture and what is missing here in Europe. Certainly, the Muslim can not demand everything he had at home because he is living in another country that has its own laws, rules, customs, etc.. In doing so, we will see if it is possible to establish some directives at national, private or individual levels.
On the European side is time to ask ourselves what defines us and makes us who we really are.
Islam must renew itself, trying to distinguish between the essential and the occasional, and the West must also deepen its own sense of self and see what is essential to their own identity.
Take for example the veil
It is a precept, but it does not mean that it is essential. Many great Muslim authors have written about this. Gamal al-Banna, the younger brother of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, has written a book and several articles to say that the veil is not a requirement. It was at first a council given to wives of Muhammad, it is not clear whether this was for all women. Neither is it clear whether it is called for in a given situation or forever.
This is why up to 50 years ago in the Islamic world, the veil was almost disappeared from countries such as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, etc.. and no imam ever cried shame. Over the past 30 years it has started to come out again and today it has almost become an obligation. Muslims, throughout the course of history have made the distinction between what is fundamental and what is secondary. Even regarding prayer: very few Muslims pray 5 times a day. Increasingly we are seeing that the Muslim community is rejecting imposed religion and respects those who, while believers, do not practice. Religious freedom is the foundation of all freedoms, and if the Muslims demand it for themselves, and rightly so, in Europe, then they must give it to non-Muslims in Muslim countries.
The effort of exegesis and hermeneutics lies in discerning whether something is important or if it is something special, valid only for that time. Many Muslims attempt this exegesis, but the problems are many: there is no established doctrine, there is no teaching authority, an authority that decides and settles controversial issues ... T
27/11/2009 ISLAM - EUROPE
Fr. Samir: In Switzerland, yes minarets, no to the muezzin
The referendum on whether to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland is an opportunity to rethink the use of these architectural elements. Their use to call people to prayer; or the race to make them ever higher, competing with churches, is excluded. Europe must learn to live with Islam, but Islam also has to rethink its life in Europe as a minority.
01/12/2009 VATICAN - MIDDLE EAST
Fr. Samir: Islam in paralysis and war; the West without a memory
The situation in the Middle East is stagnant: a crisis of Islam drags everything into a fatal paralysis. The crisis also affects the West, oblivious to its Christian roots. Yet Islam and the West need each other. A study by our expert on Islam, in preparation for the Synod of the Churches of the Middle East.
Multiculturalism and Islam: Muslims in Europe, no to ghettos, yes to integration
Multiculturalism fosters fundamentalist violence. Politicians must concern themselves with integrating Muslims. The positive example of Denmark. Only with a strong identity can Europe help Muslims defeat fanaticism. Fourth in a series of articles.
If Muslims ask for Europe’s "empty" churches...
In France, an Islamic organization has asked the French Church for the opportunity to pray in unused churches. And what if Christians in Egypt and Algeria request the use of mosques on Sundays? In order to avoid increasing conflicts in Europe, Islam needs to become mentally and culturally Western.
03/12/2009 TURKEY – ISLAM
Switzerland may have acted badly, but is the Church truly free in Turkey, Turkish journalist asks
Turkish leaders react to Swiss referendum that bans minarets. Muslims are asked to withdraw their money from Switzerland. But some wonder whether the Turkish government should look into its own “nasty little secrets” to see the denied permits to build or restore churches and the promises made but never kept with regards to Saint Paul’s Church in Tarsus and the Orthodox theological school in Halki.
The tears of Chinese bishops. A portrait of Msgr. Zhuang, bishop of Shantou
A priest of the official Church, recalls the 88 year old bishop that the Vatican wants to replace with an illegitimate bishop, to please the regime. Mons. Zhuang Jianjian became an underground bishop at the behest of the Vatican in 2006. Card. Zen and Msgr. Zhuang, image of the faithful Church, "which provokes an immense sadness and a sense of impotence". The hopes of card. Parolin to console "the past and present sufferings of Chinese Catholics".
CHINA - VATICAN - HONG KONG
Card. Zen on the bishops of Shantou and Mindong
Card. Joseph Zen
The bishop emeritus of Hong Kong confirms the information published in recent days by AsiaNews and reveals details of his conversation with Pope Francis on these topics: "Do not create another Mindszenty case", the primate of Hungary whom the Vatican forced to leave the country, appointing a successor in Budapest, at the will of the communist government of the time.
14/02/2018 SINGAPORE - VATICAN
AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!
AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.