Muslim immigration in Europe: origins, failures and prospects
Prague (AsiaNews) – Islam in general, European Islam in particular, is called to reform its way of thinking and reasoning; otherwise, it will be swept away by time or become a source of anxiety and war, this according to Hocine Drouiche, imam at a Nîmes Mosque, who spoke at a conference in the Czech capital of Prague titled ‘Migration: a response to a forced relocation’.
Held on 11 and 12 December, the seminary was organised by the European People's Party, as part of its studies and policies dedicated to migrants. In addition to the Imam Drouiche, vice president of the Association of Imams of France, Catholic, Jewish, Orthodox religious leaders attended the event, along with Members of the European parliament.
For Imam Drouiche, the version of political Islam that is spreading in Europe (exported from migrants’ countries of origin, particularly Arab countries) is too confrontational and based on outdated historical interpretations. In his view, European culture can be a model to inspire the reform and modernisation of Islam, so that it can assimilate reason and human rights.
Social studies show that there is no standard European model of integration nor single national models for immigrants or first-generation Muslims. This is the case s because [Europe’s] "living together" is based on the principle of subsidiarity, which in European jargon means that immigration falls under the jurisdiction of [European Union member] states and local authorities, in accordance with the system of host countries.
At the same time, if we tried to lock in the experience of immigrants, their first generation offspring or Muslims to, for example, France’s republican and Jacobin model, the UK’s communitarian model, or Germany’s allegedly multicultural federalist model, we would be turning the thing into an even greater caricature.
Muslim immigration in Europe could lead to intercultural conflicts within local societies. With globalisation, such conflicts could turn into actual wars, especially between extremists on both sides.
Immigration calls for the study into the problems of history, and the differences in cultures and religions, which were the cause of several wars between peoples, especially between the Christian West and the Muslim East.
According to many Muslim thinkers, the tendency of Islam and Muslims towards domination or new conquests comes from a misunderstanding of the history of Islam, which emerged primarily to free human beings and make them sole responsible for their actions.
No one has the right to judge others or prevent them from choosing their own religion or way of life. This requires a lot of work and commitment in Islamic research and jurisprudence.
If integration means anything, it is the fruit of permanent adjustments between communities and policies. It is even more the fruit of an often-contentious dialogue between dominant groups (North Africans in France, Turks in Germany, Indians and Pakistanis in the UK), local and national government institutions, and their respective perceptions of each other.
In order to understand the failures, prospects and consequences of Muslim immigration in Europe we must return to its cultural roots and the sources of the adversarial relationship found between European Muslims and local societies.
We must look at:
- the Islamic discourse and Islamic thinking towards Europe;
- the literalist reading of religious texts and the narrowed place of reason in the cultural life of European Muslims;
- the importation of negative views about Europe (anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism, Crusades, the Holocaust and Judeophobia, etc.) from Arab political Islam;
- and the inability of differentiating oneself from the political positions of Arab societies.
One can clearly see that the Islamic discourse in France is emotional, populist and confrontational. Reforming its form and content becomes necessary for societal stability, the future of living together and the future of Islam in Europe.
Centred on self-pity and emotion, this Islam encourages young people to proselytise, and encourage various kinds of jihad (physical, electronic, financial, etc.) to achieve Islam’s global domination instead of engaging in a rational discourse that encourages respect for religious and cultural diversity.
Imported from Muslims’ countries of origin, this discourse centred on force and the will to dominate may become a factor in the destabilisation of the relationship between European Muslims and Western societies, especially at a time of deep economic crisis, and rising political extremism in several European countries.
Consequently, European Islam tends towards power and domination before dialogue and integration, death before life, imitation before analysis and creativity, emotion before reason, and the past before future. Such a literalist interpretation will eventually bring Muslims and Islam in direct conflict with Christian values, as well as the history and culture of local societies.
Whilst Islam came to free men and women from all forms of slavery and persecution, offering a religion of peace, equality and living together, today’s Muslims suffer from multiple dangerous handicaps that are incompatible with their religion and universal values that today constitute the international family.
Muslims have their work cut out against:
- a feeling of superiority of the Muslim nation over other nations;
- the absolute certainty of holiness and superiority of Muslim culture;
- the absence and refusal of any critical thinking vis-à-vis religious rules or cultural life in Muslim society;
- the [desire to] return to a perfect and holy past (hence, since an ideal model existed in the past, there is no need to look for anything in the future);
- and a refusal to change.
Islam, which is a laboratory of life and hope, faces today a real crisis that has turned it into a religion of death, hatred and terrorism.
Western civilisation is unique in its inventions, achievements, creativity, and technology but also in it human rights, individual freedoms, humanism, and capacity to progress and reform.
Dominated by contemporary political Islam, modern Islamic thinking does not fully recognise such values, which are the best mechanisms for political governance that humanity has known; or it deems them as in direct contradiction with the values of Islam. Consequently, from an Islamist perspective, democracy, liberalism and secularism are considered disbelief and apostasy.
Muslims persecuted by Islam
Many Muslim thinkers, journalists, women and men have been murdered, jailed or exiled to Europe and the United States because they are secular, liberal or because they changed religion or became atheists.
Anti-colonial, anti-imperialist political Islam reformatted and reprogrammed Islamic reasoning by relying on self-pity informed by a general conspiracy theory, which promotes the disastrous idea according to which the whole academic world – its universities, research centres and think thanks – was created to plot against the Muslims!
This kind of political Islam, which experienced serious failure in the Arab world, has imported the same ‘resistance’ plan into Europe where Muslims have graduated from being immigrants or refugees to being full citizens thanks to Europe’s exceptional democratic and human values. Lest we forget, many Muslims have lived for decades in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, etc., and yet are still without voting rights or citizenship.
European Muslims ought to double check and review their plans to adapt Islam to the values of local societies so that they can be realistic. We must also keep in check the pride that many representatives of political Islam present today on the European scene.
The West with its values and its progress can be the best example for building a prosperous future. Otherwise, we shall continue to engage in wishful thinking, trying to replicate a past deemed holy and sacred.
The Muslim world has lived through centuries of scientific, technological, economic and social backwardness. This has morphed into a deep cultural and rational crisis. As a result of globalisation, local crises have spilled over its borders, and the whole world has begun to suffer the effects of Muslim crises.
Such suffering can lead to rejection, even hatred, especially if Europe’s Muslim elites fail to take on their historical and moral responsibility to reform their religious discourse and find a positive and sincere balance, without any desire for cultural or religious domination, so as to reassure local societies with respect to their culture, religion, future, etc.
A majority of Muslims no longer identifies with an Islam that pushes more back into the past than forward into the future, towards power rather than dialogue, towards hatred more than love.
For centuries, rationalists did not have a place in Muslim intellectual life. From the Mu`tazilites and the Ikhwan al-safa to Avicenna (ibn Sīnā), al- Fārābī, Averroes (Ibn Rushd), Mohammed Arkoune, Nasr Abu Zayd, and Taslima Nasrin, these and other free thinkers fought a close-minded and sometimes violent and terrorist cultural and religious system.
Fortunately, Muslim immigrants to Europe do not advocate the same ideas. Europe has become the land of refuge for many Muslims who no longer recognise themselves in their society or who no longer accept the model of Islam proposed by various Islamic groups that end up killing each other!