Islamophobia the vanguard for ‘European Islam’

Few exceptions aside, it is very difficult to hear a sermon in that country’s language upon entering any mosque in Europe. The language used is generally the language of the descendents of the mosque’s founders and its congregation. All of a sudden one gets the sense of being in a mosque in Anatolia or Pakistan. Not just the language, but all the rituals adopted in the mosque, right down to its decorations are reminiscent of the cultural roots of its congregation. Mostly they resemble poor copies of the societies they hail from.

The Muslim reality in Europe is such that it will leave a strange feeling among those who are not aware of the socio-cultural realities of Muslims, but is actually a natural consequence. People who left their homelands and came here put aside all the ways they use to express their material being and prioritized their sense of belonging to Islam, which is their ontological identity. They organized in terms of culture, knowledge, mannerisms and money and expressed their presence through building small mosques in run-down locations. Even if such a situation indicates a society that has chosen to be introverted, it is extremely significant in terms of them trying to create a zone of expression.

On the other hand, the means of Islam expressing itself to European societies has been minimal. This is both a result of a forced choice due to sociological realities and also a deficiency. As a result Islam, to a large extent, presented itself as a religion and culture of immigrants.

The only exception to all this is Austria… For almost a century, Islam has been an official religion in Austria. The historical reason behind this is its considerable Muslim population after the Habsburg Empire’s i.e. the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s occupation and annexation of Bosnia. Within this framework, Islam is defined as a religion with legal rights and a set status in Austria. After a long passage of time Austria took an unprecedented step and introduced a new law regulating the status, rights and other related issues regarding Islam and Muslims. The law very clearly seeks to make Islam, which legally and historically has been a principal element of the country, into the “other;” treats it differently from other religions and views its adherents as potential criminals.

It would be useful to touch upon the painful aspect of this incident before delving into what this signifies. There were no effective organized religious congregations, associations and institutions in the country when the bill came to the agenda and gradually proceeded to become law. The reactions to this bill were very tepid and disorganized and far from convincing. Moreover, institutions in Turkey associated with this matter neither had effective cooperation with pressure groups there nor was any action taken at an official level. In all probability, messages of condemnation will increase once the deed is done and then it will be forgotten.

In short the Austrian Islam law is one form of the active implementation and legalization of the “European Islam” project. Technical details of the law aside, Austria’s nurturing of its own Muslim preachers and banning external finance – something that is not applicable to any other religion – imposes a single type of interpretation of the Quran.

“European Islam” is a different version of the “moderate Islam” project that started being mentioned after Sept. 11, 2001. The groundwork for this was available: Substituting extremist and violent Islamist tendencies with a modern and appropriate version!

Once the “Islam law” took effect in Austria, similar demands started being heard in other European countries as well. Germany, in any case, is creating deep-rooted theological and political infrastructure to this end. France, with its known Jacobite tendencies, is implementing such policies and restrictions more directly. However, it has not made such a radical decision yet.

Current developments, which lay the groundwork to put in place the legal infrastructure for the “European Islam” model, will be cited as the reason for this. Leaving aside cheap justifications such as “these laws wouldn’t pass this easily if it weren’t for certain events that fuel Islamophobia,” a serious misconception exists. Some Muslim representatives made similar remarks: these laws will fuel Islamophobia!

The biggest misconception arises when the West’s perception of Islam and its policies about Islam centered on Islamophobia are evaluated, and this is where that perception is shattered. Islamophobia is not a new phenomenon as a societal, cultural and historical reaction. What is new is that Islamophobia is being used and instigated for political motives, for societal engineering, and even as an element in strategic calculations.

The occasional transformation of Islamophobia into hatred of Islam is not independent of global policies on Islam. The theoretical foundations of this were laid when moderate Islam started being proposed as a strategic element following the end of the Cold War.

It is known which actors and arguments were used to introduce the moderate Islam project in the Middle East. Even though it is not uniform in America, it has been secularized and is the first move for a Protestant Islam model as a part of the project of European Islam. What is sought is a transformation to European values as Muslim workers move from being migrant workers to permanent residents and make up around 10 percent of Europe’s population, and also following the infusion of Islam into the West. This is a consequence of the West being deprived of the experience of living with those different from itself throughout history and the resistance that arises due to this. Sociologically speaking, Europe’s integrating the “others” since it can no longer oppose them, indicates the will to not stand alongside Islam, which has also issued a challenge against the collapse of the modern world, as a civilization.

lgili YazlarEnglish

Editr emreakif on February 28, 2015



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