EU academics have identified that understanding different Islamic cultures, based on perceptions of regional identity, is pivotal to the successful integration of Muslim communities in Europe.
Their research was presented alongside Indonesian experts at a seminar last Wednesday, organized by the European Union Delegation to Indonesia, to promote interfaith dialogue between Indonesia and the EU.
In a keynote presentation, Agata Nalborczyk from the University of Warsaw, Poland, stated that there was “no single [Islamic] situation in Europe” stressing the existence of “different levels of religious and nationalistic identity”.
This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog - islamineurope.blogspot.com
She highlighted that “British Muslims from Pakistan held different religious beliefs to Tatar Muslims from Poland”, concluding that Islamic values often depend on individuals’ backgrounds and communities, rather than a universal mindset. Agata represents a group of European scholars who approach Islamic studies from a scientific, sociological level. Her work primarily attempts to analyze the role of the state and its effect on religious immigrant groups in Europe, noting governments should focus on integration over assimilation.
“The main problem Europe faces is citizenship and confessional laws. The French government relies on assimilation — immigrants are encouraged to think ‘I’m French’. The UK has a much better policy, it permits immigrants to remember their origins, such as British-Muslims or British-Pakistanis.”
The architecture of mosques in Europe also shows how different Islamic groups have integrated into European communities, she said, giving examples of mosques in Birmingham, the UK, made from local red bricks that attempt to blend in with the surrounding landscape.
In referring to recent protests that erupted in Cologne, Germany, when a new-age mosque’s minaret was planned to rise higher than the city cathedral’s, she emphasized the acceptance of mosques in Europe was an increasing problem.
“Many people see mosques as a threat, but they should see them as meeting places for interfaith discussions and a step toward integration for Muslim communities”.
This research was presented as part of broader dialogue the EU is initiating with Indonesia over Islamic integration in Europe. The discussions hope to draw upon Indonesia’s experience as the world’s largest Muslim-majority democracy.
Source: Jakarta Post