Is Europe Trying to Build a Fundamentalist Islam?

People with a Muslim background living in Europe are often reduced to their religious identity by the authorities in their countries. "Muslims" are seen as a problem group. But many immigrants do not identify themselves by religion. The American historian Philip Jenkins says that this religious identification by the authorities has highly damaging consequences

Treating all European Muslims under the single inflexible label of "Islam" encourages a sense of supranational religious identity that runs flat contrary to goals of assimilation, writes Jenkins | Most Europeans recognize that the arrival of immigrant communities over the past few decades will change their societies, although they disagree just how radical those changes will have to be. Usually, the debate lies between those who want to accommodate Islam, and those who try to limit its impact.

At one extreme, Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, attracted national fury in Britain when he declared that the establishment of a parallel Sharia law system in that country was "unavoidable".

But a more basic issue is at stake: when European governments try to respond to a "Muslim problem", are they actually making communities much more solidly Muslim? Do they not realize that in practice, they are helping create a monolithic Islam?

Of course, Europe has a large population drawn from traditionally Muslim societies, probably some 24 million people in the lands west of the Russian frontier, or 4.6 percent of the whole. But we have no idea how many of those regard themselves primarily as Muslim by faith and culture.

In all societies, people have multiple identities from which to choose, and religion may or may not occupy a primary place. Class, culture, nationality, region, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity and age can all present rival loyalties.

Just because many Germans or Italians describe themselves as Christian does not mean that this religious identity trumps all others, and we cannot make the same assumption about Muslims.


Source: Quantara (English)

1 comment:

joe six-pack said...

One of the problems is that many are more loyal to Islam than they are to their respective governments. Islam has a foreign policy and a legal system that has been recognized for 1400 years. Islam was designed as a nation-state long before they became common. Many of the 'authentic' laws are openly hostile to our system of government and our culture. This is a contributing cause of warfare throughout the Islamic world and in the places Islam is making intimate contact with other cultures.