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Reflection of Mental Collapse: Islamophobia (January 9, 2015)

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Christian Europe, inspired by Giles Kepel, sees the new Muslim institutions in Europe (from halal food to business, financial and educational institutions) as instruments for the global spread of Islam and develops some counter-rhetoric with this phobia. The clearest example of this is the PEGIDA (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes), the “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamicisation of the Occident” movement, of which feasibility and exploration seem to date back a long time. As its name suggests, the movement is of anti-Islamic origin rather than a racist originated.

Reflection of mental collapse: Islamophobia*

Pope Francis, in his statement on his return from his visit to Turkey, described the events, especially ISIS, as a fragmented World War III. In fact, after the attacks on the USA on September 11, 2001, the Western Alliance started the World War III. They identified Islam and Muslims with terrorism and made them the focal center by threatening the whole world. After this stage, they moved the conflict areas to the Islamic geography and started the asymmetric war which is still ongoing. As it will be remembered, George W. Bush openly stated that they started a "Crusade" in this regard. The 2004 bombing of the train station in Madrid, and the bombing of London on July 7, 2005, were directly targeted by politicians and right-wing media in Europe, and it was loudly stated that liberalism and Christian values must be protected against the “threat of Islam”. The racial hostility and attacks against migrants since the past have changed dramatically and clearly evolved into Islamophobia.

Ignoring the fact that European governments have failed to produce appropriate, consistent and sustainable policies in the process of integrating Muslim minorities into European society and holding European Muslims responsible for this is nothing but misleading the public opinion. The main reason for this failure is that European states are very slow to respond to the needs of the Muslim minority with their own civil rights in their own countries and to solve their problems, and Europe is extremely reluctant to do so. The fact that Muslims have no direct influence in determining public policies has reinforced the feeling that they are subjected to social discrimination. Therefore, Muslims have become culturally alienated from the societies they live in, and some of them have found themselves in an insecure environment and have turned into closed congregations. Naturally, some illegal structures have sought to penetrate them, viewing this state of introversion as a Human Resources Center.

Multiculturalism

The Christian world needs to know that the assimilation of Muslims and Jews by death threats and deportation in Andalusia at the end of the 1400s is no longer possible. The main instrument that exists in every society is nothing but social integration, which can be described as giving and obtaining in a mutually win-win relationship without marginalizing each other. If social integration policies are not carried out in a healthy way, both sides will quickly drift towards integrism, and it has been seen that traditional Christians and secularists who are anti-Islamic have already drifted towards this integrist idea over Islamophobia.

To give an example of different perspectives and reactive approaches in this regard, the former Anglican Bishop of England, Lord Harries, said that it would be appropriate to read the Qur'an at the coronation ceremony of Prince Charles in order to make Muslims feel accepted in the society but traditional Christians strongly condemned this statement. In fact, Douglas Murray, editor of Spectator magazine reacted in this way: “If the Qur'an is to be read in such a ceremony, then prayers for the King and the Armed Forces should be prayed for in Jumma prayers in mosques in England.”

As it is understood from these and similar reactions, it is a reality that even "separate space" regulations or "multiculturalism" approach as the minimum integrationist solution in Europe is not welcomed. Both European Muslims, European Christians and liberal secularists need to be willing to change and adapt themselves in parallel with this change. Unless this is achieved, it must be accepted with certainty that social integration of all minorities, including Muslims, into the European societies in which they live will not be possible. This suppression and neutralization, which has been going on for years, fuels the conflict of values through Islamophobia. It should not be forgotten that forcibly dragging into this conflict environment will bring with it bigger problems, including terrorizing minorities.

Integration of Islam in Europe

In fact, basically these problems are related to the state policies created about the place of Christianity in the formation of the public identity of Europe, whether the state will determine a neutral position on theological issues or not. Huntington mentions that Islam and Christianity are in competition with each other for global domination and control. When this rivalry is interpreted with the early transition of the Christian world to a secular understanding, it strengthens Bernard Lewis's thesis that “In a competition between Islam and disbelief, Islam will definitely dominate and prevail”. To explain Lewis's definition of “disbelief”; It is clear that what is meant by disbelief is not atheism, but a secularized Christianity. Christianity has evolved into a "post-historical" period since it became embodied in the philosophical and practical sense of "Protestant Ethics", and in this period Europe entered into a complete mental/intellectual recession and collapse. However, the strong civilizational memories of Muslim societies, that is, their desire to return to their own codes, which we can call the "historical period" (especially after modernization), still remain alive despite some breakdowns in the meaning of values. Since they see belief systems such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism as more introvert and do not see them in content and potential to create competition for them, they have not taken an opposite/hostile position for now. At the same time, they think that they do not carry the risk of reckoning and confrontation. Therefore, the European mentality, which does not want to let go of the control of the "post-historical" period, which describes the era we live in, does not want to confront and encounter the historical period. And they perceive this encounter as a threat to themselves, whether traditional Christians or secular modernists. Therefore, there is a domestic and one-sided conflict over the integration of Islam in European countries. One of the local causes and key factors of domestic conflicts in their histories of modern European states is the "balance pact" that European states made with the churches. The reflection of the understanding of Islamic civilization and culture in the social sphere in Europe and the increasing social acceptance made it necessary to reconsider these pacts.

We need to emphasize again the reluctance of European countries to produce and develop policies for the social integration of migrant Muslims. European Muslims rightly see this reluctance as a kind of discrimination in basic humanitarian issues such as daily life, business life, education and social services.

Temporary Migrant Worker Project

The Western perspective initially looked at migrants with an economic projection, considering the public interest. It encouraged the arrival of migrants regardless of portfolio because they had employment problems in the population and heavy labor force. In this period, that is, in the policies established in the 1950s and 1960s, it was not envisaged that Muslims would stay in the West for long.  Because the arriving people were largely worker migrants, and mostly men whose wives were not with them. The general tendency was that they would return to their families and homes with the money they had saved. Migrant Muslims began to stay in Europe and even bring their families so, they blocked the anticipated cycle and thus the “temporary migrant worker project” collapsed.  In the new situation, the European governments and the Christian society had difficulties in perceiving, tolerating and reducing this demand to real politics in the face of the naturally developing integration demands of the Muslims. They hindered the freedom policies on democracy, citizenship with equal rights, religious freedom, social rights etc. with their security policies and they became the party which initiated the conflict.

Considering that there are over 15 million Muslims living in Western Europe today, it is no longer possible to see and treat this society as migrants. Because, with the new generation, those who settled in Europe and made a home for themselves, physically and mentally, provided a location for themselves in the status of European natives. Therefore, Europe should immediately get rid of its traditional Christian reflexes with all its elements and put the neutrality of the state on its agenda and how it is possible to treat different religious traditions equally. If a permanent peace and a conflict-free Europe is wanted, it should be seen as the main postulate that the rights of citizenship with equal rights should be shaped in a fair manner within the constitutional framework, with wide-ranged public participation, and their immediate implementation.

Belonging to Europe

Christian Europe, inspired by Giles Kepel, sees the new Muslim institutions in Europe (from halal food to business, financial and educational institutions) as instruments for the global spread of Islam and develops some counter-rhetoric with this phobia. The clearest example of this is the PEGIDA (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes), the “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamicisation of the Occident” movement, of which feasibility and exploration seem to date back a long time. As its name suggests, the movement is of anti-Islamic origin rather than a racist originated.

It should be considered a defacto situation that Islam is now minority religion in Europe. There are more Muslims than Catholics in Protestant Northern Europe, and more Muslims than Protestants in the Catholic South. While most Europeans still advocate the primacy of Christianity when confronted with Islam, others highlight a commitment to secularism as a core European value. At this stage, seeing the Muslim population in Europe as diaspora communities instead of treating them as natives will make the existing and possible problems unsolvable. As soon as a society begins to be seen as a diaspora, that society is closed to a conservative integrist understanding that protects the cultural identity, language and dynamics of the country or countries to which it belongs. As a result, all types of integration are suspended. However, European Muslims want to belong to Europe. If this belonging issue is succeeded, these communities will raise their politicians, clergy, businessmen and academics according to the conditions of the country they live in and will provide added value to their country in every field. However, the Islamophobic approach and policies that have been made for years are dragging European Muslims into the trap of organizations such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS, even if it is in a marginal number.

It should not be forgotten that the dark and deep superior mind projects that try to implement Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" theory through Islamophobia will strengthen the already existing political and economic regional instability in Europe. 

* This article is published on January 08, 2015 in Yeni Şafak in abbreviated form.

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