Never-ending Islamophobia in Europe11 November 2022
Irfan Ashraf :
Europe, and especially France, needs to understand that hatred toward Muslims will only serve to disrupt peace in the continent. Discrimination against the faithful must end once and for all
Around 25 million Muslims live in the European Union, with 28 members. The majority of the people there have ended up unemployed due to the misperceptions and prejudgments about European Muslims, who are considered a "threat" to European societies and their domestic security because of an increase in radical activities and attacks by a fringe minority. Most Muslims are living in and advocating peace but the fact that these attacks are perpetrated by so-called "Muslims" is the lifeline for Islamophobia, plus, it is also evident that non-Muslims carried out terrorist attacks in Europe.
This kind of hatred against Muslims, which is rapidly increasing, leads to many devastating consequences and hate crimes against Muslims. One tragic example of this is the Islamophobic terrorist attack in New Zealand's Christchurch, which led to the mass killing of over 49 innocent Muslims. The world has witnessed genocide against Muslims in Syria, Palestine, India and in many other countries around the world so far. The global community must understand that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam and the stigma attached to Muslims only makes things worse.
History of Islamophobia in France
In 2011, France banned veils in public places. In August 2021, the highest authorities of France approved a controversial bill dubbed the "anti-separatism law," one of the most criticized laws in the nation's history. This law granted the French government more power over religious freedom, targeting over 3 million Muslims living in France. It is President Emmanuel Macron's program to "take up arms against terrorism." In the last two years, France closed 24 mosques under the pretext of "separatist activities."
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin closed many mosques because of so-called "radical Islam" tendencies. He closed the mosque in Beauvais, Obrenai Mosque in Bas-Rhin, and seized the bank accounts of the preacher of mosque, saying that "the preacher of the mosque is targeting Christians, homosexuals and Jews." In his tweet, he alleged, "The sermons propagated in this mosque are cultivating hatred toward France." This all happened after a teacher, Samuel Paty, was murdered upon displaying cartoons of Prophet Muhammad published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Recently, French far-right politician and former presidential candidate Marine le Pen called for closing more mosques in an interview with BFMTV. According to her, Darmanin closed many mosques and dismissed a preacher before he must now close all mosques on French territory. She insisted that closing more mosques and deportations of Muslims are necessary and that Muslims should be scrutinized on whether they have "Islamist" tendencies. Le Pen also said France should pursue a "merciless" fight against "Islamism." In April 2022, in her presidential campaign, she also pledged to ban the hijab (headscarf in Arabic) in public if elected.
Muslims' contribution to Europe
France and Germany are the European countries with the most Muslims, totaling 4.7 million, equaling 7.5% of the total population. According to anti-Muslim polling, Islam is one of the fastest-growing religions in France. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, Europeans borrowed many art styles, laws, educational materials and other aspects of life from Islamic communities. Muslims have saved ancient work through translation, inspiring future thinkers. Muslims have also helped Europe develop scientific methods that have helped agricultural techniques and the advancement of technology for the European people. They invented the modern university system in Europe. Muslims also worked tirelessly in medicine, much before Europeans were involved in healing the sick. Muslim doctors first studied the eye, performing lens replacement surgeries, discovering bacteria and the anatomy of the human body along the way, surpassing Europeans by a large margin. Between the seventh and 13th centuries, an era known as the "Golden Era of Islam," Muslims significantly contributed to European science and technology.
France and other countries must learn to respect Islamic teachings and ideology based on peace and love. By forced closures of mosques and restricting religious freedom and rights, France can only sow division and provoke the faithful.
(The writer is an Analyst on international relations based in Islamabad, Pakistan. Courtesy: Daily Sabah).