Europe and Islam after 9/11

Prof. Faruk Sen
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The world, which saw the ruins of the Twin Towers five years ago, today has become a completely place, with changed conceptions of security and strengthened prejudices.  The days following 9/11 brought the world to a distinct balancing point from which there is no return. 
Even from the most optimistic viewpoint, the increasing influence of religious ideologies and power-dominated international politics would seem to seal the fate of the following few decades.

9/11 not only affected the USA or the Islamic world, which became a target after the attacks, but it also shook Europe deeply, where approximately 15 million Muslims live, mostly as immigrants. In addition to the fear of terror, because of the prejudices that arose from the lack of communication between the cultures, the Muslim immigrants have been affected more than the already settled Christian groups of European society. 

Research that we have conducted at the Center for Studies on Turkey indicates the gravity of the situation. According to this survey 47% of Germans think that Muslim culture does not fit in Europe. The percentage of those who think the cultural differences might lead to a conflict between the two societies is 58%, while 40% believe that an intercultural conflict is inevitable.

On the other side of the coin, we observe that the immigrants have become more religiously conservative. The annual survey carries out offers some concrete data. In the year 2000, those who defined themselves as religious was 73%, while this number reached 83% in 2005.

The new understanding of Islam combines the values of an industrial society with Islam and has created its own space of existence. We see a new Islam holding a frame of a secular world-view that has separated itself from Sharia and aggressiveness with thick borderlines.
Although it has become the third biggest religion in Europe, Islam is not officially recognized, outside of a few exceptional applications. In the process of dialogue, Muslims experience problems of organization and establishment; they seem to be the listening party of the monologue and they are always subject to various demands.

In order to overcome such shortcomings of the process, an Islam Summit is going to be held in Germany. The summit is supported by Minister of Interior Scäuble and will bring together representatives of Muslim organizations and high-level politicians. The summit will be convened at certain intervals and is expected to form a model for other countries in the European Union, where 4% of the population is Muslim.

However, such initiations of dialogue should not be kept within the frames of meetings but must also find practical applications. In the area of German politics, the structural organizations of Muslims should be recognized, both on legal and social grounds; courses of Muslim religion and culture should be compulsory at schools, and Muslim organizations should be supported financially.

However, there are some duties on the part of Muslims as well, with priority placed on public affairs and information, strengthening the structures of organizations, giving women more places at the administrative level, and an orientation toward European society.

* Faruk Sen, Director of the Center for Studies on Turkey, in Essen, Germany.

(October 2006, 22nd Issue)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07