The Differences and Perceptions of a Europe under Threat: Islamisation and Islamofascism in Context

5 Oct

In a constantly changing world and a post-modern Europe, the author, David LaBoon (2011) expresses the view that there exists a cultural and religious struggle to reterritorialize the European political and cultural space in response to globalization and increasing geopolitical issues and the shifting borders of Europe (p. 50). Indeed, there is a clear perception that the primacy of Eurocentric conceptions of identity; or Eurocentrism, are held as ‘universal or natural’ and perceived to be under attack from what is defined as the ‘Muslim problem’ or ‘Muslim other.’ It is clear that these perceptions are influenced by issues such as the global movement of people (immigration); the veil in the public space; acts of Islamist terrorism; and over a decade of international tensions arising from civil wars and Western invasions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The world media’s role has also ‘politicized’ perceived threats against European conceptions of group and collective identities, and pit the Christian ideology against Islamic, increasing tensions between the two, resulting in a ‘power struggle’ that has significantly harmed the space of intercultural dialogue and inter-religious relations. Even political, civil society, Far Right and cultural organizations have fanned the flames of difference. Individuals fight it out on social media, daily. It combines to whip a storm and set the scene for proxy wars based on the politics of identity.

This fear and hatred of East against West, is a self-perpetuating cycle of vicious atrocity after atrocity and endless violence and social, cultural and political hyperbole and scare-mongering by deluded knuckle-draggers on both sides. At its least harmful, it is blatant political rhetoric and manoeuvring and prejudicial tat-for-tat nonsense, that has pit community against community; government against government; and people against people. The cycle appears endless and doomed to destruction; because no-one has offered a viable solution to resolve the issues to bring about peace and understanding between the two, or appears willing to listen to the other side and the solutions and proactively work toward them. Thus, in order for Muslims to fit in with European and Western ideals of secularism, equality, and liberalism… it is maintained that ‘Muslims’ must adapt and conform to the legitimized European notion of national unity. In contrast, Muslims claim this is proscriptive and enforced abandonment of their cultural and religious identities; resulting in the rise of the Islamist movement, increasing politicization of Muslim presence and identity and also home-grown terrorists in Europe and the West. Many Muslims are hyper-sensitive about this and see themselves as the ‘victims’ and crusaders against Western totalitarianism.

Europeans fear the increasing presence of Muslim immigrants setting up homes in their green and once ‘white only’ communities, and unwanted changes to their traditional landscapes and architecture with the building of mosques and minarets. European communities have become increasingly intolerant of the Muslim presence and ascribe to the notion of B.A.N.A.N.A (building absolutely nothing, anywhere near anyone); because Islam is viewed as incompatible and not part of European society, values, or identity. If the building of a mosque is proposed, then it is immediately challenged through legislation or the planning process because the ‘minaret is (and shouldn’t be) higher than the church spire.’ The presence of Muslims and Islam are always challenged as being detrimental to ‘my’ sense of identity and what ‘I’ perceive to be ‘relevant, acceptable and tolerable to me.’ And so it goes… ‘I don’t like the clothes you wear, so you should dress like me if you wish be a part of this society.’ In much of Europe, this pathological and schizophrenic resentment of Muslims has encouraged governments to introduce laws that increasingly restrict the rights of Muslims, giving special protections to the rights of European communities and cultural values. For Muslims, this is an intolerable attempt to enforce conformity and marginalize their faith and identity. Coupled with US and European invasions and assaults on MENA countries, resulting in hundreds and thousands of needless Muslim deaths and clear evidence of torture and rendition; Muslims have responded with violent acts against Europe nations and governments and challenged the laws of governments they perceive to be intolerable and a threat to their civil liberties.

Neither Muslims nor Europeans are willing to accept the positive contributions of the other. Both constantly attack one another and believe they are under constant attack and that their freedoms, history and identities are being eroded by the presence of the other. Muslim terrorists have acted with extreme forms of violence and terrorist acts such as with the bombing of London in July 2005 and the crashing of two planes into the World Trade Center in September 2001. Europeans turn to violent protests and choose to burn down mosques, because they fear their presence and that of Muslims is polluting their society and slowly taking it over and that soon they will be powerless and forced to live under Sharia. Even before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the retaliatory attacks of Al-Qaeda on Western society; Muslims and Europeans consider the other an invader. So the cycle of intolerance continues and there appears little sign of abating or of coexistence.

Indeed, Muslim terrorists are fascists of today, as the Germans and Italians were in the 20th century. Radical Muslim terrorists are intent on the destruction of Western society. But they will never succeed. In tackling radical Islam, Europeans should not fear the presence of peaceful Muslims who simply wish to settle and live in the abode of the West. It is Muslim fascists who despise Europe and the West for its perceived neo-imperialist efforts to control and profit from the Middle East and defeat Islam so that Western values hold social, cultural and political dominance on the world stage. These Muslims are Islamofascists and fascism is fascism, as neo-imperialism is capitalist with some elements of fascism. However, the largest and most persistent faction of fascism in Europe is the rise of the Far Right. But all forms of fascism should and will be routed out by governments and their security services. Islamofascism has little or no presence in Europe; it is largely present in Middle Eastern and African countries, as a counter-response to Western incursion into predominantly Islamic countries and persecution of Muslims in those countries.

That Muslims are increasingly settling in Europe, is contributing to the reshaping of European social, cultural and political landscapes and our identities in many ways. It does not mean that European identities and values are being Islamized, eroded or altered inalieniably. Issues of population control are separate to issues of identity and should not be used to demonize Muslims in Europe. Society’s values and identities are not stagnant and rigid. This notion of a de facto singular sense of European identity is rather Cartesian in its concept and has already been debunked. The fact is, we all have many identities and they are always changing. These changes in society, our values, population and our identities are inevitable and increasingly due to the effects of globalization. Whether Muslim or Christian, we all have a right to protect our identities, values and beliefs. No-one has the right to suppress the other, or impose one identity on another. That Europeans perceive European identity as being Islamized is now part of a condition of known as block-thinking, in that the condition of perceived Islamization is paralyzing coexistence between East and West. If any part of Europe is being Islamized, it is largely Muslims who it effects and only affects Europeans if they become reactionary toward the presence of Muslims or wish to convert to Islam themselves. If European identities are in crisis, then it is because of religious abandonment, shifting global power dynamics and the decline of old imperialism. The core issue is not about the erroneous belief in the Islamization of Europe, but flexibly reimagining European identities in a new global context and not allowing the debate of Muslims in Europe to become polarized by inward-looking, religious and cultural agendas insistent on self-preservation. To do so, only serves to further the extremes of European and Muslim fundamentalism and mutual hostility.

Author: Jason Schumann

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