Islam in Europe or European Islam?

Islam in Europe or European Islam?


Good evening and welcome this is our first of the fall Studies in Islam speaker series and all of you who might perhaps be new to the SI events let me just tell you a bit about what we do as part of our university community connection so we do have an ongoing speaker series Studies in Islam speaker series on a variety of subjects you will find a little yellow sheet we welcome your feedback we also welcome your recommendations for future topics so I hope you will take a moment to let us know what else you would like to see or hear about in this series Besides this particular series we also run an annual multifaith workshop series with the Renison Institute and Ministry and this years series will be focused on the topic of pilgrimage in the three abrahamic faiths you should have a little flyer detailing the dates and topics and sequence as well our first workshop in the multifaith series will be on the 19th from 2-5pm and the format of that workshop is very interactive so you get to participate in creating that conversation as much as the speaker is conversing with you so I hope some of you will consider attending those if you are not on our mailing list please make sure that you put down your address on the registration list outside so that you get to know all about our future events all of our upcoming events are listed on the website so I certainly encourage you to sign up for that our next lecture in the SI speaker series will be on November 19th and the title for that topic is computer based design of Islamic geometric patterns and our speaker will be professor Craig Kaplan from the school of computer science and mathematics here at University of Waterloo so I hope to see at least some of you the topic for tonight is Islam in Europe or European Islam the Muslim struggle for civil rights and belonging in postwar Europe we are very honored to have doctor Guia as our speaker tonight and her talk will explore the social and political history of Muslims in postwar Europe it will analyze key debates and controversies including how Muslims and immigrants have focused attention on questions of citizenship and belonging the division between secular and religious life and the shape and extent of cultural and women’s rights Doctor Guia is a social and political historian of the modern migrant experience in Europe specializing in Muslims in Spain she holds Masters degrees in ethnicity and nationalism and political science from London School of Economics and the University of Andalucia respectively Doctor Guia completed her doctoral studies at the university of York in 2012 and has recently published her book which are available here for sale its called the Muslim Struggle for Civil Rights in Spain Promoting Democracy through Migrant engagement from 1985-2010 This book examine immigrants struggle for civil rights and belonging in Spain after the collapse of Franco’s dictatorship in 1975 her current research project explores religious pluralism and reasonable accommodation of minorities in postwar southern Europe Doctor Guia has taught widely in Canada at the University of Guelph Wilfrid Laurier University and currently teaches at York University and she has also taught in Spain at the Open University of Catalonia Doctor Guia will speak for about 45 minutes and then we have a question and answer period so please join me in welcoming Doctor Guia Thank you that prompted me to get my kind of like timing right so I don’t speak too much thank you Idrisa first I would like to thank Idrisa Pandit I would like to thank the Studies in Islam speaker series Renison University College and the University of Waterloo for having me here tonight it is a pleasure to be here and a pleasure to spend the next 45 an hour and a half with you my title had kind of like secondary motives I wanted to start with the first part and the second part of the title Islam in Europe or European Islam because I think they encompass two ways of looking at the same subject matter but these are two very different ways of looking at it on the first one Islam in Europe it’s suggests that there is a clear distinction between Islam on the one hand and Europe on the other hand so according to this perspective of looking at things Islam is something foreign to Europe not only it’s foreign but also it’s something recent because the images you see in the slide are obviously not recent images they are not part of Europe per say that’s a kind of Europe that is a non-Europe its a Europe that is the other Europe that Christian Europe reacted against according to this perspective Islam remains Islam first and foremost and it does not particularly change even though it is now in Europe in its most extreme understanding of this idea of Islam in Europe lies the misconception that Islam because its something detached from Europe could easily be separated from Europe if enough force or enough will tries to do so so according to the idea of Islam in Europe there is no fusion merely there is some sort of a temporary intersecting or overlapping layers that could easily be detached the counter idea of this is the idea of Euorpean Islam the idea of European Islam is comes almost not exactly from the opposite side but very very close its the idea that Islam belongs to Europe and not only today it has done so since the 1800s since the first umayyad conquest of Islamic Spain Islam and Europe cannot be separated because Islam it was and it is a European religion this idea of European Islam also comes from the understanding that Islam adapts to the various contexts in which it is has expanded to and European Islam is different from other understandings of Islam there is something peculiar to the way European Islam is practiced today and also some people we will see them in a second they even argue that there was something peculiar to Islam the way it was practiced even in the umayyad period so according to this idea of European Islam Europe and Islam cannot be disentangled their unity is already something that is accomplished and so thinking in any other way back to acknowledging that Islam is part an intrinsic part of Europe is a self delusion so the way I would like to approach this today is from the point of view of the European and Islam idea and what I would like to focus is on the second part of my title the Muslim struggle for civil rights and belonging in postwar Europe and how that struggle speaks to the fact that Muslims are already European and also that in the process are becoming even more Europeanized most of my examples today will come from Spain and theres a few reasons for it the most obvious reason is that I wrote a whole book about it so I really want to talk about it I spent a lot of time researching this book and writing it and revising it so it is I would like to share and this is a wonderful opportunity to do so but there are also other reasons for it the other reasons are that I want to talk about the strategies of inclusion that European Muslims are using in postwar Europe and I identified 5 areas citizenship and status religious rights, cultural rights and belonging the idea of Euroislam and the topic of women’s rights and agency in all of those examples there are wonderful case studies theres wonderful evidence that comes from Spain and in one particular point in cultural rights we will see in a second the evidence that comes from Spain is richer and more layered than from other countries so I can make a case for why we should be using Spain as a good case study I also in terms of cultural rights one of the things that Spain has that other European countries don’t have and maybe eastern southeastern countries that were under the ottoman rule do have it but other European countries don’t have it it is a rich and incredible Islamic past that somehow they have to come to terms with and that is why if you notice in the cover of my book I theres a Muslim man with a child waving a Spanish flag waving the flag of Spain as a democratic state but it is somehow a modified flag it’s not the real one the red layer you can see that there are some Islamic design pattern which comes from tiles in the Alhambra Palace in Granada and the idea is that Spanish Muslims are fighting for inclusion or fighting for belonging but their inclusion in the country is going to mean necessarily that the country itself has to change slightly and the change is not that bad its only demanding to incorporate its own Islamic past in order to make the present more welcoming for Muslims also I don’t know if you noticed but there are three people there on a bench looking at this person approaching them with a flag and if you look at their faces one is surprised the next one is suspicious and the third one is hostile and the whole point was that those were kind of like exemplifying the reactions that a lot of ethnic Europeans have when they encounter Muslim activism in Spain so the argument that I would like to put forward today is that Islam and Muslims are already European and staying in the stage of the discussion that whether Islam is European or whether it should be European whether it shouldn’t be European is a very unfruitful discussion the question for me is rather how European are Muslims in Europe how European are European Muslims What’s making them European and what’s stopping them from feeling European what is European anyway? so these are the kind of questions that one can start to wonder once you move from the dichotomy that is set up in some forms of discussion what I would like to suggest with my different areas of strategies of inclusion is that everyday Muslims are being Europeanized more and more they are embracing the social democratic and liberal values and customs of postwar European societies and they are doing so by demanding consistency in their access to the rights of other Europeans enjoy it is the struggle it is the negotiation that Muslim Europeans are forced to undertake it is the negotiation of one’s position in society and also the overcoming of systemic barriers what transforms Muslims from other cultural and political traditions into European Muslims these barriers are also increasing the self awareness that European Muslims have of themselves as a group in ways that perhaps different strategies of welcoming by European societies would not entail so the areas that I have identified as the strategies of inclusion that Muslims are actually using in Europe to create a space for their own is first the fight for citizenship and status then its the fight for religious rights a fight for cultural rights and an engagement in the meaning of what it means to belong then the creation of Euroislam and finally engaging in women’s rights and agency and without further delay let’s go citizenship and status perhaps we are not as used in Canada to the idea that most immigrants that arrive in a country are undocumented we have a different sort of immigration process and even though we have problems of undocumentation in Canada they are not at the level that they are in other countries the US is a good example but also most European countries so Muslims have been in Europe all throughout the modern era but the ways in which they arrived and the status that they held up on arrival have been so diverse that it makes it very difficult to talk about one single group some of them for instance former subjects of British or Dutch colonies they arrived with citizenship others and this is the large bulk of Muslims in postwar Europe they were sponsored by European governments in the postwar period in order to help with reconstruction efforts in the countries they were known at the time as guest workers and they were not supposed to stay they were not supposed to turn into permanent residents but they did and increasingly so in great numbers by the millions so eventually their presence could not be denied all the enticements that European countries were offering them to go back to their countries of origin weren’t working and they were granted permanent status their European born children had sometimes in some countries easy access to citizenship but in others they did not everything kind of changed in 1973 with the event of the old crisis when European countries stopped sponsoring guest workers they stopped welcoming them and they embraced a zero immigration policy after that point most immigrants and refugees lacked status to live and work in Europe so it is since the 1970s when most struggles for status and access to citizenship have occurred we have a famous movement of sampa in France or we have massive regularization so when I say massive I mean hundreds of thousands of people in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece most of the people in need of regularization were from Muslim majority countries so why are Muslims particularly active in the struggles for citizenship and status well one of the reasons is because they are particularly discriminated because of their religion and their cultural background in some European countries and here I would like to show you an example of it this is the 1985 immigration law in Spain it was the first time that the country had to pass an immigration law because until that point Spaniards had been immigrating themselves to Latin America and other European countries so its not until this point when Spain wants to get into NATO when Spain wants to get into the European economic community when it needs to have an immigration law and then the question arises who which immigrants would be welcome in the country how do we select them and here you have part of the answer and part of the answer was that the immigration law quote grants preferential treatment to Ibero-Americans, Portuguese, Filipinos, Andorrans, Equatorial Guineans, Sephardic Jews, and those from the City of Gibraltar these persons are entitled to the consideration because it can be assumed that they have an affinity of culture or identity with Spain end quote this is not just some nice words saying these are the people we welcome and everyone else is not included the fact that they had granted preferential treatment had very strong consequences so for instance a person arrives to Spain if he has preferential treatment could get a five year permit to work and reside in the country without the preferential treatment it was only one year a person with preferential treatment after two years could apply for citizenship a person with no preferential treatment had to wait ten years of direct residency in the country before being able to apply so it is a very clear statement of who is welcome in the country and who isn’t so if we talk about colonialism you would think well Spanish legislators were thinking lets be fair to the people that we colonized in the past by giving them easier access to our country now that we can offer them some work well I guess that could be fine for Ibero-Americans, Filipinos, and Equatorial Guineans but Spain had more colonies than those Spain had colonial territories in Northern Morocco Spain had colonial territories in the western Sahara and somehow those are missing how what could be the reason for it well its not clearly yet but when we keep looking and we look that Sephardic Jews that is like righting a historical wrong those were the Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 those were Spanish Jews that were expelled from Spain in an ethnic cleansing we would call it today and right now they are giving preferential treatment rightly so but wait a second they were not the only ones expelled there were other people that were expelled as well if my memory doesn’t fail me and those were all the more those were the Muslims that remained in Spain after the conquest of the last kingdom of grenada in 1492 people who were promised by the Catholic monarchs that they will be allowed to practice Islam in the country and that promise somehow evaporated they were forced to convert and they lived under constant increasing persecution until in 1609 to 1614 in those years they were completely expelled from the country forced to go North Africa or to the Ottoman territories so what happened to those they are not here so if you put one thing and the other together the only exclusions in this preferential treatment are the people who have cultural and affinity of culture and identity with Spain as much as Filipinos do or as much as Sephardic Jews do but that they are Muslims its not just the religion you could say well its a matter of numbers if you granted the same thing there were way more that were expelled than Sephardic Jews there are a lot of people from western Sahara or northern Morocco that will be willing to go to Spain because they are already half of them there right so that’s the thinking its not a question of numbers because Ibero-Americans people from Latin America they were coming to Spain in greater numbers so if its not a question of numbers and its not a question of consistency it has to be because of religion and Muslims themselves understood this so the first activism against the immigration law were by immigrants in general cause the law as a law was not very good or welcoming but also particularly Muslims in Spain were denouncing this the inconsistency of this the fact that this particular way of looking at them was already making their belonging in the country much more difficult but it doesn’t end there there are difficulties in accessing the citizenship and also difficulties in practicing that citizenship once you’ve had access to it but in the Spanish context the problem is more of an access to citizenship at least for the longest time it was because first you need to access the status and then you eventually after ten years you can access citizenship Muslims in Spain have used a concept a very interesting concept that has not been used in many other countries which is the idea of …..the idea of rootedness and its something that we in Canada also have somehow when an immigrant is in the country and doesn’t have documentation but is working here has a job has rented a house the kids are going to school there is something the person used to be able to do which was a compassionate and humanitarian application to remain in the country on the grounds that the person was already contributing to the country anyway and it would be a hardship for the person the family and the surrounding Canadians around them to unplug that person and remove them to wherever they came from the idea of arraigo is a little bit similar it’s the idea that when somebody has work when somebody has family their kids are going to school when somebody has learned the languages and is integrated enough in a community it would be inefficient not just immoral but at least in terms of inefficient for the whole society to lose that person and their creativity and their hard work so the idea of arraigo started in the north african cities of melia which are Spanish and then from there it moved to the whole country and its still one of the contributions that Muslim activism has done to the way the country and the immigration laws are functioning it’s the only contribution so far in the sense that the laws have not changed immigrants from Muslim dominated countries and from Islamic backgrounds they are not considered to have any sort of cultural affinity with Spain yet but in terms of the access and the practice of citizenship it’s not just that immigrants have to fight for their status and their access to citizenship they also have to fight for the right to vote much more than other people have to do in the country and it’s not again as before it’s not something that is directly intended against them but it just happens in a kind of like convoluted way the right to vote is important because when Muslims in Spain are trying to build mosques and they face opposition from the neighbours and they go to the city hall and the public officials to apply for their help they very seldom get it because a lot of Muslims in Spain do not have the right to vote cause their access to citizenship is so difficult that most of them are not able to exercise political rights in that way so a lot of people that support immigrants are saying well let’s make sure that the most immigrants that have the right to vote the better so that we can create some dynamic and then that eventually leads to social justice well here again being from a Muslim majority country is a handicap because you get three types of different categories depending on whether you have preferential treatment and the right to vote how does that happen well for instance Colombians who are from Ibero-America they have preferential treatment and also they can vote in Spain because there are bilateral agreements between the Spanish government and the Colombian government so that Spanish citizens can vote in Colombia and Colombian citizens can vote in Spain great you can have preferential treatment and not have the right to vote here you would find Filipinos for instance but then you could have non preferential treatment and not have the right to vote well the problem is that the bilateral agreements between Spain and these countries can only happen when these countries are democratic governments and good luck if you want to go to Algeria and establish that kind of agreement or good luck with Syria or good luck with Egypt so there’s no agreements between Spain and any Islamic country that could give their citizens the right to vote in Spain the only way that Muslims in Spain can become can participate and have political rights is to become Spanish which is kind of difficult and then regarding the practice of citizenship we have a wonderful example in France where we had simultaneously both a struggle for status and a struggle for meaningful citizenship in the 1980s there were all these movements of the sampa people undocumented people who were facing deportation violation of labour rights, misery because they could not rent places they couldn’t access legal employment education or health benefits so you had a whole movement of people that were gathering, making hunger strikes, trying to secure status at the same time you had the 1983 march for equality and against racism that march was a different sort of an activism because people marching had full French citizenship citizenship was not the issue any more for them they were the children of guest workers they had the rights but they couldn’t exercise them they felt that there was racial discrimination against them they felt that there was cultural and religious discrimination against them and that’s what they wanted to tackle so we have access to citizenship difficulties but also once you have the citizenship there’s a way of saying well am I as equal a citizen as somebody else with a different background and religion and that question in many European countries is still no the second strategy for inclusion beyond citizenship and a status is the fight for religious rights the fight for religious rights is usually many countries it comes once status and citizenship have been secured to a degree a lot of Muslims do not start thinking about building a mosque or do not start thinking about demanding religious rights until they have been able to secure housing and employment and maybe even education for their kids so there is a kind of like a little bit of a lapse a time lapse between you see the fight for religious rights and the fight for status but sometimes that time lapse is only an illusion because for instance the first the top photographs are from the ____ 1988 in England and of course in England a lot of Muslim British Muslims have arrived with citizenship already so that was not their struggle and this was kind of like the first time that they were collectively making themselves seen making their anger seen and the way they were treated by other Europeans so the fight for religious rights involves the fight for mosques for the ability to pray at the workplace to celebrate islamic holidays and it has been there from the beginning because one of the first mosques the 1926 great mosque in paris was already a kind of like a gift by the French government to the hundred thousand soldiers from the colonies that had helped the French in during world war one so it’s not that the religious rights have not been fought from the beginning but the realities that most Europeans didn’t clue in the fact that there was a need to address the religious rights of Muslims until the two affairs the ___ affair and the head scarf affair became front news in 1988 and 1989 without entering into too much detail because we can always do that later on both events signaled to European societies that European Muslims demanded protection against blasphemy that they wanted to question the way secular and religious spaces were defined for instance in France neither of these two battles European Muslims have made much of a dent in the sense that they have not been able to obtain consistent protection against blasphemy for instance neither in the UK nor in Denmark so some of the protections that are offered to other European religions that are more established are not extended to Muslims and the Denmark Danish 2005 cartoon controversy is a very clear example of this and regarding head scarves and other ostentatious religious symbols they are still prohibited in primary and secondary school in France and on the streets of Belgium and France for instance full veiling is a crime today there’s some scholars and this is kind of like an interesting point _____ for Germany and Anna Planet for Spain that argue that there has been a shift in Muslim activism from socioeconomic labour organizations more in the 60s 70s and 80s towards religious activism in the 90s and 2000s there is plenty of evidence of this and it has nothing to do with 9/11 it started way before as we can see here but 9/11 did trigger a little bit more of this idea that if before a person was Moroccan then after that it was perceived as a Muslim and ______the author of Modern Amsterdam has a very amazing quote of a young dutch Muslim woman who said before 9/11 I was Nora and after 9/11 I became a Muslim so besides the fight or the engagement with what freedom of speech means and how to protect European Muslims from attacks to the religion that some of them are in the name of secularism others are in the name of right to insult as if something was properly European value and besides the right to wear religious symbols by European women theres a third area of contention of growing controversy and this is the area of building mosques mosques by definition they signal permanence they signal to everyone that cares to see that the community is settled enough its big enough its strong enough and well organized to be able to pull the resources together and fund get the permits and see the mosque through and then obviously once its built enjoy it and most of the mosques in Europe have a cultural component as much as a religious component and they act really as community hubs so it signals permanence but it also signals power it signals that the communities are powerful enough to demand dignity for the religion it also signals visibility and that is why this mosque is in Berlin that mosque is in Rome and I don’t have any picture here I just have a picture of this demonstration that says mosque no and that’s from Spain in Spain the whole issue of visibility of mosques is such that the only place where Muslim communities are being allowed to build mosques is in the industrial areas outside of town on the outskirts of town where theres no public transportation to there and where the other members of the town don’t have to see the fact the reality that Muslims are their neighbours the reality that Muslims belong to Spain as much as they do so it is about permanence power visibility and belonging it is a statement that we belong here this is our place as well theres a huge scholar of Islam Jocelyn ___ that argues that France most of the anti mosque arguments and controversies have lost vibrancy and mosques are now part of the French landscape and the creation of new mosques does not entail the same controversy that it had in the 80s and 90s I hope she is right I am not entirely sure yet because in southern Europe both Italy Spain Greece and certainly in some of the old areas that were ottoman controlled there is still a lot of belligerency against allowing mosques to be built in fact theres only three large European cities without a great mosque anyone wants to guess no Madrid has a wonderful one Paris has a huge one since 1926 and more to come Barcelona someone said here they love Barcelona Barcelona does not have a great mosque and not because they haven’t tried theres a whole section in the book say why Barcelona doesn’t have a mosque they’ve been trying since the 1960s hasn’t happened yet Athens doesn’t have a mosque and Ljubljana in Slovenia doesn’t have a mosque a great mosque sorry Budapest does so in the meantime building a mosque requires a lot of fundraising so you have to decide whether the funds are gonna come from within usually they are not enough so then you have to decide who are you gonna ask the funds to are you gonna allow the funds to come from uniquely or exclusively from Saudi Arabia as the Madrid mosque and then they get a say in who the ___ and the line of the mosque is or are you going to wait and be patient and get funding from different countries so that nobody has full control of your mosque as it happened for instance in Granada in Granada it took 20 years before they could finish their mosque in the ____ next to the alumbra but its because the community decided to be very picky about the funding they got so you have to do the fundraising you have to negotiate with neighbours and public officials there’s a lot of skills that are involved in building a mosque and in the process of developing those skills the Muslim community have been turned into active citizens they cannot afford to take their citizenship for granted their citizenship has to be acted upon has to be claimed has to be fought for has to be almost taken by the hand and all in the name of enjoying equal rights and freedoms they are not demanding any special treatment they are just demanding what should be theirs and its not if we move to the third area the cultural rights and a sense of belonging what I would like to do here is I would like to specify a few of the strategies that I have identified of Muslims demanding their cultural rights and explaining how they understand their sense of belonging in the first one it’s a case of enough of my case studies were was the fight of Muslim Melillans for citizenship there were twenty thousand people living in Melia in north Africa which is a Spanish city its a remnant of colonialism but is still part of Spain and the EU and they had no status so when 1985 came and the immigration law was passed the Spanish government said well from one day to the next all of you are foreigners and all of you have to apply for the foreigners permits and the community said wait a second how can you tell us we are foreigners we were born in the city we have been living in the city all of our lives we are not foreigners I mean if we if you press us on the point the real foreigners here are the Spaniards or ethnic Europeans because I mean you weren’t here like sure since 1497 but I mean this is north Africa I mean this is the area where our neighbours our we have more of a history here than you do so the refusal to apply for the permit lead to two years of struggles hunger strikes shut down stores you name it it ended up with the leadership of the Muslim collective imprisoned in Spain accused of sedition and accused of charged with twenty years in prison obviously all the charges finally were disappeared once a political solution was found and the solution was that we’re sorry you are right you should not apply for foreigners permit you have access to Spanish citizenship we should have given it to you from the very beginning but for some reasons that we cannot properly explain we didn’t see it two years ago but in the process it came to be discussed what it meant for those twenty thousand people to be Spanish citizens and one of the leaders that I interviewed he explained to me look we were fighting for Spanish citizenship we deserve it it was our right to get it that didn’t mean that we felt Spanish we actually didn’t feel Spanish how could we feel Spanish if the Spaniards were rejecting us we felt Amazigh the name for Berbers we felt Muslim we felt ____ some of us felt Moroccan some of us felt Melillians from the city and a very few of us felt Spanish but that was not the point the point was sort of a constitutional patriotism _____you give us a citizenship and we will learn to feel Spanish we are gonna be loyal to the constitution we are gonna be loyal to the democratic system it doesn’t matter how we feel about it we want to be part of your constitutional system of rights and freedoms and that is one way of belonging twenty years later those twenty thousand people and their descendants feel more Spanish then ever in fact the president of that city became one of the people that got citizenship in 1987 so the whole political system had changed the political parties had changed there was a whole system of inclusion and diversification in the city and the unintended consequences of the city is now more Spanish then it was twenty years ago when it’s sovereignty was more contested and more people were in favor of Morocco taking over the city another idea another way for another way towards identity or belonging is the proposal of the converse to Islam the converse to Islam are saying we are ______ its not that we reclaim the Islamic past called the ____ we embody it we are the physical representation of it we are Spaniards that convert to Islam in the same way as the _____ populations in the 700s did when the umyads conquered the peninsula Islam is Spanish from the get go and we are just reclaiming our own heritage and other Spaniards that aren’t able to see us or see us as foreign are missing a great part of their own history and their own legacy then you have another strategy of belonging it is for instance the one embodied by _______ she was born in Morocco she immigrated to Catalonia when she was eight a half years and she became a writer she has a book called I am Catalan too and for her who was schooled in Catalan she became completely acculturated and completely assimilated but there is a problem and the problem is that as you’re gonna see in a second she looks very much like an _____ woman and day in and day out she is reminded that she doesn’t belong and the way that she is reminded that she does not belong is by other Catalan speakers to refuse to speak Catalan to her by speaking Spanish to her they are making her into a foreign element they cannot imagine that the person that looks like her can speak Catalan or can feel Catalan then you have a fourth strategy which is the one that Muslims in Valencia which is the area where I come from and this is the area where these pictures are taken from those pictures are from the festival of _____ Christians which is a festival that celebrates the demise of Islamic Spain there’s a theatre celebration and a ethnic Spaniards dress like Moors and Christians they fight each other in mock battles like these are the kind of weapons they use they are loud and obnoxious and eventually the Christians defeat the Moors and force them to convert and then they all have a celebration of brotherhood not many Muslims participate in the festival but surprisingly there’s one that does it’s called ______ and you have him pictured up there he immigrated to town near Valencia thirty years ago and he’s known as ____ George so his name is gone and he doesn’t see anything wrong with the festival in fact he became the president of the festivities surprisingly although he is Palestinian he’s in the company called the Jews so I’m not really sure what’s going on there but the whole thing is kind of like a little bit surprising Muslims in this area they’ve been questioning the festival they’ve questioned the narrative in the festival they’ve questioned the most outrageous rituals and I don’t know if I should tell you a few of them the conversion the ceremony of conversion is one another one is something called the effigy the effigy is called the effigy but popularly is known as Mohamed and it’s it looks like a Moorish man and it comes with the Moorish side of the festival when the Moors lose the fight the head of Mohamed is exploded and then there’s a whole festivity around it in some cases though it’s exploded but then it’s buried there’s a cult ceremony of burial after it obviously Muslims in ____ saying that ritual should end and they’re not the only ones after the second Vatican consul the church itself demanded that the rituals were stopped they were stopped for a few years and then they were resumed the same thing happened to the cartoon controversy 2005 2006 the rituals didn’t happen but today they are happening again the whole point of this is that besides citizenship and status and religious rights Muslims are engaging with the historical narratives of belonging that a country gives itself Muslims are moving from the legal rights to their cultural rights and part of their cultural rights is also have their religion and legacy treated with dignity and now we move into the fourth element which is the whole idea of Islam in Europe when I started this talk about Islam in Europe or European Islam there was there are two sides of this debate one is kind of like European intellectuals most of them non Muslims most of them ethnic Europeans debating about Islam in Europe the other one is about Muslims themselves debating whats the meaning of EuroIslam in the first debate the one about mostly non Muslim ethnic European intellectuals it was sparked by the assassination of Theo Van Gogh who was director a documentary director a tv broadcaster by a Muslim Dutch in 2004 after his assassination the person that killed him Mohamed _____ he also threatened to kill Ayaan Hirsi Ali cause they had done a documentary together a Somali Dutch politician and writer and then you have Ian Buruma who wrote a book about Theo van Gogh explaining the whole context of the assassination and going beyond the idea that Muslims are dangerous the radicalization of European youth Muslim youth is a threat for European societies he was moving away beyond that trying to offer contexts of how the Netherlands had incorporated or failed to incorporate Muslims in the country and then you have Timothy Garton Ash who sided with Ian Buruma and Pascal Bruckner a French intellectual who sided with Ayaan Hirsi Ali so how do this two sides of debate play well this side says that in order to be Europeans Muslims have to abandon Islam and embrace secularism and the fruits of alignment at most some of them argue that Islam if its totally a private affair that it could be tolerated but real liberation for Muslims in Europe would only come once they’ve abandoned the tenants of their religion Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls it in her book the Cage Virgin quote let us have Voltaire end quote the other side thinks that these guys are _____ fundamentalist they are taking the good ideas of the alignment but they are so uncompromising about it they are willing to impose them in every single circumstance without any kind of refinement that that makes them into alignment fundamentalists this side that thinks that the other side is any better and calls them arm chair intellectuals appeasers and look at the word appeasers by calling them appeasers they are equating them with Chamberlain and the Brits when they were appeasing Hitler in World War 2 before World War 2 so what they are telling them is that you are appeasing Islam in Europe Islam is fundamentalism in Europe and cannot be appeased can only be fought against so they call them arm chair intellectuals appeasers naive and willing to defend and protect and celebrate the values of Europe and protect the people that are the real heroes here the real heroes here are Ayaan Hirsi Alis of the world people that come from Islamic background and through a process of conversion they came out the other way as atheists an alignment fundamentalist the other side says wait a second if you require Muslims to abandon Islam to be European then they will not be Europeans so what we need we need to rethink our values we need to find ways to accommodate the new religious demands of Muslims in Europe this has a parallel kind of like counter way of defining Euro Islam from with in the Muslim community itself these people are Tariq Ramadan on the left and Bassam Tibi on the right both of them are very well known Muslim scholars in Europe Bassam Tibi claims that he invented Euro Islam but Tariq Ramadan is probably the most well known and accepted representative of it they are quite different in the sense that Bassam Tibi would be kind of like even though he is a practicing Muslim he sides with the idea of Pascal Brugner and others in the sense that values secularism he values the fruits of the alignment and he thinks that Islam have to be reformed in order to be fully Euro Islam he also thinks that Muslims have to abandon their proselytizing efforts their missionary efforts in Europe and they have to accept the privatization of their religion Tariq Ramadan disagrees for Tariq Ramadan he says that what Muslims have to abandon is not their Islamic attachment and practices they have to review their cultural practices which can be left behind and incorporate and embrace European cultures without giving the religious religion in the process so for Tariq Ramadan the only justification for Muslims to be in Europe is to think of Europe as a place of testimony to think of Europe as a place where Muslims can fully be Muslim by showing kind of like their values and encouraging other Europeans to see their way the debate is open it hasn’t closed yet and it is not clear how EuroIslam is perceived from other parts of the Islamic world most of the time it’s dismissal like this is really not important but from the European point of view whoever here has more of a say it’s probably going to determine how Europeans themselves negotiate their religion and their position in Europe my final point is that while scholars and intellectuals are trying to define and understand the meaning of Euro Islam European Muslims in particular European Muslim women are way ahead of them because they are doing it in practice and here I would like to mention a few of the possibilities that they are using you can see that women are going against the stereotypes and accepted gender roles within their own communities and they are participating in beauty pageant contests or they are becoming teen boxing champions and also you have writers this is Najat el Hchmi the woman who wrote I am Catalan too and this is __________ a Somali Italian in origin they are using European languages to write literature and non-fiction to try to make sense for them of what it means to be a European Muslim woman women are being agents in defining and protecting the rights and there’s a beautiful example from Spain when a book was published called Women in Islam and it justified domestic violence on religious grounds and it was a Spanish Muslim women the first one to denounce the book find allies bring the iman to court get him sentenced and force him to go constitutional lessons so he understood what it meant to have women’s rights in Spain I would like to conclude with the words of a Danish writer who died after World War 2 and he said ___________ he said that quote the most fertile cultures come into existence where peoples meet it is not the pure and mixed populations which dominate history but precisely those populations where different peoples different cultures and ideas have fused end quote I believe that the future of Europe lies in how active and effective European Muslim men and women will be in defending their rights and also in how much ethnic Europeans will be able to avoid the lure of xenophobia and nativism but that is my next research project and I am not ready to talk about it yet so I would like to thank you very much and I’m looking forward to your comments wonderful wouldn’t you like to all have her as your professor so why don’t we take a two minute break get some refreshments come back to your seat and then we will have question and answer anybody …..mentioning potentially people…Europe or …..Islam…. it’s like …versus integration because….if you…. could be Muslims in Europe or …..you adjust some of your ….. who you are…. so has this been like a I’ve heard ……. has this been like discussed assimilation versus integration or …. but event they want assimilation has this been at all talked about the main issue here is that whether you call it assimilation or integration or as I called it their inclusion because we can talked about the different levels of how to define those but the main difficulty here is that it’s a one sided process like even when Tariq Ramadan is writing to be European Muslim he is emphasizing that it is Muslims in Europe that have to make themselves into Muslim Europeans and he does mention that this society has to stop seeing them as newcomers as new arrivals as someone in need of that kind of relief that the people that just recently arrived needs he saying that look society has to acknowledge us as fully European and in fact he wants them to use all their European Muslims to be able to help new European Muslims understand what it means to be European Muslim so in that sense he is putting a lot of emphasis on Muslims themselves and I think that is I understand why he does it because that’s his audience that’s who he is speaking to and I understand that if he were to say to the Swiss compatriots even though now he lives in Britain he is from Switzerland if he were to talk to them they wouldn’t listen to him they wouldn’t think that he has the legitimacy to tell Europeans the way they should be that’s why there is two kind of like similar parallel debates but they are not really very well integrated because people like ______ and other intellectuals they almost only hear themselves or only hear other people that they acknowledge as European that they have something to say about where Europe comes from what’s it about and the future of Europe so in that sense for Pascal ____ and Tariq Ramadan is irrelevant and there is a gap there if Europe has to have some sort of cohesion then both Muslims have to be European Muslims probably more in the Tariq Ramadan way but other Europeans have to fully acknowledge them as Europeans without demanding that they abandon their religion in that sense what Tariq Ramadan is arguing is that it’s not it’s sort of an assimilation but I would call it more he is asking for acculturation he is asking for Muslims to learn European languages for Muslims to learn European cultures without stopping their religious practice and their religious rights well the thing with the assimilation it involves that you accept the ways of the land and you become part of that …… would be an example of assimilation she is not a practicing Muslim she thinks in Catalan she eats Catalan and she wants Catalan independence even she is as assimilated as it gets integration and inclusion are sort of different degrees of it when you integrate there’s not the demand that you fully assimilate there’s not a demand that you fully acculturate you integrate at some level so for instance Muslim Melians when they became citizens they didn’t stop their religion they didn’t stop speaking multiple languages they didn’t stop identifying with multiple identities but they were integrated they were legally integrated and they were integrated in a socioeconomic level so in that sense it is that is kind of like a different I usually use inclusion because to include something you almost have to make a hole like you have to change the environment in order for something to be included so you are not integrated into something that is not moving you are including something that is transforming itself at the same time thank you so much for the wonderful talk I wonder…….whose a woman and she seems to be a great …..is it because she is a convert from Islam to I don’t know what that’s one and is there a connection between…..perception …..and this deeply held deep attitude that a good Muslim is someone who ……Islam because the ritual that you refer to the triumph is going …..Christians convert to Muslims and I just want to add one thought to it’s not a question but I come from the Middle East a land that was conquered by Christians and non Christians and to my knowledge not a single festivity celebrates the triumph of Muslims over non Muslims or their conversion ……. is a complex character it’s not that she’s a convert she is a declared atheist she had she read something called the atheist manifesto at one point in her life and she saw the light and she became an atheist she’s belligerent against religions in particular she’s belligerent against Islam in fact I would like her to be more consistently belligerent with all the religions because that would help her be at least consistently enlightened right like I mean the fact that she has particular grudges makes her a poster girl for all the discourses against Islam all the islamophia that is growing in Europe so for the longest time she was she started with left wing parties in the Netherlands then she moved to the liberal parties in the Netherlands and at the end only people like ……. of the peoples party the most extreme islamophobic parties were supporting her views she is perceived as a good Muslim in the sense that she is not a Muslim any longer so certainly for ………. for many intellectuals in Europe for many people who fought against the religious intrusion in their lives so for instance in Spain you know that there was a dictatorship that was very heavily Catholic so you have the whole generation of my parents that they fought against that dictatorship for them Catholicism was not a choice it was an imposition and if you deviated from the Catholic dogma then you were severely punished so for those people that when the transition to democracy happened and they were they think of themselves as freedom fighters they were caving spaces of freedom from the church they were secularizing the country after a period they consider of obscurantism and totalitarian imposition of religion so for those people it doesn’t matter if it’s a church or a mosque they equate religion with intolerance they equate religion with totalitarianism so for those people they oppose mosques as well because they think that any religion any extra help of religion is a move towards it’s a backwards move so the future is secular the past is religious in that sense they embrace ……. they embrace everybody that has abandoned their religion Catholic or Muslim as for your last comment about the festivals these festivals are bizarre they are not only bizarre they are anachronistic they seem to be taken out of the kind of like best dream of Samuel Huntingdon when he was envisioning the clash of civilizations I mean it they really embody that idea it’s not just that you celebrate the demise of Muslims you force them to convert and it’s a humiliating ritual the Muslim captain gives the weapon the turban and all of kind of like the symbols of power puts them down in front of the virgin or the patron saint and converts and obviously the other one of the Mohamed head is even more obnoxious but I mean the question is not that those rituals existed in the past the question is why are they still being celebrated like the country has had 40 years of religious pluralism it’s a democracy it’s supposed to embrace pluralism and the people that celebrate this festival don’t see a conflict with that people they would tell it’s just a party we just like to dress up and then Muslim groups will say well you just like to dress up why don’t we do some culinary battles let’s bring middle eastern food and spanish food and we just make a big feast and see whose food is better well I mean there are many ways of going around it but there’s not an acknowledgment that is a reality denigration and then there’s a refusal to change this is just a tradition our forefathers were doing it why should we change it because people from outside are coming to tell us to change it and then there’s very few voices like me that say wait a second this needs to be changed not because anybody from outside is coming it doesn’t matter it needs to be changed because it doesn’t it’s not democratic it doesn’t embrace pluralism even if in villages that there are no Muslims residing there still the festival should not be celebrated because the festival makes Muslims into others into others that have to be conqured that have to be humiliated and the humiliation is endless I mean the names of the companies are outrageous people dress up like …….. and get drunk and do obnoxious things the whole thing is if it wasn’t real this is bad taste it goes beyond comprehension that it is being done and the problem is that its not being done its that is expanding it is expanding festival every year there are more towns celebrating every year the costumes are more expensive there’s a whole industry around it I tried to explain it in my book like why is it being celebrated still and my answer was like it’s a business it gets a lot of tourism it’s has an element of cohesion for the communities the communities are proud of it and as long as the others or foreign people lobbying against the festival are not strong enough it serves the purpose of community cohesion and also it’s becoming identity issue people in particular in Valencia they are proud of the festival they think the festival goes back to celebrating their Christian roots and in some cases even their Catalan Christian roots so that left wing nationalist have also embraced the festival because it’s a celebration of their Catalanness I don’t want to get into regional nationalism but it in order to explain the reasons there’s a confluence of reasons that explain why the festival is so there’s been very little criticism of it when did it start it started the first time the festival the record is 1600s but not in the way we see today the way we see today it’s a modern festival it’s kind of like the invention of tradition the …….. talks about it’s a mid 18th century all the way till now I just wanted to comment on …… being very anti-religion yet in her book she has a proposal that every Muslim should be converted to Christianity in the name of enlightenment so I find it quite troubling anyways two questions in asking that every Muslim put aside Islam in order to be properly European is this partly the push to every person put aside whatever religious affiliation you may have in order to be properly real or modern or post modern or legitimate or you choose an adjective I wonder okay ethnic Europeans themselves are completely unclear what Europe is about you have some French intellectuals that say Europe means secularism period so it’s not just Islam everybody should stop their religious affiliation religion is backwardness religion is obsurantism religion is opposed to science blah blah so it goes so at least Pascal Bruchner is consistent no religion whatsoever but then Pascal Bruchner doesn’t represent France in France there is a growing lobby of Catholic active Catholic people that are trying for instance to stop gay marriage in Spain the Catholic voice is really strong so in fact it’s so strong that the voices in favour of increased secularism in the country are not making are not succeeding there was a law of religious freedom of 1980 that said that Spain was neutral but that the state had to give assistance to all the religions that were rooted in the country that’s why in Spain Islam has an agreement with the state that allows the practice of Islam and the state has an obligation to guarantee that practice obviously they are not fulfilling that obligation but there is an obligation for the state to help some people in Spain wanted to get rid of that the state should not have any religions the state should be neutral neutral no religious involvement whatsoever and they are not making head because most Spaniards don’t want that so ethnic Europeans are not secular that is a myth ethnic Europeans are as divided about what to do with religion as they’ve been in the last 200 years and there is an unclear balance and negotiation between public and secularist between religious and secular spaces it’s a interplay it’s a renegotiation it’s being done everyday there’s no consensus and it has not reached an agreement the balance of forces move in one direction or in another and in that mix in that negotiation is where Muslim immigrants come in and obviously they are tilting the side in favour of more religious spaces and more religious involvement because of their numbers and because of their demands so obviously people that are in favour of secularism are particularly resenting them because they see them as another religious encroachment in spaces that they had already liberated a question here the problem I understand is …… 1920 with regard to secularism this was only…..government establishment and did not hit the French houses and this is what we are missing in Europe their out and the secularism system between the back home and question whether they are Catholic whether they are Lutheran like in Germany and Sweden and Norway and you know when it comes to Greece when it is the Orthodox so the domination of the religion is there Christianity is there are we mixing are we bringing these people to torch with them or what this is a really …..question are we asking are we not coming yes ….people but their is a differentiation immigrants I lived in Paris for many years when I did my university there are 600 areas for Algerian-Morrocan whatever North African …. which is like the Ontario housing they live in very very miserable situations there was nothing done for these people to get them out of where they are and now I see similar here in Canada after 30 years now I see little pockets in those low income areas that is dominated by people from the Middle East or you know from those countries so we’re repeating the same thing but we’re talking about multiculturalism that does not exist so what is the role here to get the human beings who are suffering I am a Catholic I am not saying that I did my studies Arabic and Islamic studies and I found it just a contradiction I’m lost as many as a newcomer to those countries like where do I fit do I have space for me I could be a hard working person I could be an achiever person but who i am and why we are focusing on just a global thing as we still have the holidays as Christmas the holidays is Easter those things do matter are we doing anything in Europe to make it easier because there are …..people I don’t think I can answer to everything you mentioned but the 1905 law in France that separated state and religion it is about the state it’s about freeing the state from religious interference it certainly allows people to be religious in their private sphere and allow them to be religious in their churches and community centres and even them to have private schools that are religious as long as there is no state funding or as long as they do not have an influence on the state that said that idea of …..that separation is very French in Greece you don’t have that you have a state religion in Denmark you still have a state religion in Spain that idea has never existed so it is a problem to equate Europe with France France is almost exceptional in this regard with the rest of Europe consistency that’s the only thing that can save some of these European countries like the consistency that if you treat one religion one way you should be able to allow the other religions to be treated the same way because otherwise it creates kind of like a an unfairness that is not justified in a democratic liberal setting there’s no justification why the Spanish state should collect taxes for the Spanish church and allow them not to pay taxes of all their property tax all over the country

One thought on “Islam in Europe or European Islam?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *