The future of Islam in the European Union

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

It is only by facing reality and properly taking the European Muslim dimension into consideration that a clash of civilisations may be avoided, claim the authors of a study carried out for the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education.

After reviewing the historical background, which led the authors to highlight the diversity of Islam in Europe, the paper points to a number of areas that require attention or specific intervention. 

In particular, the legal integration of Muslims is presented as a priority. Appropriate action should be undertaken to allow Muslim communities to fully integrate themselves into the European model of relations between states and religions, notes the paper.

According to the study, another major challenge that needs to be addressed if Islam is to be “integrated” of Islam in Europe is the constitution of an autonomous intellectual elite, capable of its own intellectual production. Nowadays, European Islam is indeed still affected by the dynamics that exist in the wider Islamic world, despite being carried forward by actors who were born in Europe, note the authors. 

Analysis of the problems raised by the presence of Muslim communities in Europe does not confirm the assumptions that Islam is incompatible with democracy in the secular states, they add. 

The report therefore makes a number of recommendations to be considered in the EU decision making process: 

  • To take the Muslim dimension into consideration in any reflection upon a European identity; 
  • To find an equilibrium between principle of equality with other religions and innovation in the political management of the reality of European Islam; 
  • To avoid reducing the issues that arise concerning European Islam to stock patterns of encounter and dialogue between religions; 
  • It is important to find out what the expectations of the great silent majority of Muslims are; 
  • To promote the development of tolerant and open Islam through activities of elaboration and circulation of ideas; 
  • To promote profound debates which do not hesitate to evoke themes that may make people angry. 

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