Eclectic Grounds

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Posts Tagged ‘muslims

The minaret vote and public symbols of Islam in Europe: a sign of progress?

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Following the Swiss anti-minaret referendum, I quoted Tariq Ramadam who argues that the referendum reflects a rejection of public symbolics of Islam in Europe. The contested symbols, he says, are different in each European country but the mindset behind it is essentially the same.

Nilüfer Göle believes that these symbolic battles mark a new stage in the process of immigration to Europe:

Just like the other silent symbol, the veil, minarets reveal the presence of Muslims both pious and female in public life. This visibility certifies the presence of Muslims in European society and their desire to remain there, demanding freedom of conscience, freedom to practice their religion and also the freedom to dress according to their personal interpretation of their religion. Paradoxically, Islam becomes a political and cultural source for identifying immigrants, their quest for acknowledgment. They in turn manifest their particular citizenship within the European public arena. This visibility marks the end of a stage in the migratory phenomenon, that of integration, as well as experiences and ways of appropriating the public sphere in Europe. It is the difficulty in acknowledging this passage from foreigner to citizen that lies beneath the controversies surrounding Islam.

Might the Swiss minaret rows be seen in a positive light in the end? Is it the last mobilisation of the ignorant and fearful against a changing public sphere; one that accommodates Islam as a component of European civil society? Is it a futile attempt to undo the development of a more inclusive concept of citizenship? Let us hope for it.

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Muslim ‘hate monger’ preaches peace

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There has been considerable controversy about a speech by Khalid Yasin at the Islamic University Rotterdam over the last few days. The Islamic lecturer is a notorious figure who in the past was quoted saying that, according to the Qu’ran, homosexuality was an immorality punishable by death, and also that the US was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and the development of the AIDS virus. Before his speech yesterday, some politicians in the Netherlands demanded from the government to deny Yasin entry into the country.

Quite surprisingly then, his actual message was one of peace and understanding between Muslims and Non-Muslims. He did condemn Geert Wilders and the likes but he also had a message directed at Dutch Muslims.

The NRC Handelsblad quotes this sections from his speech about Muslim youth in the Netherlands:

Yasin, who converted to Islam after being inspired by Malcolm X, expressed criticism for the Dutch Muslim community, which he said is not doing well. No wonder, then, that Dutch people talk about “those Moroccan youths,” according to Yasin. He also criticised pious, fundamentalist Muslims. “Don’t be so full of your own righteousness. Islam is not a religion of hermits.”

He also called for integration efforts and understanding between believers and non-believers:

Indeed, he said, “Western society offered Muslims the best possibilities for development.” He said, paraphrasing John F. Kennedy, “This nation wants to know what one million Dutch Muslims can do for their country.” He also warned Dutch Muslim youth: “Don’t come to me with the nonsense that you won’t obey the kafirs (non-believers).”

This is not to forget Yasin’s previous remarks about homosexuals, but it has to be said that it is quite refreshing to have a Muslim authority speaking so self-critically and with such candour to Muslims. Where are Muslim voices from within Europe who speak in this way? I have met some personally. But either they are not heard in the Muslim community or they are ignored by the media.

Update (2-2-09): The blog ‘Salafi Burnout’ has an interesting discussion on Yasin here, on his alleged scams, his conspiracy theories and on how he is seen by Muslim communities in the US, Australia and Britain.