KARACHI: We are Muslims so just get over it, said artist Durriya Kazi while talking about the perception of Islam in Europe and online. “It is extremely important to encourage the integration of Muslim societies in Europe and take measures to ensure that they are accepted.”
While speaking at a seminar on Islam in Europe at the Marriot Hotel on Wednesday, Kazi said that the media had given birth to a deep sense of antagonism between the Muslim and European communities. She added that many social media sites were filled with hateful comments about Muslims. The head of department of Visual Studies at Karachi University has exhibited across Europe over the years.
In an attempt to justify the environment for Muslims in France based on the laws passed against the Hijab in 2011, the director of the Centre for Social Sciences in Karachi, Michel Boivin, said that the French were acting within their legal rights as no one was allowed to practice their religion outside their houses. The 250 people present at the seminar, did not, however, buy his argument and felt that they were being personally attacked.
The former ambassador to the United States, Tariq Fatemi, said that the Muslims were being alienated abroad, partially to score political points. While talking about Islam and communal integration, he said that multi-cultures need not be the opposite of integration.
According to Fatemi, the foundations of the EU were based on freedom and liberation. “The aspirations of the EU do not match the current reactions towards the Muslim communities,” he said. For example, the French president refused to let Muslim candidates join Union parties. This escalated alienation between Europeans and Muslims.
Muslims in Germany
The lack of Muslim representation in Europe was taken up by Pierre Gottschlich, who is an assistant professor at the University of Rostock. He said that only five per cent of the population in Germany was Muslim, including 2,561,000 people from Turkey. “Politically strengthened institutions have been operational in Germany since 1976, including the Milli Gorus [the largest Turkish diaspora organisations in Europe],” he said. “The Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany was formed in 2007 and is looking into matters that concern Muslims.” The professor added that these umbrella organisations, although aimed at representing Muslims, were failing miserably. A public survey of these groups reported horrifying results. According to Gottschlich, only 22 per cent of the Muslims who were questioned in Germany were aware of these institutions and felt that they were being represented.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2011.