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European Muslims’ identity crisis
With French lawmakers pushing for a burqa ban and Switzerland forbidding the construction of minarets, many Muslims in Europe have started questioning their place in society.
January 28, 2010 2:41 by Aarti Nagraj
Abidi believes that the European media depicts Muslims as one homogenous group, leading to the creation of stereotypes. The word ‘Muslim’ is now automatically linked to immigrants, to people who came from the Arab world, he says. Muslims in Europe are perceived as having a certain social behavior; abstaining from alcohol and fasting during Ramadan is somehow perceived as ‘extremism’.
But this image is a skewed one, says Abidi. Around 15 million Muslims live in Europe, and they come from all over the world, from different cultures and backgrounds. And although they have all immigrated to Europe because they want to live there, they face marginalization in everyday life only because of their origins.
“I think that the main issue for Muslims in Europe is that they have to be accepted by Europeans,” Abidi tells Kipp. “The first very important thing for them is that they have to prove that they are citizens of Europe, that they can contribute to build this Europe, and that they can be citizens and heads of academies,” he says. For example, some Muslims in Switzerland even want to be buried there-which is a sign that they belong, that they are a part of the country.
But the task of proving to be European citizens is very difficult for some Muslims, because many are rejected from jobs in high positions purely because of their origins, says Abidi. He cited the example of one his Muslim friends, who is planning to change his name because he wants to enter politics.
Meanwhile those who do hold senior positions do not want to be in the public eye, because they fear they could lose their jobs.