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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
According to a 2004 study, one in ten cab drivers in the UK is a Muslim. And that’s because they find it very hard to get suitable jobs, says Abidi. The situation is particularly bad for the younger generation of Muslims, who have been born and brought up in Europe, and who consider it their home. They face discrimination in society purely because of their names.
Some Europeans believe that Muslims will go back to their country of origin. But for many Muslims, Europe is home, and they are ignorant about their origins. So where will they go?
“The issue is-are we Muslim or European? I think we can say that we are Muslim and European. It’s a melted identity. The identity is not unique,” Abidi tells Kipp. Europeans and their leaders should recognize this, because marginalization of Muslims could be dangerous, he says. Out of despair, individuals might be forced to look for new identities, either religious or ethnic, which might lead to fanaticism.
But while economic integration and a change in the public mindset might take place in the long run, how should European Muslims deal with the current situation?
“For a solution to the problem, we should work on both sides,” says Youssef Ben Elrehiatia, a researcher at the Abu Dhabi based Institute of Contemporary Intellectual Studies. “We [Muslims] should encourage new critical philosophers, thinkers and encourage freedom of expression. We should not depend on what our ancestors laid to us, because we cannot take our present life from persons who died and did not live in this scenario.”
“And secondly, we should cooperate with the wise persons in Europe-there are many thinkers. We should not say that the West is a harmonized entity. They have many diverse people, who believe in dialogue,” says Elrehiatia.
But is that enough?