Saturday, March 5, 2016

Outdated Muslim Rhetoric Strengthens the Far Right

By Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran
5 March 2016
Swiss academic and writer Tariq Ramadan discusses relations between Muslims and the West on European TV channels. He tells Muslims what they want to hear, not what they need to know. He holds the West responsible for creating and funding the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Ramadan, grandson of Hassan al-Banna - founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt - says he spends 90 percent of his time responding to Western media outlets that he thinks are unfair to Islam and Muslims. He is not making a difference, but rather solidifying people’s preconceived ideas.
Islamist rhetoric in Europe now addresses a massive number of Syrian refugees who have a different culture and mentality than that of Muslims who have long lived there. This rhetoric contributes to strengthening far-right movements in Europe.
There are figures similar to Ramadan who also use such rhetoric. This highlights the significance of the call by Arab thinkers in France in the 1980s to establish a religious school to bring together imams to debate and work on the different interpretations of Muslim religious heritage via philology, history, anthropology, psychological analysis and comparative studies.
When officials in Britain and Germany talked about classifying an Islamic culture that accommodates the values of this or that country, some people were outraged as they considered this a violation of freedom and an attack against plurality and diversity. However, the opposite is true as such measures limit right-wing attacks against Muslims because they integrate Muslim culture with that of the country of asylum or residence.
The peak of condescending narcissism is to appear on European media outlets and hold European countries responsible for the emergence of ISIS when, for example, data shows that one in five French people sympathize with the racist right-wing movement the National Front.
Muslims do not need to tolerate condemnation, rejection and discrimination. They must follow the successful experiences of other countries, religions and races, especially amid the influx of refugees arriving in Europe. The most important thing they must do is understand and accept European values and freedom of expression.
Some Muslims in Europe isolate themselves from society and refuse to learn the language of the new country they live in. This is the most dangerous way of maintaining identity as it turns Muslim gatherings into fundamentalist and terrorist cells, as happened in Belgium a few months ago. Refugees must abide by laws that help develop their future, integrate them into society and end their sense of isolation.
Far-right movements are growing due to the influx of refugees, the infiltration of extremist organizations, the brutality of terrorist attacks, and the fact that Muslims have not figured out how to deal with their new reality. This has upset relations with the West.
Although he is educated and well-spoken, Ramadan’s statements to European media outlets do not serve Muslims, as they reassure them that it is right to isolate themselves. This serves the far right.
Fahad Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat,, among others.

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