Paris (AsiaNews) – Imam Hocine Drouiche, Vice-president of the French Conference of Imams and a great friend of AsiaNews, has sent us this speech, which he will present at a meeting in the European Parliament. In it, Drouiche, a scholar of the relationship between Islam and modernity, underlines how Europe is divided with regards Islam and above all the Islamist violence and fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran: the “right” demonizes Islam and as a result pushes it to an even harder extreme; the “left” – for fear of being accused of “xenophobia” – is silent on all the violence, losing an opportunity to help the Muslim world – especially young people – to do away with old Salafist schemes. In this way, he says, Europe and Islam are destined for failure.
From Libya to Yemen, through Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, the Muslim world is shrouded in chaos. The movements deemed moderate fail to propose real solutions that build a credible way forward. Faced with the ravages of jihadism, the violation of religion and culture by Islamists, many Muslim intellectuals or Muslims cannot help but keep silence, even if the task is difficult and dangerous.
There are Islamists who oppose Daesh (the Islamic State). There are also Islamists, including some Salafists, who have engaged in an armed confrontation against the Daesh. But on the front of ideas, a similar confrontation is astonishingly lacking.
This leads to the question why do Muslims not rise up to defend their religion, when today it is used to define criminal and inhumane practices. Why are they unable to say clearly that this is not Islam?
In the absence of reforms and adaptation of Islam to modern times, the explanation is at the intellectual level, where there is no important difference between moderate and extremist. The two are inspired by the same texts. Moderates are obliged to accept extremist views in order not to be accused of apostasy or betrayal of divine right.
The two aim at the return of a dual order, which was supposedly deprived by colonizers. Nation-states, like democracy and equality between men and women, are considered to be passive phenomena, because “the absolute truth” of the Islamic invariable will never change.
All this denies any historical evolution and social or cultural progress.
There is a real refusal to separate religion and violence. Religious freedom, freedom to change one’s religion or to have none are taboo, unacceptable issues in Islam and also in Islam in Europe.
An European Islam or a European Muslim is still distant [from this] because the majority of Muslims still have a mindset of conquest, invasion and Islamization of Europe. It is an imaginary of power and domination, driven by the nostalgia of wanting to reproduce the historical empires of Islam.
The will and application of Sharia is another major problem that brings together all moderate and extremist Islamists and adds to coercion, the collective imagining of the empire, the contempt for the nation-state and the conquest of Europe.
In the absence of a profound reform of Islam and of solid intellectual bases to oppose this religious extremism, young Muslims have the impression that it is Daesh – this intolerant and conflictual Islamism – that represents Islam and not the inconsistent moderates.
At present, in Europe, a Muslim can only be veiled, a Muslim must believe in jihad, and also have an immeasurable hatred for the West.
Europe could be a real hope for reform and modernization of Islam. Unfortunately, we have closed our eyes on the manipulation of fundamentalists in the peripheries (banlieues) of Europe’s cities and in its Islamic institutions.
While the imams and preachers of an enlightened Islam are terrified, the fear of being racist, Islamophobic and contemptuous, silences many European thinkers.
The Muslim world, torn by endless wars, has become a true cultural, social and economic desert that one hopes to ignore when it is on our doorstep. The flow of immigration continues unabated and Muslims from wherever they may come are represented only through the Islamist prism.
Muslim extremists flourish among the Muslims of Europe. And this is good for the extreme right-wing business in Europe.
A lax Europe serves neither Islam or Europe. An extremist European only triggers a new wave of violence and hatred.
Every generation has the right to benefit from its teaching and its progress to discover new horizons beyond the truth lost by the generations that preceded it.
Europe must help European Muslim youth to free themselves from the past and violent interpretations of Islamic texts. This is why there is only one path. Only knowledge and culture can free Muslims from violence and hatred that destroy the image of their religion.
Europe must help the Muslims to free themselves from the tyranny of the Islamists, by refusing to ally itself with them. This will save Muslims and also Europe which, because of the Islamists, risks losing all that it has achieved as well as its universal values, and to the benefit of nationalists and the extremists.
Europe is at a dangerous crossroads caught between extremist Islamists and nationalists. The moderate European right is the only one that could force a sensible end to this crazy will to destroy Europe, especially after the new waves of agricultural-Asian migrants, mostly Muslims.
It is easy, comfortable, pleasant to accuse the West and the rest of humanity for our faults, illnesses and neuroses, and we live quietly without denouncing them at home. We ask to share the status of humanity, but we refuse to admit it as a universal value to our home.
We want the rest of humanity to accept our differences, but we do not accept those of others and other faiths.
And on the other hand, some would consider what has been said so far embarrassing, because it would be deemed playing the game of the Right Wing in the West or being naive. This excuse is used to justify a complicit silence towards the crimes of friends. So it is better not to speak up. No injustice is denounced in one’s own home in order not to help injustice elsewhere. This is a false calculation and an immoral choice.
* President of the Conference of the reformist imams of the Republic; Vice-president of the Conference of Imams of France; Doctor in theology and in Muslim law