There is a widespread belief, especially among right-wing politicians in Europe, that Islam is incompatible with Western civilization and has contributed nothing to it. The Dutch politician Geert Wilders captured this perception when he described Islam as a ‘culture of backwardness, of retardedness, of barbarism.’ It is worth our while therefore to investigate whether this assertion is, in fact, correct. If it is not, the basis of the Islamophobia of Islam’s critics like Wilders collapses like a house of cards. They will then have to use some other arguments against Islam or their racial prejudices will stand exposed; they will be naked without benefit of a niqab to cover their modesty.
The impact of Muslims on European culture is deep and extensive. I will use material from my book Journey into Europe to illustrate the assertion over the next few weeks. Perhaps Islam’s greatest contribution was to introduce the idea of a unified understanding of our spiritual universe, which was reflected in the art, architecture, literature, and society in Andalusia based in religious pluralism and acceptance, one that valued learning and the ilm ethos. It is this society that produced an Ibn Firnas, who attempted flight, and religious philosophers like Maimonides and Averroes, who sought to balance reason and faith. Andalusian society, in turn, sowed the seeds for what would become the European Renaissance, which would lead to the Enlightenment and go on to shape our modern world.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY TIMES
ACROSS most of Europe, a majority of people declare some loose attachment to Christianity, while a much smaller percentage actively follow that faith. As a result, churches and their adherents have some influence over European affairs. People expect them to react when the continent is faced with great moral challenges, such as the recent, desperate influx of migrants by sea and land. Ghastly as they have been, the human consequences of that influx would surely have been worse still without the efforts of churches and religious charities to help destitute newcomers. Across Germany, nearly 400 churches have provided shelter for migrants who fear deportation.
But what else should Europe’s Christians do or say? In almost every European country there exist hard-line political movements whose declared aim is to protect the continent’s Christian heritage against alien influences. Religious leaders generally regard these parties as embarrassments or worse.
Even when you move a bit closer to the respectable mainstream, there are as many shades of opinion in European Christianity as there are denominations. That emerged in the glorious diversity of a gathering earlier this week in the Greek city of Thessaloniki, hosted by Dutch and Greek think-tanks (and at which your blogger co-chaired a session), where views ranged from the radical to the traditional. Broadly, their task was to look at Europe’s economic and refugee crisis from a Christian point of view.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ECONOMIST
The tour, involving around 60 imams, will visit the sites of terror attacks by Islamist extremists.
“Our message is clear: Islam cannot be associated with these barbarians and these murders,” who kill in the name of Allah, said Hassen Chalghoumi, the imam of Drancy, France, according to Le Figaro. The initiative is the brainchild of Chalghoumi and Marek Halter, a French-Jewish writer and intellectual.
The tour will land at the site of an attack on a Christmas market last year in Berlin on Monday, before holding a ceremony in Brussels on Tuesday. It is set to stop in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France (visiting the grave of a priest who was stabbed), and a Jewish school that was targeted in Toulouse. It will also pass back through Paris and the Bataclan nightclub, according to the Belgian paper La Libre, wrapping up on July 14 in Nice, where French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to participate in an homage to victims on the anniversary of the truck attack on the Promenade des Anglais.
FULL ARTICLE FROM POLITICO
Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, was criticized online and in person on Thursday for writing in a German newspaper that it was important to secure his nation’s borders from mainly Muslim migrants “to keep Europe Christian.”
“Those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims,”Mr. Orban wrote in a commentary for Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung, a German newspaper. “This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity.”
“Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian?” Mr. Orban asked. “There is no alternative, and we have no option but to defend our borders.”