Relations between Europe and its Muslim minorities constitute an extensive focus for discussion both within and beyond the Continent. This book reports on the years mainly between 2005 and 2015 and focuses on the exploitation of recent European history when describing relations and the prospects for the nominally 'Christian' majority and Muslim minority. The discourse often references the Jews of Europe as a guiding precedent. The manifold references to the annals of the Jews during the 1930s, the Second World War and the Holocaust, used by both the Muslim minorities and the European 'white' (sic) majority presents an astonishing and instructive perspective. When researching Europe and its Muslim minorities, one is astonished by the alleged discrimination that the topic produces, in particular the expressions embodied in Islamophobia, Europhobia and anti-Semitism. The book focuses on the exemplary European realities surrounding the 'triangular' interactions and relations between the Europeans, Muslims and Jews. Pork soup, also known as 'identity soup', has been used as a protest in France and Belgium against multicultural life in Europe and against the Muslim migrants who allegedly enjoyed government benefits. If the majority on all sides of the triangle were to unite and marginalize the extreme points of the triangle, not by force but by goodwill, reason and patience, then in time the triangle would slowly but surely resolve itself into a circle. The Jews, Christians, Muslims and non-believers of Europe have before them a challenge.
Prejudice, discrimination and even racism are seemingly on the rise in Europe, especially when the topic of European and Muslim migrant relations arises. Many European respondents who show prejudice against immigrants also exhibit generalised negative attitudes towards Muslims and Islam. However, as Christina Boswell finds, the hostility towards immigrants appears to be counter-intuitive, given the extent to which European countries have benefited from immigration. Reciprocity in the sense of the existence and growth of Christian communities in the Middle East and of Muslim migrant communities in Europe does not exist; Christianity is a vanishing sector in the Middle East. Muslim immigration to Europe is portrayed as a threat that dilutes 'Europeanness', European culture, European customs and European languages, turning the continent, the EU and the single European state into a multicultural society. Neither the Europeans nor the Muslim migrants constitute monolithic entities.
Aspects of the ‘triangular’ relations between Europeans, Muslims and Jews
In 2015, the Netherlands seems to be the European country with the toughest restrictions on immigrants. The extremely permissive Dutch society has voiced or adopted some of the harshest declarations and measures against Muslim immigrants. Muslims have been accused of being involved with gangs and the raping of Dutch women, female genital mutilation, attacks on homosexuals, honour killings, etc. Theo van Gogh's focus switched to Islam and Muslims, following a well-known pattern for European skinheads and racists who start out as anti-Semites and move on to targeting and finding fault with Muslims, thus bringing a temporary 'relief' to Jews. Van Gogh caused widespread resentment in the Muslim community by consistently referring to Muslims as geitenneukers. Indeed, as of the early 2000s, Sweden had one of the highest rates of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe, coming third after Germany and Austria.
The memory of the Holocaust is intensively used, often as a theoretical and practical yardstick, by both Muslim migrant minorities and the European 'white' majority. The fate of European Jewry in World War II is highly discernible in the perceptions and mutual relations between Europe and its Muslim migrants. Several European leaders supported David Cameron's views about the detrimental results of cultural fragmentation. Jewish Holocaust survivors have a perfect justification to hate and act violently against the European state because of past atrocities; they do not, insists Finkielkraut. The school curriculum is one battlefield on which differences between Muslim migrants and the European state are brought to the fore. The situation becomes even more complex and predictions about future Jewish-Muslim relations on the continent become more uncertain when Muslim and Arab immigrants are elected to public and leadership positions in European countries.
European opposition, Muslim migrants, impact on Jews
Pork soup has been used as a protest in France and Belgium against multicultural life in Europe and against the Muslim migrants who allegedly enjoyed government benefits, so much so that very little was left for needy Europeans. Some see the pork soup issue in a broader context in which Europeans challenge and defy Islam and the politically correct behaviour that has permitted the admittance of Muslim migrants into Europe. In practice, many Europeans desist from dealing with various aspects of the Jewish presence in Europe. Apparently, Muslims and Jews found common ground to protest against what they perceived as European intolerance. The ban on circumcision includes Muslims and Jews. In October 2015 the Council of Europe rejected the proposed ban on male circumcision. The restrictions directed against Muslim migrants were explained as an extension of the attempt of European 'secular theology' to 'educate' the Christians.
Fiqh al-Aqalliyat (Muslim jurisprudence on minorities); Dina de-Malchuta Dina (the law of the kingdom is the law); Dar al-Islam (abode of Islam); Dar al-Harb (abode of war)
The emergence of modern European and Western philosophies, liberal democracy, modern social achievements and scientific discoveries occurred largely without Muslim contributions. The presence of millions of Muslims amid non-Muslim majorities has forced Muslim theologians to compose the Fiqh al-Aqalliyat, the jurisprudence pertaining to the solution of religious questions and difficulties encountered by minorities. If a Muslim woman is working in education or studying in a non-Muslim country that bans the hijab and risks punishment for wearing it, then her job or studies are more important than wearing the hijab. Thus, when French law prohibited veiled and hijabed women from studying in French universities, the Muslim thinker and theologian Tariq Ramadan permitted them to obey the law of the land (Dina de-malchuta Dina!) and remove the hijab. Immigration from Muslim countries to the Dar al-Harb and to a life of minority status is presently the fate of many millions of Muslims.
Violence, aggression, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic phenomena
Muslims and Jews may be said to share certain basic beliefs and similarities, the most obvious ones being monotheism and various ritual elements. Violent attacks on Jews have many ramifications. Where weapons have been used in such incidents, Jews in many French cities commonly remove their skull-caps when in public; reports repeatedly describe Muslims attacks on French Jews who wear Orthodox garb. In parallel, anti-Israel de-legitimisation has risen sharply in Europe, emanating from the Left and Muslim communities. On the one hand, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, an event clearly external to Europe, arouses anti-Israel and anti-Jewish expressions and provokes European Muslims to take action. On the other hand, the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe is strongly associated with developments within Europe. Muslim educational and cultural anti-Jewish issues in Europe can and do lead to actual violence and terrorism.
The encounter between Muslims and the West has never been easy. The present encounter is proving even more difficult than previous confrontations between Europe and its Muslim migrants and refugees. Many of the issues that have detrimental effects on the European-Muslim encounter do not present themselves in relations between Europe and its Jewish minorities. The irony of Islamophobia is that it makes it easy for Muslim minorities to remain culturally and religiously Muslim, just as state- and church-driven anti-Semitism has done for the Jews of Europe. The forms of anti-Semitism witnessed among European Muslims elicit complex cultural, religious and political explanations. Despite Muslim-inspired terrorism and extremist violence across Europe, Bin-Nun bases his findings and conclusions regarding the influx of migrants on his French experience, and identifies it as a touchstone for Western Europe.