Who am I?Where am I?

04 April 2010

Islam and Europe

As I read through the newspaper late last week, I started thinking about two seemingly unrelated articles detailing events in Europe and Islam and how they are somehow related.

The first article I read dealt with the recent passing of a bill in Serbia's Parliament that apologizes for the slaughter of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by the Serbian Army and para-military forces outside of Srebrenica. T
his occurred in 1995 and was the worst war time atrocity committed in Europe since the end World War II. While this apology is undoubtedly welcome, there were two items of note: First, this bill was not passed unanimously. In fact, it barely passed at all, with only 127 out of 250 Parliamentarians supporting it. Second, though this bill was an apology, it did not declare this massacre as a genocide. Thus, the bill fell far short of what the Bosnians (and Pan-Islamic world) want and did little to slake their thirst for justice. Two other facts lead to cynicism concerning this bill: Serbia is in the process of applying for EU membership and several prominent individuals, such as Ratko Mladic, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) are at large and believed to still be in Serbia and believed to be receiving support from Serbian Nationalist organizations.

The other article that caused me to think about Islam in a European context was the recent decision by the Belgian government to ban the niqab and burqa in public. Those who do not receive police permission to wear either garment will be fined. This is akin to asking the police for permission to wear a cross around one's neck and completely infringes upon the rights of Belgian Muslims to freely practice their faith. In fact, this bill was opposed by several Catholic Bishops.

These two issues are seemingly unrelated except that both deal with issues pertaining to Islam in Europe. There is definitely a mixed message emanating from Europe. Though religious freedom and anti-genocide protocols are ensconced in various EU conventions and rights laws, these freedoms and rights seemingly do not extend to Islam and thus make a mockery of these conventions and popinjays out of European Leaders who continually harp about the shortcomings of governments in predominantly Muslim countries.

How can Europe criticize Sudan's president for violating the rights various groups when it is not protecting basic rights of its own citizens? The adage about people living in glass houses throwing stones rings true. This is the type of double standard that has to cease if Europe ever hopes to have influence in the Islamic world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just a short note to remind you that both burka and niqab have an issue with a person's identity, as they cover the whole face, and in the Quran it doesn't mention anywhere that either is mandatory to practice Islam. And talking about Europe some quick random facts: the Netherlands was almost to approve a ban on all forms of coverings that obscured the face, from burkas to crash helmets with visors (it has nothing to do with religion); Turkey has a more strict policy, a ban that even extends to the headscarf, although it is a Muslim country; Denmark allows women to be tv presenters wearing hijab, something that many arab channels refuse, eg.: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7702895.stm
Many schools in Europe and other government official departments forbid the use of any form of religious and/or ideological items like crucifixes, kippahs, Nazi swastika, turbans, etc.
UK police and Ikea are examples of institutions that have adapted their uniforms to accommodate the hijab and the turban. In Denmark there is Halal TV which is
a Danish Muslim TV network, and the same country has a "Miss Hijab" pageant, although a little unconventional way to celebrate the hijab.
And even if you are to be penalized in Europe for wearing the burka or the niqab you might get away with a warning or a fine, I can't advise you to try and wear a flashy crucifix and preach your beliefs in the Middle East, you might face prison, a fine and deportation. And prison in the Middle East is yet another chapter of violation of human rights...