The disparities between American Muslims and European Muslims has been discussed and analyzed thoroughly over the past decade or so. Several causes have been mentioned including the social class of the migrants and the exsisting racial and cultural make up of the respective regions. The debate has heated up especially since the rise of the political right across Europe. But it’s not your typical political right. The SVP of Switzerland, the freedom party, the freedom party of the Netherlands, the Danish Folk Parti and the Swedish Sverigedemokraterna have ironically transformed themselves from fascist social conservatives to the defenders of European liberalism overnight. It’s quite a remarkable transition and although any thinking human could see through the charade they have been quite successful in gaining votes from the traditionally left of centre socially liberal voters of western Europe but I will not go into too much detail over this phenomena now.
Social Conservatives have been in the periphery of most western European nations in the later half of the 20th century while the Unites States has had a quite robust socially and religiously conservative base within a major party. The immigrants who came to Europe in hoards in the past decades have usually been from the working class of Muslim societies which tends to have a very traditional values regarding issues such as abortion, premarital sex, prostitution, and drugs that tend to not really have a voice within liberal societies like the Netherlands, Sweden, or Germany. Speaking as a Muslim brought up in Sweden, I have seen the trend of parents of Muslim to not only retreat to their fundamental moral values but also take a more traditional interpretation of their faith than they would have had in their birth countries. The resurgence of conservatism among immigrant Muslim families is quite a widespread phenomenon that has been very specific to western Europe but has not taken place in north America since those view that many Muslim bring with them already exist within the mainstream of American society.
The concept of religiosity is not foreign and exotic to the American public, and although these recent month has seen an onslaught on anti-Muslim propagation one is often reminded that the breed of hate that is taking place in the United States has mainly been imported from Europe and not as indigenous to the American people.
This integration crisis that has been continually covered here in Europe might be overblown but unfortunately the people who have had the debate sat on the fringes of society and now they are in the mainstream and while many rightly have concerns about a changing society the people in the forefront are blinded by their ignorance and keep dehumanizing people with overtly fascistic rhetoric rather than any constructive criticism. Unfortunately due to the severity of attacks being hurled at each side of the debate any self reflection by anyone seems to be a long away down the road.
Reza Aslan recently wrote an interesting opinion column in the Jewish Daily where he talked about the need for Muslims to learn from past experiences to overcome the recent onslaught of Anti-Muslim propagation in the United States spearheaded by people such as Pamela Geller, Robert spencer, and so-called media organizations like fox news. Here a link to the entire piece but I would like to focus on an excerpt that I found the most important :
“But for that to happen, American Muslims must learn a valuable lesson from the American Jewish experience about how to reframe perception of their religious community. Rather than apologetically trying to strip away the veil of exoticism and otherness that had formed about their faith and culture — as so many Muslim leaders (myself included) are so desperate to do when it comes to Islam — American Jews plunged ahead in becoming business and political leaders themselves. Even more significantly, they took the lead in the arts: literature, music, film. Jewish ideas, Jewish mores and Jewish stories became a deeply ingrained part of the American cultural landscape, refashioning the mainstream. The same right-wing religious groups, which a century ago would likely have joined in the anti-Jewish chorus issuing forth from pulpits across America, now speak proudly of the country’s “Judeo-Christian” foundations.”
this , I believe, is probably the single most important point in combating the incorrect perceptions about the diverse muslim communities in the west. the problem is that most within the muslim culture, especially the middle and upper class, do not seem to value the professions of art and culture. this is prevalent all over the muslim world. if you examine the social norm of an average muslim majority country there is a robustly polarizing pecking order regarding career professions . ironically this culture of cultural neglect is carried over with immigrants who settle in the west. so what one has here is a community clearly lacking a PR foundation to disperse during times of tension.
if you now look at who ends up representing the muslim community on different news or tv shows its usually an old bearded muslim man with a heavy foreign accent who ,while he might have lived in his adopted country for a long period of time non the less does not and can not access or relate to the western mind-set and tends to deter audiences rather than engage.
This being my absolute first post in the blogosphere i would like to start with a statement of intent of what i am about to start here. this blog will be a place where i will give opinions on the latest world event and innovations as well as in topics like music and film. Hopefully what ever followers i accumulate will share my interests and challenge me on my opinions.
Born Sudanese, early childhood in Saudi Arabia, grew up in Sweden and now a self-declared internationalist with no real emotional or political ties, i now commit myself to the virtues of doubt, reason, skepticism, and every now and then a tiny bit of sadomasochism.
Love for music, art, film and the quest of mankind to honestly express its experience and detest for monotonous, closed-minded, and extremist aspects of the human face. that is where I stand.