CAIRO – Amid heightening religious tension across Europe, former Italian Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema and Swiss Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan said refugees must learn to embrace European values to defeat ideology of the so-called Islamic State.
“We must all fight this political, cultural and social battle together. Paradoxically, Muslim extremists and European Islamophobes share the same idea that Islam equals violence, the pair wrote in an article published on the Euractiv website, Express reported on Friday, March 4.
“This perception is not only false, but also dangerous. To escape from this unfounded ideology, we need a European Islam, an Islam of European citizens and not an Islam composed of communities influenced by their countries of origin.
“We need an Islam inspired by minds that are open to change and the challenges of the modern era, rejecting a literal reading of the Qur’an and in tune with the new historical context.
“That kind of Islam would make an important contribution to European culture in the 21st century and beyond.”
They added: “It would also be a powerful antidote to the religious fanaticism that exists in all religions and, at the same time, constitute a response to the rigid, ultra-conservative Islam, occasionally proclaimed by some terrorist groups.
“If Muslims share responsibility for the emergence of this European Islam, the EU Member States and their institutions will have to recognize that Islam is a European religion and that its contribution is necessary and important.”
The two leaders urged European Muslims to abandon cultural practices from the Middle East and promote an updated version of their religion to prevent Islamophobia and extremism.
The opinion piece also addressed possible European responses to attempts by ISIL to radicalize European youngsters.
D’Alema and Tariq Ramadan both argue that Islam can no longer ignore the rise of ISIS or deny that it is a problem specifically linked to their religion.
“It would be too simple to say that they have nothing to do with Islam,” they wrote.
“It would be a little like venturing to suggest that Stalinism was not communism.
“From a strictly Islamic and religious point of view, they are Muslims, although their behavior is obviously not consistent with the principles of Islam.
“However, they oblige us morally and intellectually to take a stand on what they do.
“A religious response is needed, but not just a religious response. There is a real problem in regard to education, manipulation, internet indoctrination, drug use and political exploitation of religious matters.”