The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) follows with concern the French ruling party UMP position of creating controversy around Islam in France. The Federation views this as a development that entrenches the exceptional, stereotypical, approach to dealing with a specific constituent of French reality, represented by the Muslims; only serving to provoke suspicion and raise doubts, and in no way does it reinforce mutual understanding within the one society.
In principle, the discussion of any issue, regardless, is welcomed; however, adopting a selective approach in dealing with constituents of society, can only lead to discrimination, and is sufficient to feed the negative stereotypes and preconceived notions that must be combated in those societies founded on unity and diversity.
The lessons of both the past and present inform us that creating controversy around the religion of Islam, in such a way, does not help to foster understanding, but contributes to bias in the media contexts, exacerbates extremism in the political discourse, and generates greater pressure on partners in citizenship—the Muslims, and may well harm equal opportunities in real life for the younger generations among them.
It is regrettable to see, in some European countries, tangible retreat in recent years in both legislative and executive spheres; at times, in the form of exceptional and arbitrary laws targeting Muslims, particularly in dress, education, employment, and places of worship. This trend towards legislating negative discrimination, and inciting public opinion against Muslims or other constituents of society, or even attempting to invent a crisis between the Muslims and the State, representing public order, is deeply worrying.
In addition, provoking such controversy does not take into account the aggravation of racist tendencies against Islam and Muslims, and the extremist views and positions that result, as well as violations that reached the point of desecrating the sanctity of Muslim graves, and physical and verbal abuse directed at persons based on their Muslim belief.
In the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE), we consider it the responsibility of everyone to work at reinforcing mutual understanding in the one society, building on common ground, and dealing with any tendency to exclusion, especially since the positive integration of any constituent of society is not a unilateral effort, rather it is the fruit of a process of mutual interaction. In such circumstances, a dialogue among equals in a healthy atmosphere is indispensable for dealing with the common challenges confronting everyone.
Brussels, 4 April 2011 (30 Rabi’ al-Awwal 1432H)
The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE)