Islamphobia, a new tide
It appears that Islamphobia has now been very much pressing hard the nerves of political leadership in the West European countries and the phenomenon has assumed a new dimension. The action against Muslim communities has gone beyond passing legislations to virtual crack down against them. The new tide has anti-Turkic connotation. Austria will shut down seven mosques and expel 40 imams, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced on Friday. During a news conference with Vice Chancellor Heinz Chrsitian Strache and European Affairs Minister Gernot Blumel, Kurz said the move came as part of crackdown on “political Islam.”
The Austrian Chancellor said that the investigations on several mosques and associations had been conducted and office of Religious Affairs had concluded that the activities of seven mosques were found to be forbidden—one of them belonging to a Turkish Islamic Cultural Associations (ATIB). He said that the Imams would be deported on grounds of being foreign funded. It is pertinent to mention that a few months ago Turkish mosques and religious centers were attacked and burnt in Germany allegedly by the militants’ affiliated Kurdish organization including PKK and PYD. France and the United States are openly supporting these militant organizations.
A few days ago the Danish Parliament passed a law banning full-face Islamic veil. The anti-Muslim legislation was presented by the Center-right government and was backed by Social Democrats and far-right Danish Party. The legislation was supported by 75 lawmakers whereas 30 opposed it. It will take effect from August 1.
The legislation has made wearing “Burqa” or ‘Niqab’ a cognizable offence liable to a fine of 1000 Kroner if wore once. But repeated violations will be fined up to 10000 Kroner. France was the first European country to ban wearing ‘Niqab’ in public places and the law in this regard took effect in 2011. It was totally flabbergasting that the European Court of Human Rights last year upheld a Belgian ban on wearing full-face veil in public
The political leadership in the West European countries has so far remained contented with making legislations that impinge upon the religious rights of Muslims’ communities living there. But the Austrian government has decided to go to the extent of crack down on them merely because of their being practicing Muslims.
In a country like the UK where discriminatory laws against Muslims are not on the Statue Book, even there a far-right group distributed a letter in April urging the Christians to observe a “Hate Muslims Day.”Although different communities strongly reacted against it yet there were incident of stabbing in which a Muslim woman was killed. But the fatal punching of a teenage Egyptian girl Mariam Moustafa by a group of racist English girls at an stone throw distance from a busy shopping Mall in Nottingham points to the emerging dangerous trend of violence and hate against Muslims.
The new tide against Muslims in the form of closure of Mosques and deportation of Imams in the West European countries has a linkage with the growing influence of Turkey in the Balkan Muslim states like Albania and Kosovo, European countries with big Turkish communities and Turkey’s fast expanding economic cooperation with Christian Bulgaria and Serbia. Close historic, religious and cultural ties make Turkey a natural partner for western Balkan countries with sizeable Muslim population such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo. More surprising for the West European for the Countries is the blossoming trade and political relationship with Serbia, where once anti-Turkish sentiment was widespread. Serbian main highway, part of the artery linking Turkey with Western Europe, illustrates the change. In recent years billboards in Turkish have sprung up advertising hotels and restaurants for weary truck drivers. Signs pointing out the nearest mosque tend to use the Turkish word Mescit rather than the Serbian word Zamija. This reminds the present day political leadership the haunting memories of the grandeur of Ottoman Empire that had large parts of Europe under its rule.
The volume of trade between Turkey and Serbia is growing besides huge investment of Turkish Companies in infrastructure projects. But it is not Turkey’s economic progress in the Balkan states that worries Ankara western allies. They fear Turkey may gain political influence at the expense of Brussels. They are also apprehensive of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan bold, aggressive and assertive foreign policy in the conduct of world affairs. But the European leadership must not forget that anti-Muslim legislations and crack down on Muslim scholars will push back the hitherto tolerant and liberal western society to ‘Draconian Era’ of Church’s Inquisitions.