Religious and Cultural Intolerance against minority: Muslim in Europe

Religious and Cultural Intolerance against minority groups is very prevalent everywhere in the world to a various extent. Europe would be one among many. As it wants to promote unitary or homogeneity and they try to oppose the differences in any terms cultural, religious, and linguistic or any other differences. As result of such unilateralism policies, the minorities groups have been discriminated in term of practising their religion and cultural backgrounds, but it does not end just as hostile attitudes toward different religious or cultural identities, but it impacts all aspects of their lives from personal to social, economic, and political deprivation. It is obvious that Muslim in Europe is one of these minority groups so they can be also victims of hostile attitude and among the Muslim women are most vulnerable. Growing Muslim population in Europe has increased the level of intolerance more than before which will be highlighted in this paper.


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It has been seen that Europe is opposing multiculturalism and criticizing those countries that have been accepted multiculturalism policy. I would like to start my discussion by Mahajan (2002) argument which says minority cultural groups face pressure from within the group and from outside or larger society in order to get assimilated. Multiculturalist’s response to this issue is privileging the goal of protecting minority culture. It is desirable to create a framework within which minority groups survive and grow that can be a sign of richness of a society. Where in Europe the minority cultural groups not only is not protected, but also discriminated systematically, this discrimination is not only from common people, but government legitimized such intolerance and discriminatory policies by the name of protecting national security.

(Kymlicka, 2007) argues that International Relations is not much comfortable with the idea of cultural difference and consider the state as a unitary actor. If we talk about cultural differences, the level of analysis will be shifted from state to individual and people. So anyhow it is the state responsibility to protect the minority and marginalized groups who intended to be recognized and protected. The state is not neutral and most of the time state protect the interest of the dominant group or promoting homogeneity or unitary and imposing the dominant culture on other minority groups as result, such minority whether linguistic, cultural, religious being deprived socially, culturally, politically and economically or assimilated and forget their cultural heritage. The difference of ideas, language, cultural groups are healthy and urge according to liberal multiculturalism.

Pnnycook, (1983) argues that according to the colonizers’ powers, the colonized people are interior, uncivilized so colonizer is there for spreading civilization and development. Europe is doing the same with minority community such as Muslim and they are trying to prove that they are the most liberal and secularized and the rest are backward and uncivilized. In order make them civilized they should be assimilated and accept western values while being western does not mean being civilized always. Ahmad, (1975) believes that there is a threat of losing religious and cultural identity in case of assimilation of Muslim in Europe and he believes democracy is not exited in reality in Europe it is just a political concept. This hatred and discrimination are deteriorated after 9/11. The Muslim population is growing in Europe due to increase number of Immigrants. According to Messina, (2007) the level of hostility increase after 9/11 but even before that, there was some problem. And there are many anti-immigrant groups and political parties across Western Europe. They think Muslim community as terrorists and extremists who are responsible for security threats and bombing in Europe. After 9/11 number of attacks have been increased in Europe by Islamic state or so-called ISIS and other extremist groups. It is not fair to accuse all Muslims of the acts of those who are used Islam as political tools for their political purpose and legitimize their acts of violence by the name of Islam.

In Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing during World War Two the total number of deaths was hard to estimate, but at least 75,000 killed in the first hours after the bomb was dropped, about 140,000 dead by end of December 1945. The total number of causalities reached around 200,000 by the end of 1950 (Hudson, 2013). Millions of lives lost during the attack or later on because of the chemical effect of such bombings, but Christianity is not being blamed. The causalities were much more than 9/11 attacks and post 9/11 bombing on some of the European countries. So, in the same way, all Muslim should not be blamed for the wrongdoing of few who called themselves Muslim. Instead, Europe could have focused on a situation which leads to such acts of terrors. There is in some way or other way reasons which lead these terrorist groups to retaliate by violence and their terror acts.

If we read the black book of communism 94 million people have been killed under communism name within few decades only and 147 million people have been killed under name of capitalism, but still communism is considered the solution for the mankind and capitalism is the only way of democracy and the true communism never commit such crime same thing in the case of Islam the true Muslim never commit such act (Varma, 2014). This is what Muslim want that they should not be blamed for the act of those who committed such crime as communism or capitalism is not blamed.

Muslims and other minority groups should have the chance to make independent choices in term of practicing their religious and cultural backgrounds unless it don’t hurt others. Wearing or not wearing worshiping or not worshiping should be free. There should not be any kind of pressure, coercion and prejudice from family, community, private citizen or even state institutions (Amnesty International Relation, 2012). Europe will be no longer Europe so it will be Islamic republic in case of inflow of Muslim in Europe. They think if they don’t protect their civilization it will disappear. They think that they can preserve their cultural identity by avoiding spreading Muslim Culture (PVP, Cited in Amnesty International, 2012). This is what might be the perception of European about Muslims as people who cause the disappearance of their civilization and heritages which is indeed a very narrow perception. The immigrant has not gone there for conquering they have gone there out of extreme vulnerabilities from war-torn countries and finally who burned the war fire in their countries that is also power politics game which makes these people skip their countries. No one would like to leave their countries where they belong , have respect, properties, houses and everything where their identity is not a problem for them, where they attached deeply, but certain circumstances make them to leave their land in order to survive or in order to come out of danger. Europe does not appreciate differences in term of religious and cultural identity and there is a fear that Muslim will dominate Europe. For them being Muslim and being European is impossible at the same time, but it can be possible to be a Muslim and respect all democratic and human right values. Europe is clearly violated the human rights and civil rights of mistreating and discriminating Muslim and other marginalized commonalities. As Europe value human right and democracy, but at the same the minority and marginalized groups rights and freedoms is not preserved there is strong contraction between what they say and what they do. There is always fear among minority communities of being mistreated and arrested by police, harassment, hate speech, violent attacks and religious profiling. Conrad, (2016) argues that there are certain countries like France, Germany, UK, Belgium and Netherland which concerned about Muslim population and called for restriction on Muslim Immigrants. They have not been treated as normal citizens and there are different efforts to destroy their religious places such as Masque stopping them from wearing their religious identity. Muslim does not have the equal opportunities in employment, education, public welfares and they are more venerable and unsecured. There are few countries which adopt the multicultural policies which welcomed to immigrant and differences cultural groups to their land like Canada, but even such countries also faced with criticism from the rest of Europe. There are examples where religious rights are being ignored. Switzerland has ban mosques from having minarets and in Catalonia, Spain, Muslims are forced to pray in streets due to lack of prayer hall space and local resistance to build place for worship or Masque (Amnesty Internation, Cited by Bryant, 2012). Such intolerance behavior is against all human rights values and freedom of expression. As like other citizen Muslims also have the right to express and practice their religious or cultural identity, but unfortunately they have faced with the hostile attitude from other communities in Europe. All Muslim are being discriminated, but this discrimination is more obvious in case of women because they are easily recognizable because of carrying religious symbol. During the first half of 2015, the anti-Muslim sentiment increased in France, where the majority are women which include 75 of victims because their visible identity such as headscarf (Feroz, 2016). Headscarf is a debated issue, Non Muslim may think of it as symbol of oppression and subordination. There are a group of women who wear it due pressure from family or society. The next group wears it because they think headscarf as symbol of their identity and happily chose to wear it (EUMC, 2006). Direct quotation from Amnesty International (2012) report: “General prohibitions on the wearing of full-face veils violate the rights to freedom of religion or belief and of expression of those women who choose to wear it as an expression of their religious, cultural or personal identity or beliefs. Amnesty International therefore urges states not to adopt such legislation, and calls on them to adopt a range of measures to ensure that all women are able to exercise their rights free from coercion, harassment and discrimination. Some women interviewed during this research said they felt discouraged from seeking employment and thus decided either to stay at home or work in sectors where wearing religious and cultural symbols or dress was perceived to be less problematic” There many cases where Muslim men and women are being stopped, arrested, abused, and thrown out of plan, and many other cases, because of wearing beard and Muslim women because of wearing headscarf. There are many incidences which are not reported.


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There are four things which increase the level intolerance against Muslim first, of the huge number of an immigrant in Europe, Second, the security concern. Third, growing population of Muslim, as (Majidi and Sadeghi, 2014) point out that today, the birth rate among European Muslims is three times more the rate of other Europeans.

As Europe passed certain laws and rules which based on that some of the minority cultural groups do not have the right religious and cultural freedom while regional and international law emphasizes on the freedom of belief and freedom of religion. So much prejudice and hostile behaviours against marginalized communities is not the solution but, it deteriorates the situation and creates more hostility and tension in Europe as we can see today. There is a fear of increasing number of immigrant and Muslim population. So Europe considers these as a threat to their national securities and there is fear of Muslim as being the dominant group in Europe. After 9/11 insecurity increased not only in Europe but all around the world so that is why Europe is trying to put pressure on immigrant and Muslim community which never can be a part of the solution it increases the level of tension and mistrust. As result, Europe will be more insecure so unitary or homogeneity is not the solution for the Europe stability and peace. While cooperation among different groups and respecting cultural differences brings the sense of belongingness among all groups so they think themselves responsible for the development of that country. Instead of targeting Muslims the root causes of insecurity should be found and the cultural tolerance should be strengthened.



Zarifa Sabet

Kabul, Afganistan.

She has completed Masters degree in International Relations from South Asian University, New Delhi, India.




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