Though there were some precedents of maintaining Islam within European nations, more than that – there are whole European Muslim nations – such phenomena, as European Muslim Movement, is fallen to last decades of last century.
When we speak about European Muslim Movement, we do not assuming creating branches of Islamic movements from the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent – we assume distributing Islam within native Europeans by the native Europeans and making European Muslims as a unique part of world Islamic society, the Ummah.
At first, we should honor pioneers of this movement and thank them for their fascinating job, started from the humble beginnings . We should mention, that when we criticize their failures or point at their mistakes, we do not consider, that we are not inauspicious or disavowing their deeds. More than that, we sincerely want to continue the development upon their deeds, deeds, started by the pioneers, regardless of any troubles. So, duty of our Muslim generation – and all the next European Muslim generations – is fixing the mistakes of our predecessors, holding on to their advantages.
And there are lots of these advantages. They have created the first Muslim communities and Islamic centers, nurtured the first European Muslim theologists, imams, missioners and leaders. European Muslim families in generations were established. And this is – advantage of our pioneers, and the True Success is only from Allah Almighty, there is no True Power and Grace except Him.
But, nowadays, we should pay our attention, that pioneers of European Muslim Movement had been starting their activity in fundamentally another environment. Let`s see on that on this example:
1. Bipolar global system
The main threat for the Western civilization at that time was communism. Though in post-WWII years Islamic fundamentalism was seen with a worry, especially – after Iranian Revolution of 1979, attitude towards Islam was quite different. Sometimes – for instance, during Afghanistan War – Muslims and Western countries were allies against communism. Obviously, Muslim organizations had many opportunities and freedoms to broadcast their views and to act.
2. Postcolonial multiculturalism
All western countries – both of New or Old World – were colonial Empires in one way or another. Empires declined, but common space was saved and masses of people started to immigrate to their metropolian states. With anticolonialism or postcolonialism, multiculturalism came into being- as a policy of changing homogenous societies into multicultural and multiracial ones. For a long time, this policy was not debated by anyone, except marginals and this policy was stated as inevitable and salutary. This, of course, made a good background for the distribution of Islam in Europe.
3. Turkey as a part of Western World
Except the situations, when Muslims and Westerners were allies in different parts of the world, Turkey became a part of NATO block. When European Union started to develop, Turkey stated, that it wants to join this Union. Turkey was the only country of Western block with Muslim-majority population.
4. The Berlin Wall
Europe was divided on two camps: Western and Eastern. Tolerance to Islam and multiculturalism were common in the West. Meanwhile, Eastern Europe lived on its own and was out of this process.
And what do we have now?
1. Islamism is the main threat, placed Communism
In ten years after the Cold War was won, Islamism was considered as a main ideological threat to the West (sometimes, it is named islamofascism, radical Islam, Islamic fundamentalism etc.). And, though, lots of people know the difference between Islam and the radical movements, other people openly claim that the main problem is Islam as a religion. Even new Cold War with Putin`s Russia haven’t managed to change the situation – because Russia is seen as a geopolitical threat – rather than ideological one, contrary to the USSR. Otherwise, Islam is not a geopolitical threat, but it is seemed like a source of international terrorism and hostile ideology. This made the Islamic organizations look alike leftist movements in the West during McCarthy’s times.
2. Multiculturalism crisis
In post-war Europe far-right politicians and parties were marginalized. But nowadays, they are present in governmental structures or have an influence on mainstream policy, forcing it to become “righter”.
Even Western ruling classes speak about multiculturalism crisis. But, because they don’t want to return to Christianisation or racism, they made Islam as a scapegoat. It is comfortable, because it helps to accumulate people, that historically saw right-wing parties as enemies – Jews, homosexuals, people of non-European races and non-Christian religions. It is easy enough to find the afore mentioned groups of people in groups, which oppose “Islamisation” – for example, English Defense League, PEGIDA, Dutch Freedom Party, Alt-Right movement and others.
Also, religious discursse was changed. Real conservative Christianity –which is against abortation, homosexualism and the other deviations – is common only in ‘’European outskirts’’ countries , like Poland or Hungary. In other countries, it is openly said, that there is a “Judeo-Christian” civilization or “cultural Christianity”. It results being “conservative” gays, “Christian Atheists”, Jewish “Western Guardians” etc. And the main threat is Islam. And Muslims have an opportunity to enter this society, if they break away from Islam, in other words, abandon their religion.
3. Turkey came out of the ‘’ Western Club’’
Almost two decades of Erdogan’s presidency changed both Turkey amd its relationship with the West. At first, Erdogan brought Islam from the curb of Turkish life to the basis of Turkish political and cultural identity. And Turkey couldn`t make a deal with USA or EU about strategic alliance. Contrary, Turkey just recently started drifting from the West towards Russia, China, Iran and African countries. And the West starting to reject the biggest Western Muslim country as a part of it.
4. Berlin Wall destruction and the ‘’Merging of the two worlds’’
Consequence of Berlin Wall destruction was not only Westernization of earlier socialist countries of Europe, but their influence on European political agenda. At first, these countries, being on the other side of the Iron Curtain, had no multiculturalism – and they were culturally homogeneous. Contrary to the Western countries with colonial syndrome, they have an anti colonial one. They had no colonies in Africa or in the Middle East, moreover – they themselves were under German-Austrian and Russian-Communist rule. So, demands (coming from the west) to move some refugees on their territory is not seen as a price which needs to be paid for the crimes of colonialism, but as a direct consequences of the neo-colonialism.
In meantime, voice of the East European lands during parliament votes had changed all political landscape within Germany. Vyshegrad Four Countries became the bearers of the anti-immigration agenda in EU, and Trump`s visit to Poland and Adrian-Baltic-Black See forum, that was held there, was an attempt to create new alternative to Brussels in Europe.
And what had changed to European Muslims?
1. To call to Islam and in such explicit and out-of-out form way, as it was 30-40 years ago, is impossible. New clauses demand new solutions. Honestly, lots of European Muslim leaders understood this and started change their politics.
2. Immigration and Islam are not so much connected, as they were before. Today, a large amount of immigrant descendants in Europe are Islamophobes themselves. Contrary to that, new immigration waves bring new challenges to Muslims who have their roots in Europe – all the more so to native European Muslims. Some European Muslim leaders understand difficulty of such situation, but we don`t see any derivations in European Muslim positioning.
3. European Muslims can`t count on Turkey as their defender anymore, they couldn`t connect their own perspectives -with it or with any other non-European Muslim country. For European Muslims connections with Turkish state are becoming contrproductive, except in Bosnia and Albania, where such connections are viewed as normal historically. Turkish Muslim communities won`t differ from the other immigrant communities. And, thus- it is contrproductive to bother with Turkish political tensions, that could be within the Turkish communities – cause they are not connected with European Muslim agenda.
4.The regions of eastern and southern Europe have tremendous importance to European Muslims, especially speaking about multiculturalism. After “Reconquista” in the Western part of Europe, there are no Muslim nations and the vast majority of Muslims in Western Europe are immigrants. Otherwise, in Eastern Europe there are lot of countries with native Muslim populations: Bosnia, Albania, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Ukraine (Crimean Tatars) and Belarus (European Tatars).
Despite the understanding fact of changing situation around European Muslims, European Muslim leaders don`t understand potential and particularity of this situation – and they don`t use it.
Let`s be fair: pioneers of European Muslim Movement, that started their activity in principally another reality, that changed step by step, were unable to see such dramatic changes, that resulted in our nowadays situation.
But now, we have another reality. Proselyting conditions, connected with multiculturalism, geopolitical situation in the World today are principally different from those 30 or 40 years ago. And, on the other hand, in the Ummah, came a new group of native European Muslims, many of whom live in the Eastern Europe or originate from it. They don`t connect their fate neither with perspectives of immigration, nor with illusive “States-Defenders”. They have to overcome challenges, that pioneers of European Muslim Movement didn’t have to.
That’s why, nowadays we need European Muslim Movement 2.0

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