Second part of interview with Haroun Sidorov, CEO of I4E. Firts part of interview is here

Let’s talk specifically about Europe and European Muslims. You think that Murabitun has shown a very successful example of what the assertion of Islam among Europeans can be. But at the same time, you say that he can not cope with this mission and needs something new. Explain your idea, please.

Murabitun as the movement of a charismatic leader, visionary, intellectual Sheikh Abdulkadir al-Sufi, was one of the best Islamic projects born among European Muslims. But the strength and weakness of Murabitun was that it was not a formalized movement like the Muslim Brotherhood or Hizb ut-Tahrir. So long as this environment set in motion the personality of the sheikh, it did not need any institutions and formalization, so strong was this energy. But when the sheikh began to move away from affairs, it became clear that his successors could not do it. It was necessary either to create a single leadership for the entire movement with a unified development strategy, or what happened happened – the movement turned into an informal environment in which different communities and groups can exist. If you take the Spanish community, it is almost an ideal embodiment of both the ideas of Murabitun, and of what the European Muslim community should be like. However, self-sufficiency is not only a strong side of the Spanish community, but also limits their activities – they are focused on themselves, which is probably right, and do not show special interest in the development of the space of all European Islam. This mission was undertaken by the European Muslim Union and the team of its leader Abu Bakr Rieger, but clearly they did not cope with it.

What do you think are their problems?

Speaking of the EMU, today it is merely a Muslim parody of the European Union’s Euro-bureaucracy, when the elaboration and implementation of the development strategy of Europe is replaced by constant meaningless meetings, summits, etc. But if the European Commission is even established and some programs are funded in different European countries, then practically all EMU activities were reduced to regular summits several times a year, although recently they have not even heard of them.

Further, it is inconsistent in the matters of European Muslim identity. Trust in the magical transforming power of language as a factor which alone is able to produce European identity is simply naive. It is obvious that under conditions of multiculturalism, language is nothing more than an umbrella for different asabiyas with their own identities.

The last point, as I understand it, is what distinguishes the project “Islam for Europeans” from the EMU? Are they thus your competitors?

No, we do not view the EMU as our competitor, because we basically look for different niches. To begin with, unlike EMU, we are currently not an organization, and even if in sha Allah one arises from our base, it will look fundamentally different.

EMU has ambitions to embrace the communities of Muslims of Europe on a geographical basis, which consider themselves as part of it. We are not against this, we are not attempting to establish a rivaly or generate friction, and we wish them every success in their efforts. But our primary focus is to look after Muslims from the indigenous Europeans and we are interested in the spread of Islam (Dawah) among the indigenous European population, not to organize the so-called “new European Muslims”. This is something that EMU is afraid to proclaim even though, for example, the Spanish community practically implements this particular model. But the Spaniards have objective reasons for this, and in many other EMU and European ex-Murabitun communities the emphasis has shifted to the other side and is already being oriented towards “new Europeans”. As a result, the cause of calling Native Europeans to Islam and the development of communities of indigenous European Muslims is consigned to oblivion, and, worst of all, this is done deliberately.

But if these Muslims – “new Europeans” live amongst their native brothers and sisters then surely they must be engaged and integrated. In addition, there are marriages between Muslims – indigenous Europeans and “new Europeans”. It is unlikely that in such a situation it is possible to completely separate one from the other.

Of course, the strategic task of Islamic forces in this or that area is to interact with all segments of the Islamic ummah. And there is no problem in interacting with Muslims – Pakistanis like with Pakistanis, Turks as Turks or Moroccans as Moroccans. Of course, this must be done, and no Muslim will object to the existence of such a relationship. The problem arises when instead of building the relations of their communities with such communities, Muslims – the indigenous Europeans take on the mission of turning their representatives into “new Europeans” and for this they renounce their identity as indigenous Europeans and the mission of spreading Islam among their people. After all, whatever the “new Europeans” are (Turks, Pakistanis or Moroccans, etc) they still will not give up their identity, even if it is merely culturally mutated. Indigenous Europeans are starting to deceive themselves that these so called new Englishmen, the new French or the new Germans are just like them, that there is no (ethnic or cultural) difference between them and that to see this difference is nationalism or racism. Of course, this is a mistake from many points of view, and it leads to the fact that the essence of the mission of inviting Europeans to Islam is lost, which instead is proposed to accept Islam in a package with the rejection of its identity, while the “new Europeans” retain their identities. As for the problem of mixed marriages, it is generated solely by this unnatural policy of the melting pot. Under traditional relations between communities, it does not exist, because nationality usually is maintained along the male line and a woman who marries a representative of another nation actually enters his people. Especially when this woman is an immigrant, and a man is a representative of the indigenous people. But, of course, when instead of embracing this you are deliberately denying the very concept of indigenous Europeans, mixed marriages will play a part in their deliberate deconstruction.

You have already highlighted the Spanish community more than once. What, in your opinion, is its uniqueness?

I think their uniqueness is determined by their multiplicity, moreover, the number of indigenous Spanish Muslims and already in several generations, as a result of which non-European immigrants do not determine the face of the community. Further, this is the presence of their full-fledged mosque as the center of community activity, the availability of their school, their market. That is, it is an ideal community of European Muslims, as it might look. I believe that the reason for this success is that this is one of the first communities created personally by Sheikh Abdulkadir al-Sufi, who spent many years in it and gave her a lot of his energy at the peak of his activity.

What are the plans in store for the future of the project “Islam for Europeans”?

First of all, we are now creating an assembly point for like-minded people. The launch of our project and the reaction to it showed that many European Muslims, both in the old and new world, thought and felt what we proclaimed openly, but since they lacked a public forum, they were afraid to talk about it and were afraid to look for their own like-minded people.

The organizations and campaigns of black Muslims or Latin American Muslims have long been in the order of things, not to mention the existence of immigrant diasporas of Muslim peoples. And European Muslims have been the only ones left out, afraid to talk about their specificneeds, their identity, building their community. They are largely themselves to blame for this, because it is actually to a large degree the African-Americans and immigrants who perceive and affirm the Native Europeans as having a distinct cultural and ethnic identity. However, instead of being themselves and calling on their fellow countrymen to Islam, European Muslims are trying to become a glue for the racial melting pot of Western Islam.

We openly speak and write about it, criticize this dead-end line of behavior and call on European Muslims not to be afraid of being themselves and building their identity, like our African, Asian and other co-belivers do. This does not mean separatism – all these communities are part of a single Ummah, but if there is no movement that works strategically with all of them as we would like, we should at least take care of our community to effectively solve the problem for the Ummah in its direction.

Therefore, at this stage, our goal is to find supporters and like-minded people and to strengthen them in their commitment to this cause. We hope that over time this activity will in sha Allah go beyond the information space, and the native European Muslims will begin to meet and hold their events and campaigns in the real world of this dunya. We are calling on everyone who is interested in this.

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