Today I spoke at the Call to Europe conference organised by FEPS here in Brussels. I am pasting here a few passages from the speech, the full text is here.
The idea of a clash between Islam and “the West” – a word in which everything is put together and confused – has misled our policies and our narratives. Islam holds a place in our Western societies. Islam belongs in Europe. It holds a place in Europe’s history, in our culture, in our food and – what matters most – in Europe’s present and future. (…)
Some people are now trying to convince us that a Muslim cannot be a good European citizen, that more Muslims in Europe will be the end of Europe. These people are not just mistaken about Muslims: these people are mistaken about Europe, they have no clue what Europe and the European identity are. (…)
The so-called Islamic State is putting forward an unprecedented attempt to pervert Islam for justifying a wicked political and strategic project. … Daʼesh is Islam’s worst enemy in today’s world. Its victims are first and foremost Muslim people. Islam is a victim itself. (…)
I am not afraid to say that political Islam should be part of the picture. Religion plays a role in politics – not always for good, not always for bad. Religion can be part of the process. What makes the difference is whether the process is democratic or not. (…)
Maybe we should also take time to brush up on the “acquis” with some Member States. We have a problem of internal coherence. … We have supported the “bring back our girls” campaign for Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. There is such a contradiction between our solidarity when these girls are far away, and our lack of solidarity when they are at our door. This is impossible to sustain. In the coming days and months we need to find solutions not only for the girls in Nigeria, but for their sisters and mothers and daughters who are forced to flee by the very same radicalised movements. (…)
Any attempt to divide the peoples of Europe into “us” and “them” brings us in the wrong direction. The migrants and us. The Muslims and us. The Jews and us, as anti-Semitism has not been defeated at all. The “other” and us. We learnt from our history that we all are someone else’s “other”. The fear of the other can only lead us to new conflicts.