Islam in a European context

The media informs us that the racism against Muslims in Europe — both native and foreign — lies in their being Muslim. However I refuse to set any store by this superficial diagnosis. The real reason is racial: Europeans do not dark skinned people. It is a coincidence that most of them happen to be Muslim.

Some European politicans, especially from the right, have declared that Islam is foreign to Europe and that Muslim values are diametrically opposed to Western values.

When arguing against Turkish ascension into the EU, Stoiber, the Bavarian premier, stated “Turkey is not European and does not belong in Europe.” What he meant by European is Christian. Historically, Turkey has been part of Europe; perhaps he forgets the much-envied relationship between the Ottoman Empire and the Germany.

And with the divergence of values, an intense and historical animosity between Christian Europe and the Muslim Middle East is taken for granted. But there has been more than hate between these two cultural entities, if we may call them that.

Etched in the European mind are two dates: May 29, 1453 and … but distract from

In principle, the Latins went East to save the Byzantines from the Turkish threat
. The most serene republic, goaded by unbriddled greed, preferred to accrue the papal wrath than to stop trading with the Ottoman Empire. And it was this same greed that allow them to extort exhuberant amounts from their fellow Christians without compunction

What of Byzantium, the putative inheritors of the Roman martial spirit. It was not all tit for tat with the Turks; we must not forget that it was with the help of a Byzantine Emperor that the Turks crossed the Bosphorous and set foot for the first time on the European continent (this is not taking into consideration the fact that there was a Muslim ghetto by this time in the city for Turkish traders, along with a mosque!)

Yet the interaction between the Turks and the Byzantines does not end there. Various Byzantine emperors did not hesitate to prevaricate with various Turkish sultanates to destroy their purported Christian breathren: the Latins.

The recent papal blunder has only helped to demonstrate how little people know of the historically intricate relationship between the two faiths. Then again, as Montaigne says “Ignorance is the common state of man.” It is this ignorance that leads people to believe that it was actually barbarians who caused the fall of Rome; I guess no-one ever mentioned to them that the Emperor’s personal guard was always composed of Germans….

Of course Stoiber is a racist, Europe has never been Christian fully. What of that eternal foreigner — the exiled race of Abraham? Though the Europeans have tried time and time again to extirpate them, they never managed to do so completely.

But all this is historical. The Ottoman Empire exists no more. As Sophocles says: . But there are a number or Muslim nations in Europe. There is Albania and also Bosnia with its large Muslim majority. And the neighboring countries also possess sizeable Muslim communities. Not to mention the possible state of Kosovo. These Muslims have been here for centuries, they did not recently move here in the 1960s as guestworkers as did Turks and Moroccans to Germany and Holland respectively.

Also there is Russia where 20% of the population is purported to be Muslim. Of course these Muslims are fair-skinned, the opposite of those that have reside in Western Europe.


1. On the hijacking of reason by the Catholic Church and her pretentions to enlightment
2. On why Islam is as intolerant and backwards as Christianity and why both must be repressed as much as possible.