European Muslims bid outgoing year farewell with mounting challenges such as recurring charges that link them to terrorism and allegations that they are unable to integrate into western communities.
Organizations, centers and associations that care for Muslims’ affairs are trying to minimize negative effects of such social indiscrimination and stigmatization that put the Muslims in uneasy situations in dealing with peoples of different faiths and cultural background.
Sufian Al-Hajri, chairman of the newly-established European Association for Islamic Centers, said in an interview with Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) as quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) that the European Muslims are currently experiencing difficult times, partly due to mounting popularity of ultra-right political parties and movements in most of the continent countries.
Media in Europe, he says, play a major role in inciting the public against the Muslims and exaggerating their faults, seeking to enrich sentiments of hatred against them.
In a bid to counter this campaign and try limit its effect, the association, headquarters of which was established in Geneva last June, is seeking to assure the (predominantly-Christian) European nations about the Muslims’ peaceful intentions and aspirations, boosting the Islamic centers role in safeguarding the Muslim communities and promoting Islam correctly, said Al-Hajri in the exclusive interview with the Kuwaiti news network.
The association shura council includes eminent figures from Kuwait, namely imam and lecturer of the Grand Mosque and Islamic studies’ professor, Dr. Walid Al-Ali, and Sheikh Abdullah Al-Al Musleh, Secretary-General of the International Commission on Scientific Signs in the Quran. The board also includes leading scholars from other Gulf and Arab countries.
It focuses, he says, in its address to the other Europeans on common noble values, good treatment of others, with emphasis that the Muslims are committed to fulfilling their duties, provided that their rights are guaranteed and are spared maltreatment such as marginalization and isolation.
Call for greater support
Recent influx of waves of Arab Muslims to the continent deepens the concerns for the European Muslims because some media try to link them to distorted and inaccurate concepts about Islam. However, some rational politicians and ordinary citizens view the Muslims positively and these play a role in responding to those who hold grudges against them.
Affirming the Islamic associations’ key role in bridging the gap with the non-Muslims and resolving the Muslims’ issues, Al-Hajri called for greater support for these establishments.
Some of these centers lack libraries, prayer imams and sufficient funds to pay utility bills, in addition to various other problems such as the managers’ inability to draw up work strategies as how to deal with the media or address Muslim youth problems. Financial aid is also needed for mosques and the imams.
Al-Hajri elaborated on his association’s tasks, saying it plans to hold conventions to try to correct the distorted image about Islam, deepen dialogue with the non-Muslims and establish mutual confidence with the others.
Source: Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)