A recent lecture by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon to Muslim community highlights the typical Western mindset regarding Islam and Muslims. While inaugurating a mosque near Paris, Francois Fillon urged France’s Muslims to reject the full face veils as a sectarian caricature of Islam, a week before the parliament debates a law banning burqas and niqabs in public places.
Although many Muslim scholars believe that the full face veil is not obligatory under Islamic teaching, the debate is academic and a non-Muslim cannot be allowed to interpret Islam to his own liking. The French Prime Minister went on to tell Muslims what is “good” in Islam and what is not so “good”.
“The Islam of France, the Islam you practice daily, has nothing to do with this caricature that dims the lights of your faith,” Fillon said.
Fillon defended the plan to ban full veils, saying the government had to defend some ground rules of society. “This minority practice, which flouts the basic rules of living together and scandalises our citizens, amounts to radical behaviour that does not reflect the reality of Islam,” he said.
The problem with Fillon and other western leaders, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is that they want to see all kind of changes in Muslims, but when it comes to their own attitude towards Muslims and Islam, they are not ready to change at all.
Today, western governments are getting eager to introduce laws banning Islamic lifestyle. The Swiss ban on the construction of minarets and the wave of legislations against the veil in France, Belgium, Spain and other European countries are just a few instances of Islamaphobia.
Muslims are trying their best to integrate but still some killjoys in Europe are not keen to accept them as a part of the society. The question is when will these elements be happy with Muslims? And what would it take for Muslim communities to be accepted by them?
Surprisingly, we can find the answer to this question in Al-Quran. Allah (Subhanu Wa Taala) states: “And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor the Christians until you follow their religion. Say: Surely Allah’s (SWT) guidance, that is the (true) guidance. And if you follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to you, you shall have no guardian from Allah (SWT), nor any helper. (QS Al-Baqara/2:120)
So in order to please the spoilsports in Europe, Muslims are required to completely change their lifestyle and follow the European way of living. In other words, they have to lose their identity as followers of Islam. This tantamounts to leaving their religion altogether.
Life is becoming difficult for Muslim communities in Europe. France’s five-million strong Muslim community, the largest in Europe, has felt being increasingly sidelined in the past year as President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government led a public debate over national identity and decided to ban full face veils.
Even Fillon has admitted that there was a growing trend of anti-Muslim feeling in France. He noted that six mosques had been defaced or attacked last year and several Muslim graves vandalised early this year.
“Thirty per cent of all acts of racist violence (last year), mostly threats, were made against Muslims,” he added.
Under such circumstances, how can these European countries claim to be offering the freedom of choice to their citizen? How can they claim to be tolerant and open societies? These are the questions to be answered by the hardliners in Europe who are asking Muslims to make changes in their lifestyle.
In fact, change is required in the attitude of the European governments and hardliners. These countries need to open up and accept Muslims living their as a respectable citizens to ensure their proper integration in society.