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“The number of Muslims in Europe will grow significantly” and “Europe will become more Muslim.” Thus, or similarly, the headlines of most of the media in Germany say that they report on the results of a recent study by the US think-tank Pew Research Center.
An inevitable catastrophe?
The sober headlines sound as if we were preparing ourselves for an inevitable natural catastrophe because of a possible demographic development that would shake European societies. The reports must arouse uneasiness in many ordinary citizens, especially because the media has not been able to critically analyze the unrealistic results of that report.
And as expected, right-wing populists and Islamophobes of all colors who for years have been warning tirelessly about an Islamization of Germany and the West, and the establishment of a “Eurabia”, have not missed the opportunity to see confirmed your fears with the conclusions of the American scientists.
But a more precise look makes things clear quickly: the results of the study are not conducive to making reliable predictions about what demographic development will really be in Western countries. The report starts from extreme scenarios. In addition, other conclusions that seemed valid about the migratory movements of the past decades have proved to be false.
Religious freedom is a fundamental right
Whoever surrenders to the mere rows of data unites, even involuntarily, with the logic of the paranoid pokers and the prophets of the catastrophe. They have no real interest in the integration of migrants in democratic societies. Much more important is the question of how democratic states react to the fact that the number of Muslims in Europe will grow.
First of all, the following should be said: what citizens of a democratic society believe or do not believe in is a purely private matter. The fundamental right to religious freedom not only has a very high value in our libertarian and democratic Constitution. The State, neutral from the confessional point of view, even has an obligation to protect religious freedom, regardless of whether the values of a religion correspond to or even contradict the norms of the majority in society. This does not mean that everything that a religion dictates is law and that it should be practiced in a democratic state of law.
There are no automatons of the Qur’an
The Pew Research Center study leaves little room for doubt that European societies will have to get used to the increased visibility of Muslims in public spaces. And also, that Muslims who are citizens of Europe have the right to practice their beliefs freely and openly, just as believers of other religions, especially Catholic ones, do so.
But this conclusion does not constitute any reason to awaken the ghost of the supposed “Islamization of the West.” Islam does not exist as a static entity or as an immovable unit, and this idea is a nonsense both of Salafists and of Islamophobic movements. they make up a monolithic block, nowhere in the world, and not only their religion determines their behavior, they say with sharpness: they are not “Koran automatons”. In each Islamic country, a different Islam is practiced and propagated.
Muslims are also secularized
For this reason, the attempts of right-wing nationalist forces to present “retarded and afflicted Islam to violence” as a model opposed to an educated and civilized West are condemned to failure.This simple dualism does not do justice to the complex reality. More than 80 percent of Europe’s Muslim citizens have secularized, in the libertarian sense of the word, new figures show that fewer and fewer Muslims in Europe are actively practicing their religion, a discrete retreat from their religion is perceptible , despite the fantasies of world domination that propagate Islamic radicals.
So the figures of Muslims in Europe are not the determining factor. Much more important is that we reconcile with the sense of citizenship in democracy. This implies opening new doors for a true participation of all within the different European societies. And at the same time, defend the achievements of democratic freedom.