According to a survey recently revealed by the European Fundamental Rights Agency, 75 percent of Turkish or North African origin feel the are discriminated against too much and too often. Also of note, is that 80% of those surveyed said that they did not go to the police when the were victims of a racist incident, citing that such action is largely “pointless.” These statistics essentially reveal that there are far more crimes based on racism, than reflected in the official statistics, when taking into account those incidents that go unreported. More than 1,000 people living in Brussels and Antwerp were interviewed in the survey.
With TL 3.5 million in support from the European Commission, France-based Turkish sociologist Dr. Nilüfer Göle is beginning the most comprehensive study to date on Islam in Europe. Göle is known for a number of research projects and books on the subject of Islam and Europe, with her most recent book, “Interpenetrations: Europe and Islam,” translated into Turkish last month.
Speaking with the Anatolia news agency, Göle, in Turkey for the Europe-Islam Synthesis Project, said her latest venture was important in representing a broad, unified effort as opposed to a plethora of cooperative projects. Among the subjects she will probe as part of the project is the connection between the religion of Islam and the European public space. Islam is a concept that exists both inside and outside Europe, which gives rise to a number of anachronisms when the topic is raised in European circles, she said. For this reason, her work will attempt not just to “read” Muslims in Europe, but also to “read” the interactions between Europeans and Muslims. Islam at the center of hot debates across Europe
Göle calls Islam the most exciting topic in Europe, with the headscarf playing a major role, having become a topic of public debate in France, Germany, Norway and other European nations. “To understand today’s Islam, [Muslim women] covering [their hair] is a key topic. The headscarf issue sparked two years of lively debate in France, ending in the creation of new legislation. For one, the headscarf issue became a component of European legislation — when this happened, it was written into the public memory, albeit in an anachronistic and contentious manner. But it became a European issue,” she said.
Göle’s work will also have important repercussions on the analysis of the Islam factor in Turkey’s European Union membership process. “Turkey’s [EU] candidacy has moved beyond the constraints of Turkey’s applications to become an issue of Europe’s identification of itself. My focus is on this topic precisely: beyond Turkey’s performance in its candidacy, the question of what kind of an identity Europe will create for itself. The answer to this question is that Europe has begun to make clear its identity through its comportment toward Turkey’s membership. The idea of Turkish membership became a reason for the beginning of introspection for Europe. It sparked it. And here Islam is not a passive factor, it is an active factor,” she said.
Over half of Turks living in Germany feel like unwanted guests. The survey was released ahead of the German Islam Conference on Thursday, March 13, where the thorny topic of integration tops the agenda. Over three quarters of the Turks surveyed, both with and without German passports, said German Chancellor Angel Merkel didn’t adequately represent those in Germany with a Turkish background. The report, based on 400 responses, was published in the Wednesday edition of Die Zeit.
Ninety-two percent said they thought that “Turks in Germany should preserve their own culture,” and nearly as many (89 percent) felt that German society should be more considerate about the customs of Turkish immigrants. Nevertheless, a sweeping majority (83 percent) considered the German language a key to success as an immigrant and two-thirds didn’t regret their decision to come to Germany.
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