Islamization of Spain, an Illegitimate Fear
By Loubna Flah
Morocco World News
Casablanca, June 17, 2012
Islamophobic rhetoric has been expressed aloud in recent years, especially after September 11th. Muslims faced a tide of hatred in a series of incidents that occurred around the world. From the “cartoons” depicting the prophet Mohammed, Peace be Upon Him, to the American pastor Terry Jones who tried to rally Americans around a campaign to burn the holy Quran. The portrayal of Islam as a violent political ideology was promoted in Western media sowing the seeds of mistrust between Muslims and the West. Many ascribe this resentment towards Muslims to their large numbers in Western countries such as France, Spain, and Italy, etc.
Many European countries have failed the test of multiculturalism by signaling out Muslims as a separate category to be perceived more as a threat then as piece and parcel of the new face of Europe. It should be of note that the colonial past of some European countries has sealed their fate to North African countries.
In the post independence period, these former colonies and protectorates developed economic and cultural rapports with Western Europe. Consequently, the terms of dialogues with Western powers have been paraphrased.
As a matter of fact, the successive and massive wave of immigration has reshaped the demographics of the old continent. Muslims, in particular, became largely present in the economy and many of them became permanent residents and later fully fledged citizens of European countries.
In Spain, for instance, immigration has resulted in the resurgence in the number of Muslims. The number of Muslims reached one million in the last decade due to these immigration trends, in addition to the conversion to Islam among Spaniards.
The global war on terrorist groups had resulted in misconceptions about Islam, which is originally a peaceful religion. The fundamentalist narrative and the distortion of the concept of “Jihad,” equally by hard-line Islamists and Western media, have sapped all efforts to reveal Islam in its true light.
While multiculturalism has become a common thread of modern societies, some conservative factions in Western countries seem unable to accommodate to such change. Uncomfortable with the ethnic and religious plurality in their countries, they tend to perceive the presence of immigrants as a threatening invasion rather than contributing to cultural diversity.
This uneasiness about the “other” manifested itself lately in the adamant opposition to mosque projects around the world in which the list of arguments behind remains implausible in many instances. In the Spanish city Salt, the debate over a large mosque project galvanized the city residents.
The project’s execution was adjourned by the city council, while someone from the residents, fearing that the Tarik Ibnou Ziad descendant may come to conquer Spain once again, soiled the coliseum ground by leaving the head of a pig, which is an offense to the Muslim community since pork is prohibited in Islam.
In Spain, there is an overt apprehension towards the growing prevalence of Islamic culture. Maria Osuna, Salt city council woman told CBN News, “When the first Muslim political party presents itself, all the Muslims will vote for it, and we’ll all end up wearing headscarves. We’re in a really big problem.” Platform Catalonia is another Spanish political party that took an intransigent stand against uncontrolled immigration. It claims that immigrants have two options either to “blend in,” which entails disposing of their cultural legacy, or to leave the country.
Dissidents’ voices against immigration rose a long time ago across Europe and discriminatory measures against immigrants have been institutionalized. Obviously, the concept of the “monoculture” still has its loyal guardians on the ground. Joseph Angled expressed that “Muslim immigrants are not here to adapt, they are here to conquer.”
Immigrants, especially those coming from eastern countries, are often accused of showing more allegiance to their native culture than to the host culture. They are expected to manifest their loyalty by embracing the prevailing values in the host countries in all aspects of their life.
The process of culture homogenization is doomed to failure, mainly for two reasons. First, it constitutes a flagrant infringement on individual liberty, especially when the legislative institutions issue laws prohibiting immigrants from practicing some aspects of their culture and that pertain mainly to public life. Second, it remains a coercive approach that will show its shortcomings over the short term, bearing in mind that immigrants may comply with some rules but they will not think twice before flouting them inside their communities.
It is noteworthy that xenophobic attitudes towards immigrants become more pronounced in times of economic distress. Spain for instance is flying through economic turbulence. According to the BBC, the economic crisis has left 31% of the workforce unemployed in the southern region of Andalucia, well over the national average. In such times, part of the blame is put on immigrants who are accused of taking job opportunities from the native population despite the fact that immigrants are often also legal citizens granted similar rights by the law. In Spain, Muslim immigrants predominantly form Morocco are the scapegoats for the current economic crisis which heightens considerably Islamophobic feelings among Spanish people.
The fear of Islamization is often the argument brandished by conservatives to curtail individual freedoms of Muslim immigrants in the West. Those who are deeply anchored in the past are still unable to accept that the whole world is heading towards a mosaic of cultures coexisting with each other irrespective of their ethnic and religious differences and equally accountable before the law.
Editing by Benjamin Villanti
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