October 13

Two challenges, two questions

  • “The effects of Islam in Europe”

As a growing number of Muslims are living in Europe, the introduction of Islam raises a number of issues and questions. Certain politicians are claiming that the ‘European (Christian) way of life’, is under threat. How can we reverse this weaponisation of religion, to instead focus on the commonalities between Muslim and non-Muslim communities? Even among moderate and liberal Europeans, there is the concern that the more secular ‘European model of society’ will be diluted. Can Europeans open up to Islam, while maintaining their own norms and values? What are the root causes of the sense of alienation that some Muslims feel when entering European society? How can shared identities not associated with religion be used to create a common future?

  • “The effects of Western culture in Muslim societies”

From a Muslim perspective, the increasing interaction between Europe and Islam could lead to an ‘adaptation phenomenon’. Western culture is penetrating Muslim countries and, in some cases, changing their traditions. How can younger generations in Muslim countries maintain their traditions even with the influence of Western culture and the expansion of the digital revolution? Within Europe, there is also the question of how to integrate Muslim populations, while also allowing them to maintain their identities, values, and religious practices. How can Muslims maintain these among their communities and within the context of European cultures and norms? Faced with these realities in Muslim countries and in Europe, Muslims are confronted with few alternatives, mainly: radicalisation, the status quo, and a kind of ‘aggiornamento’, or modernisation. Within both of these sets of questions and issues, how can social media, art, film, technology, music, and other forms of creative expression and popular culture be utilised to overcome differences and create a shared path?