Welcome and presentation on EuroIslam Project Group and past events
Discussion on what was good or bad about the past events
Thematic discussion about the Islam
New ideas and proposals for the future of EuroIslam project
Welcome and presentation
Discussion on past events
Eye Contact, Ankara 2004 - Good location, because it was in Turkey which is the "bridge" between Western and Islamic countries. For western people it was good to meet Muslims and see them from a different point of view and experience the practical side of Muslim religion. It was different, new experience. There were some fruitful discussions about prejudices from, western people had some ideas about Islam, and the other way round. It was a good start. EuroIslam project good continue of Eye Contact.
Italy 2005 – This was a small meeting, which made it personal, but there were not many Muslims present. It concentrated on the basic knowledge about the Islam.
Iasi, Romania 2005 – This was a bigger event, part of a conference based on human rights. The aims for this event were high and focussed on a deep discussion on the Islam in relation to human rights, but it turned out that people didn´t know so much about the Islam, so there was more basic information needed than planned. There were several different speakers and some good workshops. Unfortunately there was no person from EuroIslam present however.
Summer University, Vienna 2005 – On this SU the participant went to the mosque and talked to an imam, which was very nice. For many people it was the first time to be inside a mosque and so it was a very good experience
Final Conference, Bucharest – This event was supposed to be an accumulation of all the previous events. There was a very nice group of participants. The small minority of strict Muslims from Romania were represented, as well as people from the majority. It was very good to see the differences between these groups. You could see people integrating very well. There were some great lectures, some of the speakers had also been in Ankara. Focuses were on the questions: What is Islam? And what causes the problems with this religion? Unfortunately there were some problems with the local organisation. There were also not so many Muslims present from western countries.
You can never do enough of these events, there is always more to discuss and explore
Question: What will be done with results? Answer: They are discussing now what to do in the future. The project is actually finished, but it might continue in a different form and under a different name. It is important for AEGEE-Europe to continue looking at this topic. They are looking for people with fresh ideas and motivation, there is a need for a different focus.
One of the main problems for EuroIslam was the contact with locals and organisers. There was a lack of communication.
Ideas for events came from both ways, sometimes locals came up with ideas, sometimes the project team would feel that a certain subject needed more exploration, so then they would talk to different locals to look for people who are interested.
Upcoming events are just ideas now.
Islam and Oriental Culture – Spain
Final Team Meeting Brussels
Two week Morocco, Spain, France CST Team
Cultural ... Albania, they originally Christian and Muslim, Officially atheistic
Future Team to take the EuroIslam to a different level
International propaganda against the Islam creates a separation between the Islam and the rest of the world. The media plays a very big role in the problems surrounding this religion.
There is a great lack of knowledge in Western Europe on the Islam. First step should be the provision of more information, EuroIslam can contribute here.
Turkish Muslim minorities are very different from people in Turkey – these groups should be separated in the discussion. Also we should look differently at Muslim immigrants in Western Europe countries as opposed to original Muslim minorities in some Eastern Europe countries.
There is a big difference between the different Islamic countries, even within these countries. There should be fewer generalisations. Also in the projects from EuroIslam we should look at other Islamic countries as well, besides only Turkey. There are different kinds of Islam. Which is dangerous and which is not?
There is also information missing in Islamic countries about Christianity.
We should not only look at the Islam as a religion, but also as a culture. Are the problems coming from the Islam as a religion or does it come from the culture in these countries?
After 9-11 not only did the view on the Islam changed in western Europe, but Islamic countries also started looking critical at themselves, trying to identify themselves.
Terrorists actually have economical reasons for their attacks, but they give religious reasons. This way people see the Islam as being dangerous, it is difficult for people to separate this. The attacks in return, against mosques etc., can be seen as a defence against terrorism. The Islam is sometimes used a as "cover" for people´s actions, saying that it says so in the Koran, or that is a rule of the Islam.
It was said that Christianity has experienced enlightenment, and is more modern and self-critical than the Islam. There is a more rational point of view, not so theological anymore. Others challenge this statement, and question the degree of enlightenment in Christianity. There is also the question whether Europe represents Christianity, atheists or something else as opposed to Islam. Most people consider Western Europe as Christian.
It is also said that Turkey is not so democratic, for putting people´s religion in their passport. This makes it difficult for people to make their own choices and change religion.
New ideas and proposals
Is the Islam an obstacle for Europe, and why would that be?
Meaning of Muslims for European people. How do people look at Muslims, and why? For example: the headscarf in Turkey is just a free choice and has no symbolic meaning, but in western countries they are associated with suppression of women, disintegration etc.
Inform Europeans about the situations in Islamic countries for Christian minorities
How did Europeans think about Muslims before 9-11?
Teach about the theological/theoretical part of the Islam, instead of only the practical (this has also been done in Romania)
Also looking at other religions like Judaism.
Looking at the Jihad, ideas about the ideal Islam
Is there a need for enlightenment in the Islam?
Are the values of west are compatible with eastern values?
Look at the western part of the Islamic problem.
In general: EuroIslam is a very good project, the discussion shows that it still needs a lot of exploration. Immigration and integration will still be hot topics for the coming years. For events from this kind, it is always important to invite people from Western and Islamic countries, to get people to understand and respect each other. It should take place in a city or country where there is an Islamic minority.
Umut B Onat
May 2007: Workshop , AGORA Valetta, Malta.
October 2007: Euro Islam Conference, AEGEE-Istanbul (more info soon)
Winter 2007: Conference on Islamophobia , AEGEE-Baku, Azerbaijan