Tariq Ramadan writes in the Guardian about the referendum in which the people of Switzerland voted to ban the building of minarets in their country:
At the very moment Europeans find themselves asking, in a globalising, migratory world, “What are our roots?”, “Who are we?”, “What will our future look like?”, they see around them new citizens, new skin colours, new symbols to which they are unaccustomed.
Over the last two decades Islam has become connected to so many controversial debates – violence, extremism, freedom of speech, gender discrimination, forced marriage, to name a few – it is difficult for ordinary citizens to embrace this new Muslim presence as a positive factor. I agree that some people in Europe are finally asking themselves what values they stand for and what they can accept in their countries from immigrants.
Furthermore, I agree that this introspection is fueled by the kind of controversies that have come with the introduction of large numbers of Muslims into Europe: violence, discrimination, honor killings, forced marriages, opposition to freedom of speech, etc. Now I don’t know if Tariq Ramadan has a sense of humor but I find it to be the understatement of the century to say that the reaction is merely one of confusion or ‘being unaccustomed’. It is not. It is a question of outright opposition.
I have been repeating for years to Muslim people that they have to be positively visible, active and proactive within their respective western societies. (…)They (Muslims and political parties, in Europe as in Switzerland) fail to assert that Islam is by now a Swiss and a European religion and that Muslim citizens are largely “integrated”. (…)We cannot blame the populists alone – it is a wider failure, a lack of courage, a terrible and narrow-minded lack of trust in their new Muslim citizens.
So basically he is asking Europe to just bite it. He knows full well that Islam is seen in terms of human rights abuses and violence, but does not deny it or try to explain it. He is simply stating a fact and offers no positive alternative spin. He only asks that everyone else accepts it as it is. We are here – violence, bigotry and all – we are not going away – so deal with it. He even has the gall to ask for trust. He doesn’t even frame the violence, forced marriages, opposition to freedom of speech, etc. as something negative in itself. Rather, he focuses on the fact that Europeans have this impression as that which is unfortunate – not the acts themselves. No denial, excuse or anything like that. No, no. The real problem is in those people not willing to cede Europe to Islam.
His only call for action or concrete advice is this:
Across Europe, we must stand up to the flame-fanning populists
What about the actual flames from Jihadi attacks, embassy burnings, suicide bombings? That is what the people of Switzerland stood up against- and I applaud them.