First European Islamic Charter to Back Tolerance, Fight Violence Kicks off
|Monday, January 14,2008 23:42|
|By Mohamed Ismail|
More than 400 Islamic organizations from all over Europe issued in a conference held in the Belgian capital Brussels on Thursday a unified charter aiming to bolster values of tolerance and assimilation into the European society.
The 21-points European Islamic charter underlined moderation, equality between men and women and rejecting violence and terrorism and urges Muslims to "get positively assimilated into the society.
The charter whose approval is considered a precedent in the Islamic presence in Europe, stressed on avoiding any confusion or mix-up between aspects of political violence which have emerged in several societies and between the tolerant Islamic creed and called for separating between the phenomenon of terrorism which is fully rejected by Muslims and the legitimate national struggle of peoples .
It also asked "European Muslims to positively get assimilated into their societies and to strike a balance between their Islamic identity and their duties as citizens".
The document calls on Muslims to effectively take part in the general political life in their countries and to practice their right in voting and working in an aura of respect religious multiplicity.
The initiative of laying down a charter for Muslims started in Europe in 2000 with a support from the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE) to unify Muslims in a continent where Islam turned from a religion of immigrants into a religion of citizens who may live in this continent forever.
The Brussels-based Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe said that more than 400 Muslim groups from 28 countries from Russia to Spain signed the charter. "The signatories account for a quarter or a fifth of the 15 million Muslims in Europe who account for more than 5 % of the total population of Europe", the FIOE spokesman said.
"This initiative aims to clarify a main and common attitude regarding Islam in Europe, particularly the Islamic contribution in modern Europe", said the FIOE in a statement.
It added in the statement that the charter aims also to promote the Muslims" active participation in the society and to give a better profile of their citizenship on the basis of "justice, equality in rights and respecting the other" .
FIOE president Shakib Benmakhluf told Ikhwanweb that he is happy about issuing the charter, and said:" We are proud of this unique and virgin initiative that assigns the European Muslim community with building a common Europe and a unified society in which every citizen can live in peace and be open to others, a society in which the one carries out his duties and his rights are respected " .
The conference organizers said: "The groups that signed on the charter are mainly Sunni more than the Shiite doctrine and other sects which are less prevalent in Europe".
For his part, European Parliament vice-president Mario Mauro welcomed the charter saying: it " can secure a basis for a better and wider dialogue between the Muslim society and the political world in Europe" .
Baron Ledfourd, a member of the European Parliament for the British democratic Liberal Party said during the meeting that she "wholeheartedly welcomes" the initiative, but she said : There more time to discuss the charter"s focus on the importance of the family and that freedom should be exercised " in line with moral values".
The European Commission also welcomed the charter and said that it is open to dialogue with all religious groups that want to discuss the European values .
Regarding the criticisms against the charter, Ayman Ali, the FIOE"s Secretary-General told Ikhwanweb that any discussion around the document helps in developing it.
He also added that this charter specifies the Muslims relations in Europe both regarding their internal relations and their relation with the governments of the countries in which they are living and how far can Muslims contribute to the European reality. He also pointed out that one of the most important targets of this document is to clarify the image of Islam which has been distorted starting from the Crusades till 911 attacks.
Alsi confirmed that this document tried to show the moderate image of Islam upon which most Muslims in Europe can close ranks under other rightist and leftist perspectives. He pointed out also that the document does not represent all Muslims in Europe but they tried to do so through the 400 organizations that signed on this document in which they underscore sticking to their identity and their commitment to the principle that Muslims in Europe are an integral part of the European life.
Ali pointed out also that " The second and third generations of European Muslims, mostly youth, took care for this document. These young men are the ones who grew up and were brought up in Europe. Their homelands are in Europe and they belong to the European civilization.