Stands >2004 Stands >The Stand of Jumada'II 9 1425H / July 27, 2004 A.D.

Arab and Muslim Relations with Europe

Sayyed Fadlullah: We believe that there is a favorable political climate to develop the Arab-European relations, but it needs more contact to explain the various cultural and political issues

Asked in his weekly seminar the following question: How could the relation with Europe be developed in view of Israeli incitement and America pressures?

The Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, said:

One could discuss this issue from the perspective of the historical sensitivities that emerged as a result of the times of colonialism, occupation and mandates while others might claim that the problem is a product of the Islamic presence in Europe and its political and security consequences. But we believe that the development of the Arab Islamic and European relations is an important issue that can be developed. This is so not only because Islam wants to reconcile with the world and seeks to overcome all obstacles that hinder political or religious dialogue, but also because it rejects the notice of clash of civilizations that is promoted by certain suspicious western political circles.

Moreover, the current Europe that has broken away with colonialism and begun to establish better relations with the Arabs and Muslims is being welcomed not only by the states of the region but also by its people who feel that Europe is more appreciative of their causes and issues than the United States. Some of its stands could even be considered better than the official Arab stands, especially when it comes to the Palestinian question, and despite all the American pressures that try to prevent any active role for the European Union in this respect.

We do not, as Muslims, feel that there is anything wrong with the insistence of some of the European states to maintain their European identity in safeguarding their economic or political interests. We feel that such an attitude might even be a rejection to some of the American attempts to subdue the European stands. We also find in some of the European stands that reject the American hegemony, like the stand of President Jacque Chirac in the Istanbul summit, a certain trend towards independence that the Arabs and Muslims respect and that creates a feeling of remonstrance towards establishing friendlier relations with the EU and France in particular.

On the other hand, the EU countries should not be influenced by the Zionist propaganda about the effects of the Muslims presence in Europe. The Europeans know that such a presence did not lead to any negative consequences. The Muslims have become integrated in the European societies and became part of the European fabric. If they preserve their traditions and religious commitments, this does not hurt the general unity.

The Europeans themselves are diverse even at the religious level. If some Muslim individuals have harmed the security of some European countries or disrupted their political life, it is unjust to hold Islam and the Muslims the responsibility, especially that the religious scholars were the first to condemn these acts on religious grounds. Furthermore, these states are also being subjected to aggressions by European political organizations such as the Red Brigades or the IRA. If such organizations carry out any attack, would they say that the Christians did not?

On the other hand, we ask the Europeans to be consistent with their secular principles and not to claim for example that Turkey is Islamic and as such it cannot enter the EU. This is a kind of religious discrimination, on the part of those who say that they are secular.

We know that the Zionists are pressurizing the Europeans when it comes to dealing with Islam or by making them feel guilty when it come to Jews as in the latest threats of Sharon to France and his call for French Jews to migrate to occupied Palestine, or like when he said that the chances that the EU has for playing a role in the Middle East are slim. But we would like European states and nations to stop caring about the interests of the Jews to the detriment of the Arabs or Muslims.

If it were the fear of being accused of being anti-Semitic why would not they feel the same towards the Arabs who are equally Semitic? We believe that there is a favorable political climate to develop the Arab-European relations, but it needs more contact to explain the various cultural and political issues; a role that should be played by both the European and the Arabs or Muslims, especially the Arab and Muslims communities living in Europe.