European Union and Muslim Communities: The past and the present of the relationships

The past and the present foreign policy of the European countries have its influence on the EU member states. This phenomenon is conditioned by a number of circumstances. Let us begin the dynamic study of the relations with the colonial history of the European countries and the related issues. The largest immigration in European countries is observed among the Muslim countries, which were once a member of the European colony. In this regard, Germany is the only exception to the largest European countries, where the largest immigration occurs from Turkey. The choice of Muslim immigrants in the former European metropolitan countries has a number of reasons, particularly the links between the former colony and the metropolitan, especially economic, cultural, contribute to that choice. An example of cultural communication can be brought to the language. Together with the national language in the former colonies, it was often the language of the metropolis as the official language in the country, also the second most popular language among the population[i]. This circumstance greatly contributes to the former colonial population in finding jobs in former metropolises whose language and culture they are already familiar with, and all this makes it easier to integrate into a host country. This phenomenon is seen in immigration from its former colonies in France, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Mali, Cameroon, Senegal and other colonies or from India, Pakistan, and other former British colonies to the UK. Former European colonies, in particular France and Great Britain, have created various international structures to maintain and develop their relationships( especially cultural) with their former colonies, mainly the former colonial states. A striking example of such organizations is Francophonie of France and Great Britain’s cooperation with nations. The member countries of such member organizations may have somewhat better opportunities of immigration chance to integrate, work, and acquire citizenship in that country. However, the former metropolitan immigration also has quite negative consequences. In particular, problems with the former colonial immigrants in the host country often arise not with the first generation of immigrants, but second and subsequent generations. The first generation of immigrants, or just immigrants, having come from any European country  are willing to perform some low-paid hard work, or if they have come due to a political persecution in their homeland, mostly do not create problems for the host country. The second and subsequent generations of immigrants who are born and raised in a hospitable European country and even have the citizenship of that country are often problematic. These generations, in contrast to the first-generation immigrants, consider their homeland not their own historical homeland but the homeland where they live. Considering themselves as full-fledged citizens of the country, and the country as their own, the descendants of immigrants try to establish a cultural, social and religious situation in that country that is unique to their identity and is present in their historical homeland. With this logic, Muslim ghettos of large European cities are creating situations that correspond to the culture and identity of the immigrant group. It is also remarkable that new generations of immigrants, regarding themselves as full-fledged citizens and particles of European countries, no longer want to work on the conditions and rewards that their previous generations worked, but the low level of education and professionalism often does not allow them to be well-paid and to obtain highly qualified work. This leads to mass unemployment among immigrants, which is associated with increased crime, increased social burden on the state, and other negative phenomena. It should be noted that, for example, European Union unemployment rate among Muslims is 40-45%, and in the whole country – 5-10% [ii]. This in turn causes social justice, which also leads to the marginalization of the immigrant Muslim population and the rise of extremist moods. The most striking evidence of these phenomena is the mass disorders that took place in Paris in 2005, in London in 2011 and the major cities in Sweden in 2013, which were accompanied by immigration offenses, fires, bullying and murders. The causes of disarray were police abuse in these countries, which, according to Muslim immigrants, took place around them, but the main reasons were more profound- social. Continuing immigration also has an exciting impact on the already existing communities of the immigrants. Thus, often, the former immigrants see more religious and cultural similarities in new immigrants than they see in the population of the country they live in. This in itself leads to the identity crisis and the quest for a new identity. All of this contributes to the radicalization and extremes of the new generations of immigrants. All of this contributes to the radicalization and extremes of the new generations of immigrants. Many young Muslims born and raised in European countries find themselves in the extreme Islam directions. Another circumstance sums to this. The former population of the colonies is often genetically quite negative toward а former colonial country and its population, taking into account the historical past. This, in itself, is a fertile land and is a good precondition for the overall destabilization of the situation in the conditions of Islamic extremism.

The influence of geopolitical processes on the EU-Islam relations

In the world, especially in Europe, anti-Western moods among Muslim populations related to the West and particularly the foreign policy of the European countries have other deep root as well. In the context of circumstances, the West served the Islamic radicalism and extremism to achieve its geopolitical goals and to fight against its main competitor during the Cold War against the USSR. For example, when the Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in the period of 1979-1989, the West supported Afghanistan’s Mujahidins, which basically had extreme Islamist ideology. However, after the end of the Cold War, Islamist extremist groups in Afghanistan and elsewhere did not disappear but found themselves in another ideological opponent in the face of the West. This phenomenon, both in the world and in European countries, became relevant after the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001. Al-Qaeda terrorist organization, which carried out a terrorist act, proclaimed its main ideological opponent for the West and Western liberal values and pursued the goal of establishing a caliphate on the basis of the Wahhabi ideology in the Middle East. The tough reaction of the United States and its European allies, particularly the UK, to terrorists and Islamic radicalism in 2001, with the invasion of Afghanistan and occupation of Iraq in 2003, had more negative consequences from the West-Islamic World Dialogue perspective. Most of the Muslims throughout the world view these actions of the West as a civilization struggle against Islam. They view the invasion of Muslim countries in the Middle East and other regions of the world as a new Crusade of the West and therefore try to harshly react to what they called harassment against Islam. This leads to the growth of anti Westernism, the spread of extremist and radical ideas and groups among Muslims in the Muslim countries and communities. It is worth mentioning the work of Samuel Huntington: ”The Clash of Civilization” where he views Europe as a wider public, a part of the West whose relations with the Islamic world has always been confronting and has never been easy.” The main problem of the West is not Islamic radicalism, nor the US Defense Ministry or the Central Intelligence Agency are the problems of the Islamic world. The problem is that Western civilization has the mentality that their culture is universal and must be spread all over the world”, writes Huntington [iii].

The global confrontation between the West and the Islamic world has a profound impact on the Islamic communities and the new Muslim immigrants in Europe. All this has the undesirable consequences for the European states, under the influence of extremist political Islam, particularly by the Wahhabism and Salafism. Representatives of extremist sentiments and diverse Islamist, often open-minded terrorist organizations are able to recruit young Muslims in Islamic Muslim countries in European countries, making up various extremist cells, networks and groups in that country. As mentioned above, the conditions are more than available for that. It is noteworthy that mosques are known to be centers for gatherings and brainwashing. They are the ideal place for the Muslim youths to be implanted in the Wahhabi spirit and lead them to ”the right path of Islam”. Indeed, it can be stated that it is easy to radically narrow, marginalize a mass that is unemployed, is of low level of education, feels alien in society and is in a search of identity, by playing on religious gentle wires. Unwanted effects caused by the rise of Islamic extremism for European countries were not late. On March 11, 2004, a series of terrorist attacks took place in commuter trains in Madrid, which resulted in hundreds of casualties and thousands injured. Al Qaeda terrorist group has taken on responsibility for terrorism. On July 7, 2005, a series of terrorist attacks took place on underground trains in London where dozens of people were killed. This time as well Al Qaeda terrorist group has taken on responsibility for terrorism. Terrorism acts were not carried out at any particular request, but just commented on by Qaeda as steps to combat the West’s disbelievers. From these statements it becomes clear that the problem is not with one or more European states, but rather a result of a massive civilization confrontation. Of course, after the terrorist acts in European countries, some complex actions have been carried out and are still being implemented to prevent the phenomena of terrorism, but the further course of the events shows that in reality the problems are deeper and tend to complicate and cannot be solved only by anti-terrorist actions. The existence of Muslim communities allows the extremists to have a certain social pillar in European countries, and time has shown that the pillars are constantly growing in terms of both quantitative and network prevalence.

”Arab Spring” and the further deepening of the confrontation

The escalation of the relations between the Muslim population and the European countries and the wave of the greatest scandal and confrontation with Islam in Europe began, with our conviction after the Arab spring revolution series. From the very beginning of the Arab spring, Arab revolutions were either had or showed to have enough liberal goals and ideas. In particular, they fought against the dictatorial regimes and called for the establishment of democratic states. The West, in particular the United States and the EU member states, all supported the “liberal forces” of the Arab world. But what has really happened after the revolutions. Bloody civil wars are going on in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq, Islamists have come to power in Tunis and Egypt is in an economically unstable state, and there is a great danger of the Islamist uprising that has local manifestations on the Sinai Peninsula. As a result, irregularity, chaos, increased violence, extreme deterioration of economic and social conditions, millions of refugees and, as we can see, all this is very close to Europe. In the case of the situation in North Africa and especially in the ongoing civil war in Libya, mass immigration from that region to the EU, particularly to Italy, France and Spain, has grown considerably. This new big wave of immigrants brings with it many social and economic issues. According to some data, only in 2014 about 1,700,000 immigrants have illegally crossed to Italy from Libya by the sea from where they spread to other European countries [iv]. In the first three months of 2015, 140000 immigrants [v]  have illegally moved to Italy from Libya and Tunis and about 600,000 have gone to Europe later [vi].

Multiple communities in the above-mentioned European countries are enriched with new members, which aggravate the situation in the current condition. All this is accompanied by another interconnected problem, which is the logical continuation of the above phenomena. During  the civil war in Syria and Iraq, jihadists and other radical Islamists are going to leave for Europe Muslims [vii]  from thousands of European countries born and raised in European countries and are second or third generations of immigrants. This is already a vivid fact about how the contradiction between the European societies and Muslims has connected with Muslims. Besides the fact that Europe acts as a source of jihadists, there is also a bigger problem which can greatly destabilize the situation in European countries. This is the question of the return of extremists to Europe that had left to fight in Muslim countries. As they are citizens of European countries, it will be difficult to distinguish between those who have gone to jihad from the rest of the Muslims. In such a large number, the return of jihadists with such military experience and extreme radical ideas can have disastrous consequences for European countries. Muslims from Europe are currently in the ranks of the “Islamic State group”, which is engaged in the genocide and other indefinite cruelties of non-Muslim Muslims and other peoples in Iraq and Syria. It is noteworthy that jihadists, who have gone from Europe, often appear in the roles of the most brutal actors. The fact of growing terrorist threats also indicates that the majority of European countries is constantly raising the degree of terrorism in their countries [viii, ix, x] and declares about many terrorist acts prepared by the Islamic State and al Qaeda. Summarizing several aspects of the foreign policy of the European countries and the effects of it on the Islamic communities, we can say that 1is the influence of the former colonial-metropolitan relationships and their consequences. This circumstance also contributes to the growth of emigration from the Muslim world to Europe as well as a number of fundamental issues over time, which can have very negative consequences for the deadline and long term. The 2nd is a direct reflection of the foreign policy pursued by the West, particularly EU member states, on Islamic communities in Europe. As we have noted recently, the policy led to the new mass immigration from the Muslim world, the unprecedented rise in extremism of the Muslim community, and the consequent increase in the terrorist threat, which can lead to the destabilization of the situation within the European countries and the deepening of the confrontation between the European civilization and Islam.

[i] Տե՛ս, Bernard Spolsky, “Language Management”, p. 149

[ii] Стёпкина Н.С. “Проблемы занятости, безработицы и миграции рабочей силы в условиях глобализации”

[iii] Տե՛ս, Хантингтон С., “Столкновение цивилизаций”, М.: ООО «Издательство АСТ», 2003 г., ст.343.

[iv] У берегов Ливии перевернулся корабль с мигрантами: до 700 погибших

[v]With only a small rucksack and the clothes on their back, hundreds of desperate illegal immigrants pour into an Italian port as families flee their African homelands seeking a better life in Europe

[vi] 600,000 migrants are lined up along North African coast and ready to enter Europe this summer warns Italy

[vii] Европейцы на службе ИГИЛ

[viii] В Бельгии объявлен 4 уровень террористической угрозы, идёт охота на исламистов из Сирии

[ix] В Европе боятся терроризма! В Нидерландах повышен уровень угрозы терактов!

[x] В Испании повышен уровень террористической угрозы

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  2. Основные тенденции современных алжиро-французских международных отношений
  3. Мирон Боргулёв, “Миграционная политика Франции: выводы и уроки для России (II)
  1. Миграция населения из Южной Азии в Великобританию
  2. Электронный каталог -Греш, С.А. – Франкофония в прошлом и настоящем, Институт Африки РАН, 2017
  3. Нинель Сергеевна Крылова. “Содружество наций: политико-правовые проблемы”, Москва 1991
  4. Интеграция и миграция населения.
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  6. Timeline French riots
  7. UK riots 2011
  8. Stockholm riots throw spotlight on Swedish inequality
  9. Хантингтон “Столкновение цивилизаций”, M.: OOO «издательство АСТ, 2003
  10. Madrid train bombings of 2004
  11. Four suicide bombers struck in central London on Thursday 7July. Killing 52people and injuring more than 770.
  12. Madrid train bombings of 2004
  13. Arab Uprisings
  14. The Libyan Revolution, F.B.-17(February 17th)
  15. Tunisia: Analyzing the Dawn of the Arab Spring
  16. After Arab Spring Surveillance In Egypt Intesifies
  17. Syria: The story of the conflict
  18. “Lessons from Libya How Not to Intervene “
  19. У берегов Ливии перевернулся корабль с мигрантами: до 700 погибших
  20. With only a small rucksack and the clothes on their back, hundreds of desperate illegal immigrants pour into an Italian port as families flee their African homelands seeking a better life in Europe
  21. 600,000 migrants are lined up along North African coast and ready to enter Europe this summer warns Italy 600,000 migrants are lined up along North African coast and ready to enter Europe this summer warns Italy
  22. Европейцы на службе ИГИЛ
  23. В Бельгии объявлен 4 уровень террористической угрозы, идёт охота на исламистов из Сирии
  24. В Европе боятся терроризма! В Нидерландах повышен уровень угрозы Терактов
  25. В Испании повышен уровень террористического угрозы


Author: Andranik Hovhannisyan  © All rights are reserved

Translator: Anna Ghulijanyan


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