Europe should ex­plore with China how to reg­u­late re­li­gion

Global Times US Edition - - EDITORIAL - By Ai Jun

For days, Eu­ro­pean me­dia have made no se­cret of their dis­con­tent­ment with China’s so-called un­fair treat­ment of Mus­lims and other eth­nic groups in Xin­jiang and de­manded Bei­jing shut down its train­ing cen­ters. How­ever, how to cut down on rad­i­cal Is­lamists, pre­vent or­di­nary peo­ple from be­ing drawn to ex­trem­ism and fend off its as­so­ci­ated dan­gers are global is­sues. When Europe ac­cuses China with­out hes­i­ta­tion, it may have over­looked its own trou­bles.

Ways of reg­u­lat­ing re­li­gions and pre­vent­ing re­li­gious be­liefs from dis­turb­ing sec­u­lar so­ci­eties, such as the sepa­ra­tion of church and state, are the foun­da­tion of Eu­ro­pean civ­i­liza­tion. But as early as 2002, US po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Fran­cis Fukuyama raised the ques­tion: “Are we see­ing the start of a decades-long ‘clash of civ­i­liza­tions’ be­tween the West and rad­i­cal Is­lam?”

Un­de­ni­ably, Is­lam is a re­li­gion of love and peace. Yet his­tory also proves that vi­o­lent Is­lamist ex­trem­ism can emerge and spread rapidly, which has led to chaos, con­fronta­tions and the rise of the pop­ulist right.

Re­ports show that in the UK, 43 per­cent of Mus­lims liv­ing in the coun­try be­lieve that Sharia Law should re­place Bri­tish law. A rad­i­cal Is­lamist was once warned for sug­gest­ing the flag of the Is­lamic State would one day fly over 10 Down­ing Street.

France used to en­cour­age its cit­i­zens to marry Mus­lims to as­sim­i­late them into main­stream so­ci­ety. In the end, most lo­cal res­i­dents mar­ried to Mus­lims con­verted to Is­lam af­ter mar­ry­ing. A “par­al­lel so­ci­ety” is aris­ing within the coun­try’s Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion. Not to men­tion that since 2014, the na­tion suf­fered 20 ter­ror­ist at­tacks that have left more than 200 peo­ple dead.

The “clash of civ­i­liza­tions” in Ger­many is per­haps worse. When Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel opened the na­tion’s door to refuges, she was hailed for be­ing on the “right side of his­tory.” Then ev­ery­thing changed.

In 2016, the crime rate among mi­grants in Ger­many rose by more than 50 per­cent and nearly 10 at­tacks on mi­grants oc­curred ev­ery day. The num­ber of vi­o­lent clashes be­tween res­i­dents and mi­grants, and mass sex­ual as­saults is swelling. The refugee cri­sis dev­as­tated the au­thor­ity of tra­di­tional Ger­man po­lit­i­cal forces, cre­at­ing enough con­di­tions for the rise of rad­i­cal po­lit­i­cal pow­ers.

Be­ing a rel­a­tively low-in­come, low-ed­u­ca­tion com­mu­nity, Mus­lims often find it hard to adapt to West­ern so­ci­ety. Add cul­ture shock, lan­guage bar­ri­ers, it is be­yond dif­fi­cult for them to achieve so­cial mo­bil­ity or ad­vance their sta­tus in Europe. Prac­tic­ing their own re­li­gion is the only way to break away from lone­li­ness, dis­ap­point­ment and anger. In such cir­cum­stances, they can be in­flu­enced by ex­treme thoughts ef­fort­lessly and re­sort to vi­o­lence so as to vent their re­sent­ment, re­sult­ing in end­less so­cial prob­lems.

Europe is over­whelmed by Mus­lims and po­ten­tial ex­trem­ists among them. Amid grow­ing vi­o­lence, the rapid emer­gence of right-wing move­ments hos­tile to im­mi­grants and widen­ing so­cial di­ver­gences, will large-scale re­li­gious con­flicts stage a come­back? Or will Europe be Is­lamized? In­stead of judg­ing China con­de­scend­ingly, Europe might need to sit down and dis­cuss with China how to fig­ure out their com­mon chal­lenges.

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