Kia (ddstory) wrote in talk_politics,
Kia
ddstory
talk_politics

This PEGIDA thing...


You must've heard already - there's a wave of protests going through Germany as we speak, under this new organization PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamification of the West). They're claiming to be peacefully opposed to the Islamization of German society, while their detractors are predictably Godwinning the hell out of them, branding them with all sorts of Nazi epithets. There've also been counter-protests, again in the thousands, which the mainstream media have duly put the emphasis on, while attempting to portray the PEGIDA protesters as some sort of right-wing extremists.

No doubt there are plenty of extremists among them. But I've spoken to people who've been on both sides on the street, and I must tell you the bulk of them are just ordinary people who have their genuine concerns that they believe are valid. They don't want people being gassed in death chambers or detained in concentration camps. They don't want a "holy Crusade" against Muslims. They're just fed up with what they call the "failed multiculturalism model", which Merkel herself (who's now being quick to condemn them) has bashed on more than one occasion in the past.


Curiously, most of these protests are taking place across cities mainly in the eastern, poorer and more underdeveloped part of Germany - which only comes to reinforce my belief that people tend to be more sensitive to social issues when they're stuck in a somewhat dire economic predicament. We'd seldom hear of people being concerned with extremism, or becoming extremists of any sort, at times of prosperity, would we?

The problem that many mainstream politicians are more than willing to overlook (and hence, their problems with rising challengers from both the far-right and far-left lately), is that Islam has been allowed (or has allowed itself) to become heavily politicized in Europe. Most migration is race- or ethnicity based, and is used to cause antagonism by populists - antagonisms that are usually containable and addressable (sic?), but there are obstacles being put to that. People are consciously aware of all this. But the introduction of a politicized religious aspect gives migration an ideological foundation which is deeply resented, because there's an implied sinister suggestion that the migrant intends to gradually change the host society ideologically rather than culturally, through the process of peaceful assimilation and interaction.


The emphasis in Europe has been on multiculturalism, rather than on "multi ideology". One is perceived as being more benign and beneficial than the other. That's not to say that Europe is "mono ideology", but rather that it regards its "multi ideology" as emerging from internal intellectual discourse rather from external pressure. It's easier for an indigenous European to go to an Indian, Turkish or Thai restaurant or to a reggae concert or join a yoga class, than to join a local mosque. None of the former activities are perceived as being inherently political, but ones boiling down to individual tastes and choices. In this sense, European Muslims probably need to work some more to distance themselves from the notion of being identified with global Islamic movements that are inherently political, and strive for identifying themselves more with the political and cultural interests of their host countries. That way the issue of conflicting loyalties would not be used against them as it's happening at the moment.

This doesn't mean Muslims should detach themselves from humanitarian compassion for people suffering injustice in the world (like the Palestinian issue for example), only that their compassion should be humanitarian and more general, and not reserved primarily for global Muslim communities. It's a subtle distinction, where European Muslims could either help re-shape European foreign policy and be a positive force, including in addressing global issues related to Islam - or continue to be increasingly perceived and painted as being "the enemy within", and further capsulated and isolated.


All that said, a number of current EU member states which are former colonial powers and used to exploit large chunks of the world for economic gains for a very long time, and which used to arbitrarily re-draw maps thus wreaking havoc for generations ahead, are rather jaded when it comes to managing immigration. It's as if nothing has changed since the 60s and 70s. That refusal to self-reflect can lead to retrogression on this vital issue as well as many others. After all, it was Europe that championed globalization, and largely benefited from it. There's also considerably European migration to other parts of the world which is seldom, almost never mentioned. In other words, a lot of Europeans feel they can travel around the world and settle wherever they want, bringing their cultural peculiarities with them, but others should not be allowed to come to their countries and essentially do the very same thing without becoming subject to hatred and discrimination. There's a blind sense of entitlement that many Europeans have in this regard, which they seem to resent so much in others - and that's an issue of double standard that should be openly discussed too, and addressed in a meaningful way. But yelling across the street and throwing labels at each other is definitely not the way to go about it.
Tags: europe, germany, islamism, right wing, xenophobia
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