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 Islam and Muslims in Europe    by Dr Tariq Ramadan

Protecting one's Faith, remaining Muslim

Active young Muslims in certain associations for the longest time had been receiving the message that to tolerate their presence came at the price of their religious practice. This rhetoric, mainly from the political personas and the media appeared to confirm such a conclusion. Their conclusion? It is better to be isolated. It is only very recently that through analysis, debates, external and internal discussions that it became apparent that nothing in the letter or the spirit of the European legislation was in opposition with a peaceful and complete practice of the Muslim religion.[9] The laws do not say what some would like to have them say. Essentially, what the practicing Muslims wanted was to protect their faith and to be assured about their right to practice their religion. The awareness of this possibility personally and legally, that is to be fully Muslim and European created in a vast majority of Muslim associations, a coherent and open dialogue of identity. This stimulated a break from the past where the discussions had often been reactionary and aggressive, ten years back. This achievement is of utmost importance even though these associations are always faced with bothersome administrative aspects due to suspicion, fear, and the widespread confusion that if someone is practicing, that means he is "already" a fundamentalist.

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