Muslim Immigrants in Europe with Focus on Overseas PakistanisIPSweb
On July 21, 2011 a roundtable meeting on Muslim Immigrants in Europe with Focus on Overseas Pakistanis was organized in collaboration with Pakistan Norway Associations (PANA).
On July 21, 2011 a roundtable meeting on Muslim Immigrants in Europe with Focus on Overseas Pakistanis was organized in collaboration with Pakistan Norway Associations (PANA). The speakers included Khalid Rahman DG IPS, Muhammad Ather Javed, Chairperson of the Denmark based Danish International Dialogue and Amir Iftikhar Warraich, Acting President of PANA while the event was chaired by Riazul Haque, Senior Fellow, IPS.
Khalid Rahman quoting the surveys said that Muslim immigrant communities hailed from diverse ethnic and socio-cultural backgrounds, which by default slowed the process of cohesion and integration among various ethnic Muslim communities and in addition to the challenge of assimilation in the host society, they are faced with problems regarding Intra-Muslim harmony.
Over the last half of the 20th century, he said, Muslims in Europe established socio-religious and political footholds through establishment of institutions and centres. But this infrastructure is being challenged in the post-9/11 Europe, he observed.
Rahman added that the role of globalization is becoming critical for Muslims in Europe, as any development in their home country would affect them and any issue related to immigrants in Europe would raise voices in Muslim-majority countries.
Amir Iftikhar Warraich viewed that Pakistani expatriates living in Europe would be more than willing to return to their homeland if ‘push factors’ like loadshedding, law and order issues and poor governance were taken care of. He, however, pointed out that despite the fact that many Pakistanis living in Europe are third and, even, fourth generation, the linkage and sense of bonding with Pakistan was very strong, which needed to be capitalized on.
He argued that practicing Muslims were often facing more discrimination in educational institutes, employment and housing. “A non-practicing Muslim, who has abandoned all manifestations of Islam from his public and private life, finds doors open in social and economic life. But anyone who values his religion is most likely to be accused of disturbing national homogeneity”, Warraich opined. He also argued that current European mindset wanted assimilation of Muslims into their societies and were not content with mere integration.
Athar Javed stressed that the dialogue had to be initiated between host and guest communities to rediscover the harmony that existed in pre-9/11 Europe. He stated that in an environment where questions were being raised about Islam and role and status of Muslims, the time is ripe for the Muslim Diaspora in Europe to “present the true picture of Islam to their non-Muslim counterparts.”
Riyazul Haque, in his concluding remarks deplored the fact that while it is prohibited to deny the holocaust as it is seen as hurting the sentiments of Jews, Europeans were showing no regard for the sensitivities of Muslims. He also emphasized the need to provide a sense of security to the Muslims living in Europe.