Having been invited to be a panelist at the British Council sponsored debate, Europe & Islam: whose identity crisis? at the European Parliament last Thursday (19th November 2009), I was asked to open the discussion by responding to the following question: do we actually have a ‘shared Europe’?

My answer is posted below:

Do we have a ‘shared Europe’? Well yes we do, but we ‘share’ Europe in different ways.

We share some values, we share some of our culture, and we share some aspects of our identities for instance. But it is important to stress that this does not mean that we are homogenous: sharing does not mean that we are all the same.

So while we can – and do – share aspects of our values, culture and identities amongst others, still there remains a great difference and disparity between and within what we traditionally see or perceive to be Europe. So the British remain quite different and distinct from the Greeks, the Swedish from the Spanish and so on.

So yes, we do have a ‘shared Europe’ quite irrespective of such differences as nationality, ethnicity, religion, social standing, language and so on.

But we are not and do not need to be the same to share in that experience. We do not need to be the same to share European spaces.

We can therefore be different – and indeed are different – at the same time as sharing Europe and all that Europe stands for.

For more information about the debate, click here.

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3 thoughts on “Do we have a ‘shared Europe’…?

    1. Steve,

      You’re probably inferring something that I didn’t actually say at the debate. I said that I personally felt that the time had come for some Muslims and their organisations to resist from merely repeating the mantra of ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ as a means of trying to counter Islamophobia and the general mistrust/ dislike/ hatred of Muslims and Islam. I say this because it doesn’t work: the general public do not necessarily care nor do they believe it.

      As for Bashy, it is up to him what message he personally presents but there are of course pitfalls in doing so as indeed Douglas Murray highlighted when confronting Bashy with a question about the Qur’an.

      Chris

      1. Hi Chris,

        Sorry for leaving you messages on two different pages!

        I agree with you 100%. Spot on. What I am interested in though is where you think the answer is. Can the public swallow the complexity of the argument when they are fed a simplistic understanding of “Islam” day-in-day-out? The sorts of arguments I suspect you would put forward might well be intellectually sound but are they transferable to the classic pub conversations?!? This is a genuine question because it is something I personally find hard.

        What sound bit counters the Islam = terrorism sound bite that the public are currently receiving?

        Steve

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