Europe should explore with China how to regulate religion

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/7 22:33:41

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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