advancing liberal democracy and countering violent extremism
Jul 22, 2020
4 min read
Erdogan and the Islamic Conquest of Europe
Erdogan waiving with Rabea sign of the Muslim Brotherhood
The Turkish President Erdogan knows that he will not be able to turn Libya into another Syria, due to several geopolitical considerations. He, also, knows that the Turkish people, who are suffering the economic consequences of his regime failures, gave up on the rhetoric of fixing turkey’s economic problems by reviving the Ottoman era and reoccupying Middle East and North Africa countries. Therefore, Erdogan resorted to wearing his favorite gown of the Islamic conqueror of Europe. He ordered the conversion of the historical cathedral “Hagia Sophia” into a mosque. Then, his Muslim Brotherhood party members went on cheering and chanting “Allahukbar” and “Alhamdullilah” on social media; in a naive attempt to portray his cultural transgression on a Christian worship house as a victory for Islam and Muslims.
If you are one of the many, who wonder about the benefits that Erdogan may accrue from transforming a cathedral into a mosque, here is the answer. He is trying to fortify himself against Europe’s anger over Libya, by igniting the religious emotions of Muslims around the world. He is playing the Islamic conqueror of Europe, who does not fear to defy all forms of western civilization in the old continent, including harassing Christians, and challenging secularism. For Europe, secularism is more than just a human principle that dictates the separation between state affairs and religion. It is an integral part of the internal laws and collective consciousness in every European country. Unfortunately, many Muslim scholars around the world, including the moderate ones, agree with Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood on prohibiting secularism and framing it as a major sin, equal to atheism or infidelity.
For Erdogan, by challenging secularism and Christian holy places inside Europe, he is acting as the supreme leader of the Islamic conquest of Europe. This way, he is punching Europe’s unity in the core, while magnifying his image as a supreme leader for Muslims in Europe and beyond. Over the past decade, Turkey has already invaded the hearts and minds of the growing number of Muslims in its neighbor European countries. Controlling Muslim communities inside other countries under the flag of religious education poses a great political risk for the hosting countries. Those Muslim communities, gradually, turn into political advocacy groups, who lobby for the interest of their religious leaders in Turkey.
France, the NATO ally of Turkey, is one of the most alert countries in face of Turkey’s, and Muslim Brotherhood’s, intellectual invasion to Muslim communities in Europe. Islam, in France, occupies the second place after Catholicism in terms of the percentage of citizens who embrace it. I remember one of my French friends used to joke about being the most popular male name in France, after “François” is “Mohamed.” Muslims in France exceed six million people; most of them are immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa. For decades, the migrating Muslims, especially from North Africa, blended easily into the French society, because their original countries are highly influenced by the Francophone culture. However, in the past ten years, France witnessed several terrorist attacks by Muslims living on its land. This indicates a radical change that must have happened in the behavior of the Muslim community, and, thus, requires re-assessment and correction.
In February, France’s President Macron announced a government-led campaign to fight "Islamist separatism," due to its contradiction with the national values of France, including women’s rights, secularism, freedom, and equality. According to Macron, Islamist separatism has encouraged Muslims in distant suburbs to adopt their own legal systems and give a priority to their own laws, and refuse to abide by the laws of the republic, on the pretext that they are secular laws. To confront Islamist separatism, Macron set a plan to gradually set legal limits to curb foreign influence on the Muslim community inside France. The first step in this plan is to stop allowing foreign countries, including Turkey, from sending and funding Sheikhs and Imams to educate or preach Muslims in their own schools and mosques inside France. Most of those Imams, are paid by their native countries, loaded by their countries’ political agendas, and the French government, rarely, supervises the content they present to Muslims.
Consequently, “La République En Marche!” the ruling party, in France, focused its work in Parliament on finding an appropriate solution to the Islamist separatism phenomenon. On July 12, two days before the National Day celebrations in France, the Senate announced the findings of a months-long investigation, by the Republican Party, into the growth of Islamic extremism in France. The investigations found out that, in France, there are “fifty thousand members of the Muslim Brotherhood and forty thousand members of the Salafists," who are active in promoting and strengthening Islamist separatism. A few months ago, a report on Islamic extremism in France, published by “Institut Montaigne,” a French liberal think tank, found that there were attempts by some foreign countries, such as Turkey, to generate and recruit Islamic extremists from the Muslim communities in France.
France’s concern over the growing Islamic extremism on its soil is a recurring matter in most European countries, these days. The one common factor behind the rise of Islamic extremism in European countries is the rising influence of Erdogan and his Muslim Brotherhood among Muslim communities. Is it time for Europe to act decisively in the face of the new Islamist conqueror of Europe?