Sunday

25th Aug 2019

400 groups sign charter for European Muslims

Some 400 Muslim groups met in Brussels on Thursday (10 January) to sign a charter for the Muslims of Europe, describing the rights and responsibilities of Muslims within European society.

"The charter is a message to government and the rest of society, but also directed at Muslims within Europe," said Ibrahim Elzayat, a spokesperson for the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE), the co-ordinator of the process that resulted in the historic document.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"It describes how we should act as positive citizens in the societies in which we live and not be a threat," he continued. The groups hope that the charter will help correct negative images of Islam and improve relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe.

The charter has been in development since 2000, when FIOE launched a debate on the establishment of such a document.

The attacks on New York and Washington of 11 September, 2001, gave the process added impetus, and FIOE formed a committee to draft a charter that would set out the general principles for a better understanding of Islam by non-Muslim Europeans and the bases for integration of Muslims in European society.

Leadership representatives from many of FIOE's member organisations discussed the charter, which was then presented to the groups at a seminar in Brussels in 2002. The project was then widely disseminated in order to incorporate the opinions of as many organisations and Muslim individuals as possible. The process took almost six years.

Representatives of the European Parliament welcomed the Charter.

"The charter amounts to a code of good conduct for Muslims in Europe which commits them to taking part in building a united society," said parliament vice-president Mario Mauro.

Mr Mauro, of the conservative Forza Italia party, is responsible for relations between the parliament and religious groups.

"It pledges Muslims to helping create harmony and well-being in our societies and to fully playing the role of citizens in upholding justice, equal rights and respect for difference."

The document contains 26 separate points, with a number of clauses that undoubtedly are aimed at dispelling myths about links between Islam and violence, as well as clarifying the meaning of terms such as 'jihad'.

"The term Jihad that occurs in Islamic texts means to exert all efforts towards good, starting from reforming oneself to spreading truth and justice between people," reads the document.

"Jihad in its understanding as warfare is regarded as one of the means available to any sovereign state when it needs to defend itself against aggression. The teachings of Islam, in this respect, are in line with international law."

"Based on such an understanding of Jihad, Islam rejects violence and terrorism, supports just causes and affirms the right of all people to defend themselves by legitimate means."

FIOE represents some 29 mostly Sunni Muslims organisations and more than 1000 local groups, including the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), the Union des organisations islamiques de France (UOIF) and the Islamische Gemeinschaft in Deutschland (IGD).

Moving up the EU's political agenda

The role of Muslims in Europe and European attitudes towards Islam has moved up the political agenda in the European Union, with the bloc officially celebrating the year of intercultural dialogue this year.

One of the first personalities to mark the year is Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syria, who will talk to MEPs on Tuesday (15 January).

Meanwhile, centre-right euro-deputies discussed EU-Islam relations last week. Focusing on religious education in schools, EU culture commissioner Jan Figel said that in most European schools, students are separated according to faith and are taught separately and only about their own religion.

He said Brussels would try and encourage member states to review school curricula, as well as mobility in their educational systems.

Swedish Conservative MEP and vice chairman of the EPP-ED group, Gunnar Hökmark, told EUobserver that even in countries that are not very religious, such as his native Sweden, people should know more about religion, if for no other reason than to be able to distinguish what is not religion.

"People wrongly link violence and terrorism to Islam," the MEP said.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations

Investigation

The EU committee's great 'per diem' charade

Around 30 members of European Economic Social Committee, who live and work primarily in Brussels or nearby, have claimed €1.47m in a 'daily subsistence' allowance from European taxpayers to cover accommodation, food and local transport for meetings held in Brussels.

EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests

The EU, in league with Canada, has spoken out on the Hong Kong protests after months of silence in what one expert called "a clear expression of support for the protesters".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us