Tuesday

15th Oct 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.

EU countries to halt arms sales to Turkey

EU states have agreed to stop arms sales to Turkey over its invasion of Syria, marking a nadir in relations with their Nato ally. In response, Ankara mocked the decision as a "joke".

Nine Catalan separatist leaders given long jail terms

Spain's Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan leaders to between nine and 13 years in prison for sedition and misuse of public funds over their role in Catalonia's 2017 bid for independence. The possible legal immunity of some MEPs remains unanswered.

EU powerless in new Syrian mayhem

EU foreign ministers are meeting to find a common position on the Turkish invasion in Syria. However, events are evolving quickly, as Kurdish forces asked the Syrian army to protect them.

Hungarian opposition wins Budapest in blow to Orban

Budapest joins Istanbul and Warsaw by having an opposition mayor to a strongman illiberal leader, after a united opposition serves a shock blow across several towns in local elections in Hungary.

Opinion

New Dutch terror bill must not target aid workers

A controversial counterterrorism bill could end up criminalising aid workers in the Netherlands if they enter conflict hotspots when assisting the world's most vulnerable people.

Investigation

EU proposes pesticide ban, but key documents still secret

Time is running out for chlorpyrifos, the pesticide which is a cause of brain damage to human fetuses and newly-born children. The EU Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have both stated approval should not be renewed.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Latest News

  1. EU countries to halt arms sales to Turkey
  2. Nine Catalan separatist leaders given long jail terms
  3. Poland's right-wing ruler wins four more years
  4. EU powerless in new Syrian mayhem
  5. Hungarian opposition wins Budapest in blow to Orban
  6. New Dutch terror bill must not target aid workers
  7. EU proposes pesticide ban, but key documents still secret
  8. Brexit nail-biter and EU nominations This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  2. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  3. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  9. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  12. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us