Muslims as voters?

Sylwia Bulak

In the era of islamophobic trends, which connect every slight sign of Islamic affiliation with al-Qaeda membership, the question of Muslims participation in European politics might be seen insane.

Muslims as voters? Muslims as politicians, decision – making people? Some may have feeling of a inside-started conquest.

It is easy to see Muslims, if not as a threat, then at least as strangers. They are not Christians, they didn’t come from Europe, they should be ruled of course but vice versa – this is out of the question.

Do we really hope that thanks to an intolerant way of thinking all Muslims will suddenly pack their stuff and move out from our continent? It will not happen. But as a result we will have firm enemies just behind the corner.

 It is definitely better to perceive Muslims already as one of the parts of Europe society, a part which we want to be more integrated. It means a part which can also contribute to politics. Let’s take a closer look at Muslim presence in this field.

The estimated number of Muslim in Europe is around 16 million. With the EU Member States having a total population of 502.52 million people it constitutes only a few percentage. Still a large part of this group possess solely a status of immigrants. Without the European citizenship they cannot claim the right to vote! Muslim actual electorate is therefore even lower that these 3 mentioned percentage. No wonder, that Muslim parties hardly exists; if still, they are small organizations with no real influence on state politics.

If we take into consideration the European level, in the European Parliament there is only 11 members with a Muslim family background. They did not make any statement on their religion, some of them are openly secular. What is the most important, their political actions or speeches do not reflect the support towards Islam religion.

There are of course individual Muslim politicians taking active part in politics in Western Europe, Sweden, Greece and Italy. Some of them were talented enough to become parliament or even cabinet members (France and Netherlands). The total number is however not too much impressive. Moreover, what is common for almost all politicians with Muslim background,  that they are unlikely to state directly their religious affiliation. 

It seems that  the only reliable way  for Muslims to have a say in national or European politics is through numerous associations, not parties nor politicians. And what should be pointed out, whatever the Muslim participation would be, the fear that they could support values opposite to European ones is entirely unreasonable.  For instance, a campaign which would try to persuade that men and women should not enjoy equal position in a society (an issue often associated with Islam) would be simply contrary to European constitutional orders, where non-discrimination is one of the basic principles. And these legal rules each European inhabitant should respect, regardless of the religious affiliation.

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