The history of misrepresentation of Islam in Europe has been very long and painful. Up to the beginning of the 20th century the Orientalists were mainly engaged in painting Islam with the worst possible colours. The winds of a positive change started, and a bit of objectivity was seen in the approach of western writers only when some Muslim writers entered the field and misrepresentation became difficult. Yet the west is not fully free from the grip of Islamophobia. The constant moves to make religious life of Muslims difficult in Europe can be seen every day.
It is shocking that an enlightened democratic country like Switzerland, after a referendum, decided to impose a ban on minarets of mosques in November 2009. It is worth noting that the country has only six per cent Muslims and there are only four minarets in the existing mosques.
Especially after rise of Islam as an alternative to western way of life and continuous cases of conversion of men, and more women, in the west, and the launching of the so-called war on terror Islamophobia is on the rise.
On March 31, 2010 Belgium became the first country to impose a legal ban on full face niqab. French president Nicolas Sarkozi is determined to introduce a ban on burqua, despite the advice of legal experts, human rights activists and the powerful Catholic church in France.
Mr. Sarkozi pleads that veiling of face is against the dignity of women. He has never cared to comment whether or not mini-skirts, nude clubs, illicit sexual relations of ‘consenting adults’ are harmful for women’s dignity. He is possessed by a strange concept of women’s dignity. Just two years back he kicked out his wife of two decades when he fell in love with supermodel Carla Bruni, who had several lovers earlier. Sarkozi has the image of being a flamboyant middle aged politician who can throw his heart as easily as one can throw his hat at a chosen place. He was shameless enough to tour a number of countries with Bruni even before marrying her.
One fails to understand what dignity there is in revealing the bedroom details in public. The latest book The Promise by American writer Jonathan Alter gives shameful and demeaning details about the Sarkozis and says that the First French Lady feels sexually starved with her over busy husband. It is a tragedy that millions of dehumanised readers, day in and day out, read all these dirty details with great relish. Unfortunately, by and large, the west has fallen in the abyss of the worst moral degradation. Only Islam can bring them out of this hell of immorality.
The need of hour is more hard work by Islamic intellectuals to stem the tide of Islamophobia so that the west can see Islam in its true colours.