Should Europe fear its Muslim citizens? The cowardly terrorist attacks in Paris have rightly attracted strong condemnation from Muslim leaders in New Zealand and across the world, but despite that, it is likely European Muslims will now come under closer scrutiny than ever before.
Is the suspicion justified? A 2009 Gallup survey of European Muslims showed they are just as likely, if not more so, to identify with the country in which they live, than the rest of the population. A 2010 Gallup survey showed similar results in America: Muslim Americans are as likely to identify with the US (69 per cent) as they are with their faith (65 per cent). So, Muslims see no conflict between their religion and national identity.
There are 15 million to 17 million Muslims in the European Union (population: 508 million). Politically and socially, German Muslims have little in common with French Muslims. For the majority, their identity is more closely tied with their gender, language, social class and nationality rather than faith.
They are perceived as refugees or immigrants even though the Bosnian, Bulgarian, Spanish, Roma and Greek Muslims, for instance, have been in Europe for centuries.
Popular discourse around Europe's Muslims tends to centre on an inability to integrate. The controversial banning of burqa in France in 2011 and Swiss Minaret ban in 2009 were justified as removing barriers to integration.
Muslims argue differently. They say their desire to build mosques or dress according to their faith or ethnicity proves they feel at home in their host countries.
Muslims want the welcome and tolerance shown to the artistic expressions of their culture (think poetry, music, carpet, architecture, couscous, kebab) to be extended to their skin colour, faith, and choice of clothing.
The treatment of Muslim refugees by the West may have crucial implications for the fight against terrorism. As Europe is closing its borders to desperate Muslim men, Isis is welcoming them with open arms, promising dignity and recognition instead of despair and isolation.
A crucial step towards combating terrorism is for Western leaders to actively engage with their Muslim citizens and put them at the forefront of the fight against extremism; after all, the overwhelming majority of Isis' victims are Muslims.
This means adopting a language of unity, respect and mutual trust; acknowledging Muslims as fellow citizens.
It means we have to avoid the dehumanisation of Muslims and stop referring to them as the "other".
Hamid Dabashi, a Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York, writes: "Of course, the attack on the French is an attack on humanity, but is an attack on a Lebanese, an Afghan, a Yazidi, a Kurd, an Iraqi, a Somali, or a Palestinian any less an attack 'on all of humanity and the universal values that we share'? What is it exactly that a North American and French share that the rest of humanity are denied sharing?"
Dabashi says, "I declare my sympathy and solidarity with the French; and I do so, decidedly, pointedly, defiantly, as a Muslim."
When Arabs or Muslims die at the hands of the selfsame criminal gangs in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, or Lebanon, they are presumed sectarian denominations, overcoming and camouflaging their humanity.
But when French or British or US citizens are murdered, they become the universal icons of humanity.
Why? Are we Muslims not human? Does the murder of one of us not constitute harm to the entire body of humanity?
I love #PrayForParis, a hashtag that emerged shortly after the Paris attacks. It claims back "faith" from its hijackers who are determined to make it violent and hateful; it allows us all, regardless of ethnicity and beliefs, to unite in hope and peace.
The world has much to learn from the aftermath of 9/11. The "war on terror" has made our world more violent and less secure. We must avoid falling into Isis' "disunity" trap by refraining from using divisive language that isolates Muslims.
European Muslims grieve with France; they must be treated as allies, not enemies. Unity and respect is the only path to peace.
Donna Miles-Mojab is a British-born, Iranian-bred New Zealander.
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