Progressive and Populist?

In Fatima El-Tayeb’s article she brings up the symbols that have been used to “other” Muslims from what white western Europeans considered to a requirement for immigrating to their country. She looks at how these symbols, particularly the hijab and honour killings are symbols illustrate the repressive and sexist aspects of Islam. That these are viewed as non-European and threaten the values of what it means to be European.  That when immigrating to a (western) Europe they should fully assimilate to these values. El-Tayeb,  focuses on how this is done specifically with Queer Muslims, she writes that they are viewed as having to repress their own sexuality because of the repressiveness of the Islamic faith, and that they can only be liberated from this with the assimilation into European culture.

What is interesting about this, as El-Tayeb points out is how this thinking, while their “investment is…more that doubtful,” by nationalist parties across Europe have used these sentiments to fuel their anti-Islamization of their cities. It goes back to the question posed for these readings: How might progressives as well as populists reinforce similar platforms?  It is interesting that that in Western Europe, the argument being made for anti-Islamization is based off topics like the freedom of expression of sexuality and sexism when it is not typically a stance that nationalist parties focus on, it rather more progressive. There is once again this concept that we see this transnational union of Europe, using minority groups of people that are more inline with the European values (essentially white values). This is done for the purpose of pushing anti-Islamic sentiments. 

This is something that can be seen in the other readings. Nilüfer Göle makes the same connection as El-Tayeb, though it is surrounding the discussion if Turkey should be apart of the EU. He focuses on the use of repression of women through their hijabs, burkas or Niqabs as a reason for illustrating reasons Turkey would not fit among the EU. We see others pulling from progressive ideas, and values to fuel anti-Islam ideas. In Gloria Wekker’s article where through an analysis of emails sent in by white dutch citizens who fight back on the claims that Zwarte Piet is a racist figure. She notes that while those who oppose Zwarte Piet publicly are typically Surinamese, Antilleans, and Africans it is Muslims that the blame gets put on for trying to “change their country.” Here it is seen that progressive protests give an opportunity for the Dutch to critique Muslims and their “inability to assimilate”.

This leaves me with some questions, if progressive stances can reinforce populist platforms what does that say about many of the progressive stances illustrated in these readings? Does it have to do with the fact the Europe is a continent and Islam is a religion, not a designated groups of people? And finally, what does it mean to be European?

Works Cited

Fatima El-Tayeb, “”Gays Who Cannot Properly be Gay.’ Queer Muslims in the Neoliberal European City” European Journal of Women’s Studies 19/1, (2012): 79-95.

Nilüfer Göle, “Decentering Europe, Recentering Islam” New Literary History, Volume 43, Number 4 (Autumn 2012): 665-685.

Gloria Wekkers, “….For Even Though I am Black as Soot, My Intentions are Good”: the Case of Zwarte Piet/Black Pete” in White Innocence. Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race (Duke University Press, 2015), pp. 139-167

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