Multicultural Europe?

By: Andreea Gustin

This week’s sources centered on multiculturalism in Europe. Specifically, the readings highlighted how Europe sees cultural pluralism and mass migration as a threat to its national identity. We’ve seen this theme throughout the course – pure “European-ness” is celebrated and anything that does not fit into that identity is seen as lesser-than and as a threat. What even is European-ness? And why does this notion of superiority still exist in today’s age? 

Nilüfer Göle’s Decentering Europe, Recentering Islam, points out that Muslims belong to Europe in a variety of ways; as original inhabitants, citizens of Europe, converts, migrants, or political candidates. The visibility of Islamic religion in Europe has become a controversial issue in the last three decades, and it has inspired public expressions of resentment and fear, leading to a legislative politics of prohibiting or excluding the religious symbols and practices of Muslims in many European countries. Muslims in Europe have been subject to “othering” and an “us versus them” mentality. We know based off of our discussions of the Jewish population in WW2 that this kind of discourse is highly troubling and dangerous. El-Tayeb’s writings support this idea of Muslims being portrayed as the Other in Europe by focusing on the positionality of queer Muslims.

Based on the sources this week, it becomes clear that “European” identity is actually based off the idea of exclusion. It’s not about who is a part of it, but who is not. These divisive ideas being spread by both citizens and governments across Europe will continue to polarize the continent and continue the historical mistreatment and neglect of minorities.