When approaching the discourse on “Islam, Europe, and Democracy,” and laying aside apparent understandings and admissions, we are faced with certain observations and questions. A first approach of “Islam, Europe, and Democracy” bears with it a certain consensus. That is, that Islam, as a religious system, with more or less apparent theocratic elements—depending on the countries it dominates and where it is applied, as well as due to its “essentialist” religious and political trajectory in time and sociopolitical process—does not carry with it European values and the imperatives of the West, such as democracy and, consequently, the spirit of Enlightenment. Such values are considered shaped by the European spirit—due to both Christianity and secularism—and produced by the struggles of the French Revolution against religious authority and the tyranny of monarchy. A variety of historical, spiritual, philosophical, and political journeys have yielded a unique heritage for the individual, society, and humanity as well, thereby safeguarding human rights and protecting the individual from the terms and imperatives of a religiously and politically pre-modern communal life. Democracy guarantees that a state functions with elected representatives and that all citizens are equal before the law, irrespective of their sex, color, religious beliefs, and political opinions. Different languages, religions, and cultures are therefore to be respected as equal within the framework of a statutory secular law.
This point gives birth to a multiplicity of questions. Such questions concern not only the national and religious histories of the European states and their different financial status, but also their political past or present.Continue reading