Thursday, February 16, 2006

Have Europeans Become Fundamentalist as well?

Reading news and reports, interviews and editorial one is surprised to discover how many have defended the caricatures in the name of free speech stubbornly and almost passionately. It seems that no one is concerned that the very same editor refused to publish caricatures of Jesus Christ without his conscience being burdened by limiting "freedom of speech". It also seems that no one can possibly understand what Prophet Mohammad means to millions of Muslims, who are impoverished, forgotten and abused by their governments, struggling daily to survive, have only their faith, their religion, their prophet to provide them with some sense of security, comfort and dignity and most significantly with some hope for a better future.

It seems that Europeans have become fundamentalists as well, that is a sad and new development. Disappointed by Iranians and Encouraged by Americans Europeans have changed course after all. After September 11, European governments achieved a new level of popularity among Arab population. France and Germany opposed invasion of Iraq while EU kept engaging Iran. EU seemed to be advocating cultural change, non-violent approach and diplomatic solution. This resulted in forming a pro-European faction in many countries including Iran, where reformers although disappointed by USA lack of appreciation continued to follow an open foreign policy.

Many North African and Middle Eastern students chose European universities over American ones, which caused their presence in European higher education to increase and the number of applicants to double. For a while there was hope that there is a third wise party to the struggle between Islamic fundamentalism and Christian fundamentalism. Europe understanding and tolerance of Islamic world made possible for many of us to believe the world is not divided into two opposing camps with only one choice: victory or death.

This is not the case anymore. Al Qaedeh, forced to hideouts in USA, shifted its plans to Europe. The names of Madrid and London now echo the sad bloodstained memories of bombings that ended so many innocent lives. Domestic violence intensified when France second generation of Muslim immigrants took to the street their frustration of a society unenthusiastic about their presence. In Iran where so much was hoped and so much was at stake the indecisive reform leadership mismanaged the presidential election so badly, that Iranians found the worst of all conservatives, a fascist, sworn in as the President of the republic.

Europe tolerance and goodwill had brought them bombs, failures and a nuclear headache. Rising oil prices, economic problems and threat of terrorism send home German moderates to bring in another iron lady, one who knew how was it to live under People's Republic. France frustrated by her own domestic issues, disappointed by Iran and worried of its nuclear ambitions changed course too. A fierce critic of invasion of Iraq started to use a tune similar to that of White House regarding Iran. In matter of months Europe the torch of tolerance and peace was no more.

The last drop it seemed to be the cartoons, proud of freedom of speech and committed to protect the free press Europeans reaction to protest was of a different nature. While Muslims asked Europeans to respect the holiness of their prophet, many reacted by considering it as a matter of freedom of speech asking Muslims to respect that. Europe became intolerant of those who do not understand the importance of freedom of speech but do have a clear idea of the respect their prophet deserves. Many used this opportunity to force Europe into black and white picture of this hypothetical conflict of misleading minds and obsessed souls. It seems Europeans are becoming fundamentalist after all, blinded by axioms, ignorant of their goals, unaware of their meaning they are insisting just on following a form achieving nothing helping destruction of all. It is a sad day indeed.

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