Amid growing concerns about radicalisation, Sunni Muslim groups from across Europe have adopted a charter aimed at easing tensions with non-Muslims. The European Islamic Charter stresses moderation, equality between men and women and rejects violence and terrorism.
It urges Muslims to “integrate positively” into society. Key mover the Brussels-based Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) said more than 400 Muslim groups from 28 countries signed.
FIOE president Shakib Benmakhluf was referring to attacks carried out in the name of Islam when he said: “What happened in Madrid, London or Holland shows that something must be done to stop these people who misunderstand Islam and commit these acts.”
An FIOE spokesman said the signatories represented between a quarter and a fifth of Europe’s Muslim population.
Analysts say some 15-20 million Muslims live in Western Europe, or some five percent of the region’s total population. Brigitte Maréchal is a researcher at Belgium’s Louvain-la-Neuve Catholic University: “The thing to note here is that the FIOE is taking a stand on the European scene. It is a way of saying we are important, we represent a certain number of organisations, we are here.”
The number of Muslims in Europe is projected to double by 2025. Benmakhlouf said: “We are proud to commit the European Muslim community to building a united society where everybody’s rights are respected.”