Yesterday the tenth anniversary of 9/11 was commemorated in New York. Yet the commemorations started more than one week in advance with newspapers, TVs and magazine building up the momentum. There is little need to summarize the incredible amount of special dossiers, reports, commentaries and documentaries which have been written during these days for a tragedy that happened ten years ago. The commemoration of 9/11 is becoming increasingly interactive with questions like: “do you remember 9/11?” or “share your 9/11” and similar collective archiving of personal memories, often shared every year for the past decade. Continue reading
The year 2010 appears to be marked by the ‘war on burqas’ (the Switzerland minarets being an exception). While Belgium has formally moved to ban niqabs and burqas, Italy used regional laws to fine Muslim women using niqabs, and Quebec has imposed a ban for anyone wearing one to enter government places, including hospital and casualty departments (see this article for more information). The majority of European nations, such as France, are still debating the matter. Both politicians and experts recognize that the number of people who wear a face veil (click here to avoid any confusion about them as often happens) on European streets are very few, and in Belgium they are even less than fifty. It would not be so unimaginable to suggest–even starting from my own observations–that today in the west there are more Muslim women wearing miniskirts than face veils.
Opening prayer rooms, mosques, Muslim schools, or even kebab shops is becoming an issue of ‘values’, and I am not referring here to economic ones. The values are often referred to as ‘western values’ and they appear to come in various shapes and colors (Italian, Australian, American, British and so on). Yet all have at least one similarity – feeling threatened by so-called ‘Islamic values’. In other words, much of the current debate on ‘values’ in western countries is today shaped by the rediscovered presence and practices (they have been in the West for centuries) of Muslims living in what an increasing number of people perceive as a sort of secular Christendom. Each day we can discover one place or another claiming to be the last bastion against the ‘Islamization of the West’. Continue reading