Attitudes towards Muslims in Europe

By July 18, 2016

International (MNN) — For the third time in less than two years, France has been rocked by another major terrorist attack. In the fallout of such tragedy, people often turn to hate and anger.

Photo by Michelangelo van Dam via Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/JcDekA

Photo by Michelangelo van Dam via Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/JcDekA

Pew Research Center released a report last week illustrating how negative feelings towards Muslims have grown in Europe particularly this year. This most recent attack no doubt further contributes to the feeling.

Nearly 30-percent of France has an unfavorable view of Muslims. That’s relatively low compared to Hungary’s 72-percent. Their main concern is the impact of refugees on their social system.

But as a whole, those in Europe who take a negative stance towards Muslims tend to look suspiciously on refugees coming from Muslim-majority countries. They view them as a threat.

Fear and mistrust in the wake of the tragedies like the one that took place in Nice, France last week are understandable. Even in times of peace, we tend to fear those we don’t know or understand.

David Curry of Open Doors USA reminds us, “The overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists. It’s just a very small fraction of people compared to those who practice the Islamic faith.”

While most people understand this, there is a growing panic. People want to know who to blame. Separating the moderate Muslims from radicals gets harder to do.

Curry says a lot of the attitude stems from the struggle with understanding the separation between Islam and radicalized theology.

How is it that the actions of the relative few influence attitudes towards the majority who don’t hold to their violent beliefs? Well, that’s the game plan of the radicals. Increasing fear and alienating moderate Muslims from the rest of society can only help extremist groups draw more to the radicalized cause.

“Terrorism is something we have to be exceptionally cautious about,” Curry says. That means on top of looking at practical ways to protect our countries and protect religious freedoms, Christians need to find ways to protect our hearts from being hardened.

He says, “Let’s not be fearful. I don’t think that’s a Christian way to go about it. I don’t think that’s what Jesus called us to do, to be fearful and to be unloving. We need to love, to reach out and to help people.”

Indeed, 1 John 4 urges believers to abide in the love that signifies our place in heaven with God. For this reason, we’re not to fear even death.

Meanwhile, we’re commanded to tell others about this Love.

Curry urges us to get past the political rhetoric and what’s popular, and instead, consider how we can love and serve our neighbor as the hands and feet of Jesus.

Would you pray for France today? Ask God to be a light through the darkness in that country. Pray for our world. Also, ask God to help you love your neighbor and to guide you in Truth.

 

Homepage image by Jorbasa Fotografie via Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/K15x9y

One Comment

  • Christoph says:

    The writer lacks understanding about Europe. This is not just France. grew up about 4 miles away from the French border and just a few 100 yards from Germany in Switzerland. I lived half of my life in Europe and conducts workshop on “Europe.” One of the key reason why many in Western Europe “dislike” Muslims comes from a strong right wing mindset. This is not something new. Integration of foreigners in countries like France, Germany, Switzerland Belgium and others is a two-way street. I was at a beach in Canada yesterday. i saw several ladies in “Muslim bathing suits.” Nobody made a big business, just accepted the fact of multi-culturalism. Not so in Europe. Even as Swiss-Canadians we experienced “dislike” expression as we lived in Switzerland in the mid-90s

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