Religious Roots of Contemporary European Identity

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A growing number of churches and other denominational associations came to the fore in Europe's secular public square. Within the context of European integration, the Roman Catholic Church deserves particular attention not merely in terms of its role in the construction of European unity, but also because of its influential, albeit not always publicly agreeable or accepted, positions on Europe's spiritual heritage. Under the pontificate of John Paul II the Church has been acknowledged to have contributed significantly to Europe's unification.

A decade later, after the election of Cardinal Ratzinger to the papacy, the Vatican's preoccupation with Europe has not ceased. This is largely owing to Benedict XVTs outspoken determination to safeguard religious values in Europe's living cultural heritage. This has further fuelled the often controversial debate on the subject in Europe, involving different denominations as well as 1 Lipner offers another interesting use of metaphor in his study of multiple identities of the Hindus. In reference to multiple identities and their hierarchy, see e.

Gillespie , Arguments have touched on a range of issues, from faith foundations to their relevance in contemporary secular Europe. As such, they come to share the destiny of Karol Wojtyla and Joseph Ratzinger, whose contributions to progress in Europe's cohesion have been generally acknowledged.

Yet their emphasis on the foundational values of Europe as a prerequisite to its unity, despite their recognition of its diverse populace, ranked both theologians among 'fundamentalists' with a negative connotation. In a wider context 'fundamentalism' tends to be perceived as a threat to liberal and secular identity. Since the disintegration of the bipolar system of the Cold War era, cultural and religious fundamentalism has arisen among means of establishing ethnic and national identity, and has surfaced in attempts to respond to globalization and European integration.

As seen above, it is facile to reduce 'fundamentalism' into simply a negative phenomenon. The same applies to globalization. Two positive effects of globalization that serve as a background to the discussion in this book are the growth of a knowledge-based society4 and the increasing elimination of communication barriers. With these in mind, this book explores to what extent there is scope for a constructive coexistence and inclusiveness in Europe.

This requires the empowerment of individuals with composite identities that are directly or indirectly affected by religion. Such familiarity is one of the essential prerequisites for an informed discourse and a constructive intercultural exchange, if they are to confront effectively the re-emergence of religious, nationalist and other ideological extremisms.

The framework of empowerment and freedom would be incomplete without responsibilities that set an additional precondition for social action, such as the transformation of Europe into a more adequate common platform for constructive social interaction. Silvestri elsewhere in this volume. A comparison of his current works referred to elsewhere in this volume with some of his older writings on themes relevant to this study shows his long-term quest to rethink the absence of spiritual values in Europe's secularism in the context of its unity; see, e.

Since the time of his writing, further progress has been made under the leadership of Commissioner Jan Figel', in the development of a common European educational space, which could be the Union's future fourth 'pillar'. Introduction 3 B. Constitution-building in Europe One of the key tasks for the improvement of a common platform is to ensure progress on Europe's constitution, a process in which the Treaty on the European Constitution hereafter referred to as the Constitution Treaty is but a building-block.

With the failure to adopt the Constitution at the first attempt, it is clear that this process requires the wider engagement of Europe's polity on all levels. The development of the European Constitution in particular and of a constitution for the transformation of Europe in wider terms is an all-embracing process of social interaction. Some key decisions will inevitably lie in the hands of policy-makers before they resubmit the document to public scrutiny and approval. Ultimately though, it is the developmental stage of the Constitution, involving the polity rather than its final vote of approval, that can produce a legitimate result with which Europeans would be able to identify.

Public engagement in this process cannot be limited to protests - whether peaceful or violent - or electoral expressions. The call for individual responsibility and participation in public affairs should not rest on the shoulders of Europe's political leaders and intellectuals, but needs to be ingrained in the wider strata of society. A comparison with referenda on the Maastricht Treaty comes to mind in the context of the destiny of the European Constitution Treaty.

Nielsen in his case study of Denmark and the voting on Maasstricht addresses some key problems in communication between the European institutions and the electorate. The Danish cartoon crisis illustrates how easily a non-violent protest can trigger extreme and often violent reactions. A legitimate effort to preserve freedom of expression on the part of the Danes seems to have failed to take into account the possible consequences, moreover at the time of heightened sensitivity over the encounter between the West and Islam.

Equally though, it is regrettable that a religious belief - in any religion - would lead its adherents to extreme and violent reaction, including killing. An example of the immense influence of some intellectuals on the public assumption of responsibility, combining its religious and secular understanding, is the adaptation to the Slovak conditions in the s of views of the older generation of neoconservatives, such as Michael Novak e. Novak Daniel Philpott, who is repeatedly referred to in this volume, is an example of an academic frequently leaving the 4 Lucia Faltin among those best placed to facilitate this process not merely in their specific setting, but within the wider context of secular society.

The combination of a value-based and practical approach has been the foundation stone for the Union. The recent enlargement has opened up a new era in which such a combination of approaches comes again more significantly to the forefront of further integration efforts. The current European Union was founded as a response to the need to enhance the socio-economic security of post-war Europe. The prominent contribution of Christian Democrats among the 'founding fathers' has brought valuebased principles into a liberalistic realm of thought and practice in socioeconomic interaction and constitution.

Legislative developments reflect the complexity of this process, as social identification with legal principles is inseparable from constitution-building. By the fifth wave of its enlargement, the Union was able to accommodate the largest number so far of member states at one time. Most of the new members were countries with an immature experience of democracy compared to that of the older member states.

In addition to their ability to, inter alia, harmonize their legal norms with the EU, those member states whose entry into the Union dates to the fifth and sixth enlargement waves have brought with them fresh experience in constructing democratic constitutions, from legislation and institutionbuilding to the development of civil society.

Overcoming some fundamental challenges of constructing a new socio-economic order after the demise of communism required an ability to devise, test and implement legal principles and institutions that underpin democratic systems. The process also witnessed a difficult balancing between historical memory and tradition in the formation of post-communist national identity.

The lack of experience on the part of the reformers was combined with additional challenges, such as frequent counter-reformation attempts, comfort of academia to engage actively in reconciliation processes across the globe. People like him and Novak have significantly contributed to the growth of leaders in Slovakia's civil society, which has led to the removal of the country's nationalist authoritarian regime in and her return to the European integration process, culminating in EU membership in He contrasts the European and US legal processes of the incorporation of conventions of human rights by showing the institutional role of the US electorate in 'defining the balance between individual rights and collective moral preferences' Ignatieff , Gillespie ,40 offers a useful analysis of 'constitutional conventions of justification that underpin Western constitutional theory and practice, but which have usually been betrayed or disregarded as it evolved'.

Introduction 5 often with high popular support and appeal. In such circumstances, none of the reformers - political or other leaders, as well as the then fledgling civil society - would have succeeded without a sense of responsibility and perseverance nourished by motivation. The European Union has just experienced its sixth wave of enlargement, which embodies much of the fruit of the reformers' labour in the two new member states. This, however, is not a fait accompli. With the admission of Romania and Bulgaria, the Union extended its external borders, and thus widened its internal space, opening itself up to a further degree of migration.

Perhaps more importantly in terms of the Union facing the challenge of deeper social integration, the accession of the two new member states has brought with it a socio-cultural experience and practice of Christian Orthodoxy. This is of major significance not merely for the Union's internal cohesion, but also in terms of its relationship with its neighbours, particularly Russia as a large state with a complex geopolitical outreach, and Ukraine with its aspirations for EU membership.

Furthermore, the Ottoman heritage of the newly acceded region is not merely kept alive through its Muslim minority, but is also present in their administrative and legal traditions. To paraphrase Silvestri's point elsewhere in this volume, the coexistence of different ethnic and religious communities in Europe and the demands for the Union's integration challenge the established value systems and practices not merely at European but equally at a national level. This phase by no means creates a vacuum in further European integration. On the contrary, it is vitally needed to enhance the Union's cohesion.

Apart from the 'technical' tasks of restructuring its institutions and procedures, the major challenge lies in the deepening of its integration. It is likely that 'technocrats' and ideologues will, more than in the recent decades, work again in close partnership, as was the case in the times of Europe's 'founding fathers'. A balance between the 12 With reference to an earlier historical context, Ratzinger , offers a reflection on some aspects of human motivation, by considering why the East Germans desired to emigrate to the West In addition to the desire to escape the regime, people also have the need to free themselves from the one and only reality which is imposed on them.

In the East, at the time, it is the grey reality of socialism. Yet the need to reach beyond the daily reality is also experienced in the West, as 'all diversions and sensations are vain when they claim to be the whole. The loss of transcendence evokes the flight to utopia. I am convinced that the destruction of transcendence is the actual amputation of human beings from which all sicknesses flow. The current 'technical' structure of the Union is no longer adequate to accommodate its growing diversity. Equally, ideological nostalgia such as secular- or religion-inspired exclusivism can turn ideologues into 'ideocrats', with a consequent move towards totalitarianism.

A failure by either the 'technocrats' or the ideologues to recognize the other's vital presence in the dialogue would create a gulf between the much-needed realism and the idealism, and jeopardize progress in further European integration.


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As the constitutional process acquires a new momentum, the public role of ideologues that address integration will increase. Europe is thus due to face further heated debates and conflicts. This inevitability derives from a combination of three factors: 1 the presence of diverse identities in the face of growing European and global mobility; 2 the limited ability of public systems and structures to enforce a constructive identification with Europe; 3 Europe's emphasis on harmonization rather than homogenization, a choice that is determined by the still fresh memory of two totalitarian systems of the twentieth century: fascism and communism.

Europe - not merely the EU, but, given the growing interconnectedness, its entire polity - is the place of multiple identities on all levels, from individual, to communal, national, transnational and supranational. Increasing interaction between peoples has brought a greater awareness of the complexity of one's own identities. This often leads to confusion and the fear of a loss of personal or communal security. Coupled with the often conflicting demands for participation in complex socio-economic structures, such conditions trigger a defensive reaction leading to self-reassessment.

All too often, an attempt for reassertion is aided by a choice by an individual, group, community, or nation of one particular identity, leading to further exclusion and limitations on one's ability to interact constructively in the public square. Such a clash of identities, however, is an inevitable part of social coexistence.

In contemporary Europe, which is undeniably one of the major reasons that global transformation and interaction are advancing at an unprecedented speed, this clash assumes a heightened amplitude and public manifestation. Europe's constitution is changing in response to all these developments. The European Union alone, through its symbols, leaders and institutions, cannot be the sole 'guide to the perplexed'.

Equally, through the appropriate symbolization of positive historical developments, the Union can provide a positive public motivation for further integration. Introduction 7 marked, in March , the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome. It is symbolic that the celebrations will be held under the German Presidency of the Council. As Mach argues elsewhere in this volume, symbols are an important element in the construction of identity. One can draw symbolism, secular as well as religious, from the current German Presidency.

Together with its European partners Germany has resumed work on the development of the European Constitution through extended public consultation. It is Germany that, after its disillusionment at the rejection of the Treaty,16 has reactivated an effort to unify Europe further, not through conquest, but through cooperation. The Europe that is still coming to terms with the memory of fascism and communism is now led by the twice-unified Germany that has experienced some of the worst aspects of totalitarian regimes and the consequent challenges of democratic transformation.

The acceptance of the leadership of Germany in the renewed drafting of the Constitution Treaty is possible because of Europe's willingness to come to terms with its own past and a determination to create a common constitutional platform to accommodate Europe's diverse identities. The eventual adoption of the European Constitution will mark a significant progress in this process. The Constitution as a document embodying a set of agreed principles will be nothing more than another symbol of the Union, unless it can be embedded in and supported by Europe's systemic arrangement.

The Constitution cannot be the panacea for Europe's diverse, often conflicting, identities. To paraphrase Wright, Kapralski and other contributors to this volume - identities are living phenomena carrying within themselves, among other components, history and tradition. Religion can play a constructive role in the constitutional process, not merely in social but also in legal terms. One of the most obvious areas is concordance of religious laws and secular legislation across Europe.

One of the difficulties in the enforcement of human rights internationally has been an inability to apply the principles within a local context without subjecting them to relativist speculation. Another difficulty lies in the inevitable imbalance between rights and responsibilities to the detriment of the latter. This imbalance has arisen for a 16 If we were to look for a historical precedent, Laffan ,7 gives an interesting analogy by suggesting that the rejections of Maastricht undermined Europe's confidence in integration.

In connection with the Constitution Treaty, its rejections coincided with the Union's eastward enlargement. While the rejections caused a shock to policy-makers, the confidence in integration was not severely undermined. As seen by the agenda of the German Presidency, the resolve to progress with the Treaty has also proven to be uncompromised as was, after all, the case with Maastricht.

These include the changing geopolitical circumstances, and the internationalization of human rights to a degree that local legal and political systems are unable to identify with the concepts of human rights that have been generated in the Euro-Atlantic realm. Another factor is the lack of emphasis upon responsibilities that is outbalanced by an accentuation of liberties, which translate into rights. Despite the undeniable benefits of conventions on human rights, the aforementioned factors pose a major problem for their more effective implementation and enforcement.

The emphasis on values, with little or no mention of responsibilities, continues to resonate in political declarations of the Union's leadership, such as the one by the current Presidency: The European Union is a community of shared values. The inviolability of human dignity, the right to life and the prohibition of the death penalty, the right to integrity and the prohibition of torture, freedom of thought, conscience and religion and much more: the rights which young people in the west of Europe today enjoy as part of everyday life were not enjoyed by earlier generations.

It´s Secular Because It´s Christian: Europe Seeks its Identity Card

After the painful experiences of national socialism or communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe, respect for fundamental rights first had to be established as a standard. Politically correct language that spares the public from a clear division of roles turns this, an otherwise important statement, into a mere wish-list. It is clear by now that no progress will be achieved without taking into account the religious positions and their relevance to Europe's secular constitution, if it is not to be seen as a threat to the national and religious 18 Ratzinger argues that from the eighteenth century, European legal systems perceived themselves increasingly as 'potentially universal' , freeing themselves from Christian foundations and pursuing the law of reason of the Enlightenment Perceived eventually as Godless such as by Islam, viewing them from the perspective of ethnic and religious unity , 'they seem like an attack that is both ethnic and religious.

Useful case studies of local implementations of human rights from a religious, namely Catholic, perspective are in Ruston Rather than granting and implementing rights, the communist practice emphasized and enforced the responsibility of 'subjects' to the regime. Introduction 9 sovereignty of the citizens of Europe. A precedent can be found, albeit in a different time and constitutional setting, in the neoconservative movement in the United States in the s and s, when the Jewish and Christian exchange on concepts of polity, constitution, security and economy helped shape a largely secular domestic and foreign policy agenda.

Europe is responding to its rapidly changing internal and international circumstances. The response is embodied in an effort to balance the varying components of the coexistence of its diverse populace. As homogenization is not a way forward, in Europe divided we reign. Europe's polity needs to come to terms with this reality and accept a responsibility to contribute to the equilibrium that will enable the progressive coexistence of identities and support the realization of their needs. As Ratzinger suggests, 'only if the concept "Europe" represents a synthesis of political realism and moral idealism can it become a force that will leave its mark on the future'.

The idea that the whole of history up till now has been a history of the lack of freedom and that now at last and soon the just society can and must be built [.. These include identifying an effective tool for motivation in order to enhance a sense of responsibility for public affairs. Despite global interconnectedness and Europe's role in it, the time is ripe for Europe to look inwards. This is not a call for isolationism. On the contrary, Europe's enhanced ability to balance its history, tradition and identity seems to reflect an effective cooperation of diverse partners within Europe and beyond.

Thematic structure of the book Identity or, more appropriately, identities are examined within the wider context of shared values, reaching beyond a particular faith or nonreligious framework. In addition to general considerations in some chapters, a number of chapters use case studies. Poland, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom provide the locus for case studies that assess the role of religion in the development of national, communal and transnational identities and their contribution to European integration.

The effect of Islam and of Russian and Greek Orthodoxy in shaping Europe's identity are discussed in the light of deeper integration within Europe, and the Union's relations with her neighbours and other nonmember states. The analysis of the religious roots of Europe's identity today pays particular attention to the secular context of religious communities. Europe is perceived as secular by most of its citizens, regardless of their creed. Bearing this in mind, the authors build upon their expertise in different fields of the arts and humanities to identify some of the key elements of the European religious heritage and its manifestation in Europe's identity, be it secular or otherwise.

The analysis involves a multi- and interdisciplinary approach to the theme, including history, religious studies, sociology, cultural studies, European studies, and international relations. The book outlines points of convergence and areas of constructive potential for the encounter of identities, thus suggesting ways in which religion might not be a stumbling-block to further European integration, but one of its constructive engines.

As such, the volume complements some of the recent work that covers the wider area of religion and contemporary Europe, particularly Byrnes and Katzenstein. Their attention is on the as yet penultimate enlargement wave, and for the most part they do not address the question of religion. The focus on religion in this volume as one of the factors that continues to affect social behaviour in cultural integration also complements Williams et al. This volume presents a collection of essays by academics, policymakers and other practitioners who are involved, in various capacities, in interfaith relations.

The choice of contributors was primarily determined by the discussion and cooperation between them over the past years on aspects of interfaith, mostly Jewish-Christian, relations and their dynamics particularly in contemporary Europe. The contributions cannot be fully representative of the topic addressed, but offer a specific 26 Byrnes and Katzenstein This publication received a major impulse from a conference held as a part of the Conversation series of the Centre for Research into Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities of the University of Cambridge.

By the time it is published, the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue will be well under way as will, hopefully, be progress in the European Constitution. This volume should still be able to contribute to relevant debates surrounding both projects. Given the frequent focus on particular events, places and concerns throughout the book, the currency of argument, rather than proving ephemeral, will hopefully become a source material for students in European history and the development of ideas.

Sara Silvestri focuses on coexistence between Muslims and nonMuslims in Europe by offering a historical overview of their relationship and an analysis of eight key challenges to their contemporary coexistence. She concludes that the main threat to Europe brought about by the resurgence of an Islamic presence is the challenge to Europe's conventional understanding of power, justice and related structures. Melanie Wright further advances the focus on Islam. Through an analysis of Udayan Prasad's film My Son the Fanatic, she subjects the concepts of religious roots to a critical scrutiny.

Arguing that the image of root proves static and hierarchical, she considers the figure of the rhizome to accommodate better the changing contemporary identities. Penny Mittler offers an additional interpretation of the rhizome metaphor to study 'hidden solidarities' in nineteenth-century Florence and to offer parallels to contemporary subsidiarity. Focusing on the issue of immigrants, she shows their development locally and their formation of transnational connections.

Both Wright and Mittler discuss respectively multiculturalism and tolerance in a diverse society, and question the long-term viability of liberalism's current formations as solutions to Europe's ever-changing communities and their identities. Philippe Gardette opens a part in the volume focusing on Eastern Orthodoxy. He takes a historical overview of Jewish-Greek Orthodox relations to suggest that the connection between Orthodoxy and politics can serve as a critical mediator between the Euro-American realm and the Near East.

Irina Levinskaya focuses on the Russian Orthodox Church and assumes a more sceptical view of its mediation potential in the context of European integration. She argues that the ideology and practice of the Russian Orthodox Church remains rooted in the past. The past is thus idealized and the Church, rather than developing, actually stagnates. She suggests that a search for a new identity that would embrace Sie roots of tradition along with liberal values requires a radical change in approach.

Grant White analyses the positions on identity and modernity of the official representations of the Russian Orthodox Church to European institutions. This offers another illustration of transnational religious and national identity formation, complementing the Mittler study. Stawomir Kapralski's chapter opens a part of this volume that looks at the interaction between history, memory and identity in the Polish context. Kapralski focuses on the interaction between the post-communist Polish identity and Holocaust memory. Similarly to AmbrosewiczJacobs, he argues that a decade of memory work has so far failed to achieve an acceptance of the reality of Polish-Jewish relations among the general populace.

He understands memory as a dynamic, constructed, situational and currently polycentric phenomenon. Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs focuses on the historical memory of young Poles to discuss Holocaust education as a tool for collective memory construction in post Poland. Identifying a number of educational initiatives, she shows the positive effect of cooperation between different social actors. She admits, along with Kapralski, that their success in developing space for an integrated community memory remains to be proven.

Zdzislaw Mach, concluding the focus on Poland, discusses the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the social and cultural transformation in Poland. He examines its position in the light of identity construction through symbols and contrasting inter-group images. In contrast with Morrow's view of the current Pope, Mach argues that the Church, at least in Poland, by adhering to its communist-era discourse, has failed to adjust to the challenges of democracy and the European integration of post-communist democracies. Updating their positions for the contemporary era, Lycka argues that, without a sense of spiritual unity, the practical attempt to integrate Europe by setting top-down norms proves ineffective, as seen by the failure to adopt a European Constitution.

Andrew Brown, in contrast to White's picture of a top-down identity construction, shows how the local tradition of the Unitarians, particularly the Czech RCSU, having avoided exclusivism, has created a theology that served as a basis for the formation of transnational identities for one of Europe's smaller religious groups. He discusses the relevance of religious roots to contemporary Europe. He argues that, in terms of interfaith relations, Benedict XVI is not a fundamentalist or reactionary, but an inclusivist with a particularly open approach to Judaism.

Paul Kerry, furthering Lycka's and Morrow's analysis, discusses the effect of the study of faith and religion on modern historiography and the philosophy of history. He suggests that, as shown in the dispute over the preamble to the European Constitution, one of the difficulties in conceptualizing Europe's past is an Introduction 13 understanding of human motivation. He therefore calls for further study of faith and reason in historiography. Stanislaw Krajewski, expanding Kerry's conclusions, outlines some key elements that need to be considered in the development of an as yet absent philosophy of interreligious dialogue.

In the light of the difficulty over defining religion, he turns to tradition as a diachronic living experience that can pave a pathway to dialogue. An interreligious dialogue then becomes a dialogue between representatives of traditions as key identity components. Within the context of the debate over a European Constitution, he addresses the mutual suspicion between secular humanists and believers, who fear that the privatization of religion will destroy the roots of European identity.

This, he argues, may ultimately lead to the obliteration of the latter. Does Islam Challenge European Identity? Sara Silvestri A. Introduction Discussing Islam in contemporary Europe presents several challenges at multiple levels, both for the expert and for the layperson. This chapter highlights and elaborates on eight main challenges that Islam appears to pose to Europe and vice versa. However, before delving into this it is necessary to take a step backward and look at how European identity has evolved in relation to the culture and religion of Islam throughout history.

In the face of a renewed expansion and assertion of Islam, both in the so-called 'Muslim world' and in the 'West', in the twenty-first century, these questions acquire renewed salience and intensity. However, before tackling the current relationship between Europe and Islam it is necessary to understand how 'Europe' is conceptualized by Europeans and to consider traditional and critical approaches to the meaning of EU identity. It actually contributed to producing an intellectual attitude of 'fascinated distrust' towards Islamic society, which then engendered Orientalism.

Asad ; Kumar Hence, we can join the chorus of those who affirm that the traditional religious physiognomy of Europe is Christianity. Asserting the crucial contribution made by Christianity to European identity does not mean entering the debate over the Christian legacy of Europe as opposed to the Islamic one. Whether Christianity was the only one or one of several religious and cultural traditions that influenced Europe; whether Europe is still Christian or not; and to what extent the Islamic culture made a crucial contribution to the development of science and philosophy in Europe are all important matters that are worth discussing.

RIEPILOGO ORDINE DI DONAZIONE

However, they are not relevant to the point I intend to make here, and which can be summarized with Madeley's words: 'Europe's historic association with Christianity is itself unambiguous and strong' and its degree of secularization has never 'become so comprehensive as to obliterate the Christian stripe in European culture'. We should not forget, for instance, that the much-respected universities of Oxford and Cambridge were established as religious Christian institutions in the first instance. A renowned laico secularist , the former President of the Italian Senato high chamber of parliament even co-authored a book with Cardinal Ratzinger; it is entitled Senza Radici.

Indeed, historically and culturally, Islam 4 Croce ; Nielsen ; Kumar For a comparatively short time, until the expulsion of the Arabs from Spain in , Muslim civilizations did thrive in some European regions Sicily and Spain mainly and Muslim culture has indeed influenced the development of European knowledge in the sciences and arts, from philosophy, to architecture, to the natural sciences, and so on.

However, after that experience, Europe did not absorb Islamic values or laws into its social and juridical system. Rather, it was Christian teaching that remained the frame of reference and determined the production of European thought, culture and social structures. Even during the Enlightenment period the secularist intellectual discourse was developed in relation - as an opposition - to Christianity. Therefore, as a result of a series of historical, cultural, psychological and juridical developments, the institutional, legal and societal configuration of twenty-first-century Europe indicates that Islam has in fact weak links with Europe.

These weak links are due partly to specific characteristics of Islam as a religion, and also to its history, and to the way it is structured. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the EU is a 'far-ranging political, economic, and cultural experiment', whose identity and future remain undefined, although the 'initial and prime objective of "Europe" as a political and economic conception is to ensure peace - an objective it shares with Kant's cosmopolitan order'.

However, it has become difficult - and some deem it inappropriate - to ask what the current and future identity of Europe should be. Pagden , 2, 7. Passerini ; Elbe Passerini , Kumar , Strath , Pagden ,1. Strath , 76, Evidence of these divisions can be found in the debates about the wars in Bosnia and Iraq in the s and at the beginning of the new century. The enlargement of the EU that of May was the largest in its history , accompanied by the practical need to reform its institutions and functioning mechanisms, has accentuated the need to clarify the EU's objectives and identity.

Increasing immigration into the EU and the consequent expansion of Islam in the region, especially in the course of the s, have intensified this need. Finally, the urgency to demarcate the EU's cultural identity along with its borders became even more manifest with the candidature of Turkey to EU membership.

Although Turkey became a constitutionally secular republic in , and adopted a strict separation between the religious and the public sphere, culminating in the abolishment of the institution of the Caliphate in , the country is still regarded as culturally Muslim and is a prestigious and very active member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference OIC , the intergovernmental body founded in which claims to represent the interests of and speak on behalf of the world's Muslim ummah. All these factors create the impression that the country is susceptible to the infiltration of an Islamist discourse.

In simple terms, Islamism - also called Political Islam - can be defined as the interpretation and use of religion for political purposes. Islamism is therefore both different from and connected to Islam as a religion. This political theology originated in North Africa at the beginning of the twentieth century and soon spread to the Middle East and Asia. Islamism borrows its driving reasons, symbols and language from Islam in order to theorize a variety of degrees and methods of political mobilization and to bring about Islamization and social change.

In certain extreme cases Islamist thinkers and militants have justified political violence. Elsewhere I have outlined various stages, during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, when Europe encountered and confronted the spectre of violence stemming from political Islam. Eight Islamic challenges to Europe 1.

Multiple Islams The first challenge is a matter of terminology: 'what Islam' are we talking about? And whom do we mean by 'Muslims'? There are many 19 Kepel Even in a same given 'Muslim' area it is possible to find a multiplicity of versions of Islam. So, in any discussion of Islam it is important to be aware from the outset that we should not essentialize, that Islam is a fragmented entity and that perhaps one of the major challenges is indeed internal to this religion; it is the tension between the universal meaning of Islam and the plurality of its diverse and often diverging inflections.

There are major differences, for instance, not only between Sunnism and Shiism but also within each of these traditions, between Wahhabism and Deobandism for example. The characteristics that differentiate Muslims in the Muslim states are perhaps even more visible when they migrate into Europe because, when all these individuals are transplanted from Asia, from North Africa, from the Gulf, and so on, they end up constituting microcosms that coexist within Europe.

Maybe they interact but do not really merge. People might live at a very short distance from each other, and yet perhaps not be communicating with each other. In fact people still socialize, worship and form organizations primarily along national, ethnic, or linguistic lines. There are, for instance, mosques where people speak Arabic, because they are attended by Muslims of Arab origin; there are mosques where people speak Urdu, because their constituency comes from South Asia; or there are Turkish-speaking mosques and associations. Dynamics of rivalry are not infrequent among the multifarious components of the European ummah.

Terrorism and violence The second, obvious challenge with which Islam is often identified consists in the threat to security and to global order represented by religiously inspired violence, namely the so-called 'Islamist terrorism'. My take on this issue is that this phenomenon has to do with the manipulation of religious principles and that the motivations and dynamics behind it should not be seen as deriving from anything evil or perverse inherent in the message of Islam.

Hence, academic and policy responses to it should call this threat for what it is: violence and terrorism. We live in a world where dissatisfaction with the social and political order is widespread and palpable.


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  • The symbolic language of Islam simply offers powerful tools to articulate anger and displacement. In this sense the dynamics of attraction to and engagement in this form of 'religiously inspired' an expression which I am normally very reluctant to use political violence should not be very different from the involvement in any extremist ideology. We should also consider, as Roy , Sageman , Gray and other experts of radical Islam and criminologists argue, that the violence carried out in the name of Islam is fully part of modernity. More generally, I would add that such violence falls in a general stream of violence - externalized in various ways, which include alcohol and drug abuse, street crime, bullying, suicide, school massacres, and so on - which affects a particular age Does Islam Challenge European Identity?

    A recent study on the problems of twentyfirst-century British youth seems to confirm this general tendency to violence caused by a multiplicity of factors. True, the opponents of Islam could at this point raise the thorny issue of Islam's factual relationship with violence in the history of the religion itself. This deserves some reflection here. It also leads on to a set of questions I find myself facing more and more frequently when talking about this topic, especially with people, including highly educated ones, who are not expert in the field.

    These questions are: 'Does Islam pose a moral problem to Europe and to the West? Doesn't it justify violence? If it does, then, doesn't this pose Islam explicitly in opposition to the message of love and forgiveness that is at the heart of Christianity - a notion which in turn has largely formed the way we reason about peace and war in the West?

    From this point of view, Islam has been exploited for earthly ends no more and no less than Christianity has for many centuries. However, differently from Jesus, Muhammad did create a political community in a particular part of the world and, at some point, did engage in physical war. And here comes the paradox. If Islam means indeed 'peace', unity and harmony between God and humankind, as its supporters keep emphasizing at a time when they are criticized from all sides, what most people have trouble with is reconciling this idea with the battles fought by the Prophet against the pagan and Jewish tribes that would not accept his rule.

    The core message of Islam is enshrined in the Quran but an important source is also the 'exemplary' life of Muhammad, which is summed up in the hadith. For this reason for Muslims it is difficult to be critical of the deeds of the Prophet, even when his actions entailed violence, whereas it is possible to discharge certain social and political realities of the Muslim world as the product of human hence imperfect, corrupt actions.

    Muslims would often find a relatively satisfactory answer to this dilemma of the presence of violence in Islam by emphasizing that Muhammad was not a god or the son of God; God showed him the right peaceful path but since the Prophet was a human among humans in certain situations he had no other option but to fight, but this was not the preferential option to take. After this very condensed excursus in the history and theology of Islam I do not have any presumption to have reconciled us with the problem of the presence 21 Cf. Margo et al Immigration Third, to most Europeans Islam equals immigration simply because the largest numbers of immigrants who arrived into the EU over the past four decades originate from countries where Islam is the predominant belief if not the official faith e.

    Algeria, Morocco, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey. The literature about immigration and the consequent social transformations connected with the interaction between different races and faiths in Europe is already so vast that there is no need to expand on this point. The 'securitization' of immigration policies25 which became visible in the European Union EU member states at the close of the twentieth century is a clear example of that phenomenon and was only accentuated and accelerated - not provoked in thefirstinstance - by incidents of 'Islamic' terrorism.

    The shifting meanings of religion and of secularism The fourth challenge of Islam to Europe has to do with incorporating a 'thick7 but multifarious religion27 in a secular society which is not static and not monolithic either. This calls for an analysis not only of the meaning of religion and of secularism in Europe but of the evolving relationship between the two.

    Within Europe itself, there are multiple, competing interpretations of the degree and form of separation that should exist between the religious private and the public sphere where politics takes place. For instance, the Enlightenment philosophy and the Revolution left a very strong mark in France, where one cannot really bring up religion in the public sphere, and one cannot wear religious symbols in state buildings such as schools.

    Conversely in the case of Italy, the country's historical contacts with the Catholic Church and the presence of the Vatican on its soil have definitely marked the way in which Italian society relates to religious communities and has led to particular privileges being given to the Catholic Church. In the UK, although there is an established religion the Church of England , historical developments have impacted on the country in such a way that Britain is now one of the most secularized countries in Europe.

    Beyond the perception of the 'Islamic threat', Europeans seem to be scared of the religious factor per se. They are shocked by a reassertion of identity and by a political participation that takes place along religious lines. There is a discrepancy in European attitudes to religion which seems to reflect a crisis of identity. On the one hand, there is renewed appetite for a religious dimension among some Europeans, testified by the growth of New Age groups, the spread of Oriental religions, the increasing numbers of conversions to Islam, and by a proliferation of TV and radio programmes on, and of newspaper coverage of, religious affairs.

    On the other hand, European society is suspicious of people practising religion and is unable to cope with a religious dimension that transgresses the private sphere and becomes public and embraces the social and political sphere. The Muslim public assertion of belief through visible signs and specific group claims seems to shake the very foundations of the secularized, though diverse, Western context. It demands an official role - be it controversial, scandalous, or dignified - for religion in the European public sphere.

    Ironically, Islam reasserts its place in the Western context by appealing to those liberal principles of freedom and fundamental rights that over the last two centuries had served to take away the power of religious institutions and affirm the centrality of the individual and the self-determination of minorities.

    Berger Davie ; Byrnes and Katzenstein Soysal ; Kymlicka ; Lyons and Mayall This is particularly evident if we observe the current drive towards tire institutionalization of Islam in Europe. Yet, this increasing institutionalization of Islam goes hand in hand with a multiplication of Islamic viewpoints and experiences. These partly derive from theological, historical and ethnicor cultural-specific variations of Islam. However, they also more and more often derive from competition between Muslim individuals, political leaders, religious scholars and movements for the control of the communities and the official representation of the faith before Western secular authorities as well as before other faiths.

    Hence, interacting with the European context exposes more than ever the internal fractures that exist within Islam and the consequent lack of clear leadership. I will expand on the juridical implications of this situation in the paragraphs below. Before, however, it is important to highlight another factor that renders Islam 'suspicious' to Europe: the transnational character of this faith.

    The global ummah and the political dimension of Islam Despite their doctrinal fragmentation, Muslims throughout the world identify with the 'global community7 of the believers in Islam, the ummah, and share the theological point that being a Muslim is an allencompassing life experience. The corollaries are that religion din cannot be divorced from politics dawla and that the only true sovereignty and law are those of God. The interpretation of these points in the holy scriptures has determined the acceptance or the rejection of concepts such as democracy and human rights by Islamic thinkers and movements.

    Reflection on the practical application of Islamic political theology has generated various forms of Islamism throughout history. In a few cases it has led to the creation of or attempt to create religion-based polities. Contemporay Iran and Saudi Arabia constitute two evident examples. What is important to note is that these theological notions give Muslims enormous symbolic strength, communal identity and potential to unite for common causes.

    In the early twenty-first century this global identity is reinforced and articulated through the Internet and through involvement in civil society as well as in terrorist networks. Yet, whereas the Christian churches were 'nationalized' throughout the centuries in Europe, Islam remains 'loose', very much based on the relationship that the individual 32 Cf.

    Silvestri forthcoming. Esposito Roy ; Eickelmann and Piscatori ; Mandaville This fluidity of Islamic identity coupled with the disconnection of this religion from Western statecentred views can induce people to see Islam as a treacherous ideology that aims to defy and subvert the status quo. Islamist and terrorist networks whose ambition is to cleanse society from corruption and to establish a God-fearing Islamic polity, the Caliphate, under Sharia law obviously reinforce this fear.

    Enlarging Europe to the Muslim world In turn, discussing issues of state sovereignty and citizens' loyalty in relation to the transnational character of Islam inevitably leads us to look at another big test for Europe: the prospect of enlarging as far as to include countries with considerable numbers of Muslims in their populations, such as Turkey or Bulgaria.

    According to unofficial estimates Muslims are respectively 98 and 13 per cent of the population in these two countries. In the years at the turn of the millennium, a wealth of publications appeared on the topic of Turkey and its relations to Islam and to Europe. It is nevertheless important to highlight that the repeated mantra revolves around the Turkish exceptionalism: the republic has strict French-styled secular institutions which nevertheless control mosques' leadership and the teaching of the Islamic faith both domestically and abroad through the diyanet, a sort of Ministry for Religious Affairs.

    Hence, the alarming message that is spreading in Europe is the following: Turkey is going through a process of re-Islamization despite its secular constitution. Accepting Turkey into the EU means accepting that potentially this phenomenon can start in Europe too. For their part, Turkish Muslims should be prepared to reconsider their religiosity in a secular European environment that is significantly different from the current Turkish secular context.

    Hence there is a need to carefully consider the meaning of secularism and of religion both in Europe and in Turkey. Lack of institutions and leadership The global and fluid dimension of the Islamic identity coupled with the fragmentation and lack of clear leadership, authority and hierarchy in this religion are all issues that constitute a seventh problematic point. Both the European establishment and Muslims living in Europe are faced 35 E. Silvestri a. This problem goes beyond the mere application of the principle of freedom of religion.

    It has to do with group rights and also with the legal status that Islam should have in the complex historically established pattern of 'churchstate' relations in Europe. Various law experts, as well as myself, have expanded more in detail on this topic. The strategies adopted to reach this objective are essentially two. One is that of creating, ex novo, Muslim institutions based on an already existing traditional pattern of church-state relations which derives from the historically dominant role of the Christian churches in Europe.

    These new Muslim institutions normally have a representative and consultative role, are called 'national Muslim councils' and tend to claim legitimacy by referring to the Islamic idea of ijma consultation. This latter pragmatic strategy, which is clearly dictated by the market laws of contemporary policy-making, has proved rather successful. In both cases, though, it is evident that whatever tactic of mobilization Muslims adopt, they will tend to adapt it to the mainstream discourse and to the conventional mechanisms of interaction with the state.

    These principles affirm the inviolable rights of individuals to life, freedom and full realization of their potentialities.

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    Freedom is expressed both as a negative freedom — a protection of human rights against abuse of power, or as a positive freedom — the right of citizens to participate in the formation of the common will. Equality was initially defined as equality of rights and duties of citizenship and equal treatment by law but soon became also equality of opportunity and of chances for life, thus opening the way for progressive liberalism, social democracy and welfare policies, inspired by the third principle of modern revolutions — fraternity and solidarity — and constituted an essential component of the European political culture of the twentieth century.

    The struggle to achieve satisfactory and effective compromises between freedom, equality and solidarity has been a leitmotif in the history of European political thought. The increase in socio-economic inequalities between and within EU member states as well as the refusal of some governments to share the duties of common citizenship and solidarity policies pertaining to refugees are today alarming signs of a crisis of the common European identity. Values, attitudes as well as interpretations of reality and the related cultural programs, combine in modern civilization with a set of new institutional forms, even those mostly experimented first in Europe and later spread in America and the rest of the world giving life to market institutions and capitalist institutions, the national state and polyarchic democracy, the university and research community.

    European and Western science and technology define a particular approach to the knowledge of physical and human reality capable of transforming nature in order to meet individual and collective needs. What is characteristic in this is the greater propensity to combine scientific discoveries, inventions and technological innovations under the constant pressure of both war and commercial competition. Specifically, it is also the greater capacity to design institutions that are particularly suited to the formation and dissemination of knowledge: the Italian, French and Spanish universities of the medieval era, the British and French scientific academies of the seventeenth century, German research universities of the nineteenth century, and the large research laboratories of contemporary America.

    European modernity was not only a package of technological and organizational developments; it was closely linked to a political revolution and to an equally important transformation of the practices and institutions of scientific research Wittrock Europe invented and refined a mode of understanding in science that has developed since the Renaissance and has become a global model. Its main features are the recognition of the role of mathematics as a measure of scientific accuracy, the union between freedom of inquiry and freedom of criticism as well as the dependence of empirical knowledge on conceptual reflection Rudolph European modernity is also characterized by the development of industrial market capitalism.

    Its guiding principle is constant rational research to maximize utility in order to successfully compete in the market. The efficient combination of production factors in the industrial enterprise and the exchange of goods and services in the self-regulated market are the two fundamental institutions of capitalist development.

    The industrial revolution of the eighteenth century a powerful process of innovation, accumulation of capital, exploitation of labour and market expansion was also due to the availability of iron and coal and surpluses deriving from agriculture and long-distance trade but was first generated by the special bond with the scientific-technical revolution of modernity. Commerce and markets also developed in the ancient empires and in much of the non-European world, but the particular combination of the industrial revolution and the self-regulated market represented a European specificity that gave capitalist growth a force and dynamism without precedent.

    Capitalism was radically criticized, in particular by Marx and Marxist scholars, but proved to be a more effective model of economic relations than the alternative model of floor economics, was transformed through endemic crises, globalized and created variants of capitalism with different political and institutional structures the market-driven Anglo-Saxon variant, the European-continental variant of the social market economy, the Scandinavian variant and the Asian authoritarian variant. The third fundamental institutional component of European identity, the national state, is linked in a more controversial way to the values of rationalism and individualism than they are to science and technology or to the market and the capitalist enterprise.

    From the late Middle Ages, in Europe, or at least in its western part, a composite society of peasants, gentlemen who recognized the authority of a king, traders and craftsmen, joined together in common ties of blood, tongue and religious faith Mendras Society slowly took shape in this context — in opposition to multiethnic empires and a supranational church, to the national state, characterized by the unity of a people, a specific territory and culture.

    The nation-state is another typically European innovation that has been successfully exported to the rest of the world, a peculiar institution that arises from the encounter between a sovereign, autonomous and centralized political organization, endowed with, on the one hand, civil bureaucracy, an army, a navy, diplomacy, and on the other hand a community based on real or imaginary ties of blood, language as well as shared traditions and collective memory.

    The deployment of globalization has led some scholars to misdiagnose the end of the national state, subject to the erosion of sovereignty from the top, by the global interdependence networks and the downside of the reaffirmation of local identities and the demand for autonomy from central control. In fact, it continues to represent the main incarnation of the political authority of modern society and the fundamental actor of contemporary global politics. It is true, however, that it is becoming too small an institution to deal with certain problems such as those of the economic and financial crisis and too large to handle others that would be better managed by local governments.

    This is why the European Union project is of particular relevance. As in the past, the risks of state centralization for individual freedom and cultural pluralism drifting authority, the suppression of many socio-cultural autonomies of local communities of pre-modern societies have been constrained, at least in part, by the development of institutions of representative democracy as seen in Europe today. The opposing and speculative risks of national-populism and technocratic centralization can be countered by a regeneration of supranational democracy.

    Representative democracy a political system composed of elected officials representing the interests and opinions of citizens in the context of the rule of law, based on popular sovereignty and citizen consensus is in fact a fourth aspect of European and Western identity. The Greek polis , the Romanesque res publica , the free cities of Italy, Germany and the Flanders in the late Middle Ages, were all precedents of this European specificity. The significance of the values and institutions of representative democracy in European identity is evidenced by the fact that, along with free market ones, they are considered necessary, scrupulously established requirements for joining the Union.

    In the debates on the Constitutional Treaty, the relationship between the Christian religion and European identity was a particularly sensitive issue. Christianity is a transcendent monotheism that postulates the direct relationship of every creature with its Creator, but has since its origins been a strong element of communion that manifested itself in the early Christian communities in the transformation of the hermits into monastic orders starting from the one founded by Benedict of Norcia particularly in Catholic and Orthodox traditions and in the mediation between the believer and God exercised by religious ceremonies and clergy.

    It gave rise to the most ancient and long-standing institution existing today: the Roman Catholic Church. Christianity has profoundly influenced European culture and institutions sometimes as a source of inspiration, sometimes as a dialectical boundary. On the one hand, along with Greek philosophy and Roman law, it contributed to the development of European and Western individualism. According to the well-known Weberian thesis, the great rational prophecies of the Bible, the rational life plan of monastic orders, and the theory of predestination have all contributed to the growth of rational mentality.

    Our highest values and the rules associated with them, such as the dignity and inviolability of the person, human rights, conscience and individual responsibility, cannot be extrapolated from the historical experience of Jewish-Christian religious tradition, but are rather defined and articulated through it. On the other hand, the notion of the absence of the limit and the belief of man as the creator of his own destiny distinctive features of the modern mentality were strongly opposed by the anti-modernist positions of the Catholic Church — from the trial of Galileo Galilei to the struggle against the theory of Charles Darwin.

    Although born in Palestine, Christianity strongly identified itself with European civilization, and then extended through colonization to other regions of the world. The religious factor, however, has not been translated into either a monopoly or an undifferentiated unity in the culture of Europe.

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    Because other religions such as Islam have had a significant presence as well as the great religious diversity of Christianity itself with its many heretic movements — the schism between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation. In many ways, European life is secularized, but religion continues to play an important role: many European citizens claim to belong to a church, institutions, and religious leaders have a significant influence on the political and cultural life of EU member countries: there are deep convergences between Christian doctrine and lay ethics on many issues.

    The continuing presence of the Christian religion in the contemporary life of Europeans is also based principally on the fact that the great expressions of architecture, painting, music, literature and even philosophy and science are not interpretable without taking into account the role — inspiration or critical, benevolent or repressive — carried out by Christian doctrine and ecclesiastical authority. The necessarily succinct picture of the European identity I have outlined risks to propose an uncritical and ethnocentric image. Some clarifications are therefore needed to avoid misunderstandings.

    First, it should be noted that the characteristics identified are defined as fundamental aspects because they have played a significant role in building a European identity but are not present in a uniform and pervasive way in contemporary Europe, as the case of religion shows. Fundamental values and institutions are also not necessarily positive or ambiguous.

    As already noted, European history has been the source of deep fractures, violent conflicts, idiosyncratic disputes, as well as many crimes and errors. The values of rationalism and individualism and the institutions of the market and national state have produced contradictions, violations, deformations such as the contradictions between capital and wage labour and between economic growth and environmental protection due to the commodification of human labour and nature, the conflict between colonial and neo-colonial exploitation individual freedom and collective freedom of non-European peoples, not to mention wars, mass murders, and genocide.

    From each of the basic elements of European culture one can derive dialectical polarities and give contrasting images: the universal faith of Christian love has been in certain historical phases in strident contrast with the wars of religion and the intolerant repression of the infidels.

    In the heart of the 20th century, the European political order collapsed due to devastating totalitarianism; the free market constantly produces monopolistic annuities and financial crises; the struggle for political independence degenerated into aggressive nationalism. Jaspers argues that it is not possible to isolate substantial values that characterize European culture in a non-ambiguous way, because for every valued orientation, Europe has also produced its opposites: faith and reason, tolerance and religious war, democracy and totalitarianism.

    Nevertheless, those who criticize inclusion among the constituent elements of European identity of aspects that have also have morally reprehensible effects forget that the European project shows that history can be the object of reflective reconsideration through a learning process, that is, to draw lessons from mistakes and crimes of the past. Furthermore, the fundamental aspects of European identity are not exclusive to the contemporary world.

    The thesis of the Europeanization of the world, unduly charging the whole world with the experience of countries with less cultural attainment than Europe. Scientific rationalism, technological innovation and market capitalism have become more popular because cognitive and institutional tools are more efficient than others and to a certain extent are indifferent to their objectives. Individual rights, cultural and political pluralism, the rule of law, separation of powers and representative democracy face greater difficulties because they collide with alternative models of the relationship between the individual and society.

    I have argued that within the historical legacy of the European peoples, alongside different national and local identities, exist the common cultural roots that, with the advent of modernity, have transformed and crystallized into a specific nucleus of boldly innovative values, meanings and institutions, constituting a collective European identity. I have pointed out that this content is constantly evolving and is prone to exceptions in different national contexts.

    The desire for freedom is in fact universal, but developed to the highest degree in Europe, was allowed to defeat despotism by transforming itself into concrete institutions and by fuelling the feeling of justice and the constant sense of restlessness and turbulence felt by Europeans.

    Freedom nourished the second factor, the need to understand historical time and to play an active role as humans within the polis. True freedom is in the pursuit of political freedom within the community or in the development of the individual together with that of the social world that surrounds it. The third factor: science, or the constant effort to penetrate into the heart of all that can be penetrated, is also linked to freedom because it is knowledge and love for knowledge that liberates humans by attributing them not only the external freedom acquired through the knowledge of nature, but also and above all the inner freedom that flows from the knowledge of oneself and of others.

    Crisis also shows fundamental values of solidarity and the contrast of inequalities. What has changed significantly during the seventy years of the history of European integration is the role attributed to European identity by European leadership classes and the intensity of identification with Europe and its own nationhood by European citizens.

    The defence of peace was the fundamental value, which subsequently became increasingly closely linked to the protection of human rights which, although not included in the original project of European communities but in the Council of Europe, were progressively appropriated and claimed as originals until their solemn formulation in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of Nice. It was believed that the stronger the sense of belonging to Europe, the more it weakened nationalist ideology.

    This antagonistic conception of the two types of identities, and the related interest in the issue of European identity, progressively faded as the integration process progressed for two orders of reason. Firstly, because the national states were the foundations on which the supranational union was built and perpetuated by it along with related national identities and sovereign views.

    Secondly, because of the Treaty of Rome, the process was developed mainly in its economic dimension of the integrated single market rather than in the political and cultural dimension. At the beginning of the s, there was a renewal of interest in the issue of European identity in order to manage the growing diversity and disparities resulting from the enlargement from six to nine member states. In , with the signing of the Declaration on European Identity in Copenhagen, a change of perspective was sanctioned in the explicit expression of the compatibility of the European identity and national identities.

    This concept was reaffirmed in subsequent documents, in particular in the Maastricht Treaty, which states that respect for national and regional diversity and the flourishing of different national cultures are an integral part of the appreciation of the common identity and legacy of European culture. It involves self-limitation both of unity, in the sense that separate identities are constituent elements of common identity which does not claim any priority over them and of diversity, in the sense that none of the separate identities question the existence of the common identity.

    The most advanced version of the European project requires, however, a subsequent step: achieving unity through diversity. The memory of a common past is not enough to create a strong sense of belonging to Europe unless it is accompanied by a sincere and active sharing of the political project of a federal union in which unity is strengthened through the enhancement of diversity. It is the sharing of the project that distinguishes the EU from the other half of Europe made up of Russia and the countries that have chosen not to be a part of the Union, while sharing the same historical past.

    Whether and how much common cultural heritage contributes to political integration is debatable, but one cannot in any case apply the national-state model in the sense of a univocal collective identity that legitimizes the unification of Europe as a single political entity because there is a lack of centralized power as well as a standardized culture that is articulated through a common language. Nor should this model be applied, because building a European identity cannot be based on opposition between ourselves and others.

    For the first time in the history of Europe, political authority does not rely on military structures to integrate such a large and economically developed territory, but rather relies upon a legal and economic community while not endeavouring to deprive its members of their cultural specificities. The European Union is a multicultural entity with a strong core of shared principles democratic citizenship, scientific freedom, competitive market, human rights, social cohesion and solidarity, respect for different cultural heritages, peaceful relations with all peoples of the earth , which in turn establishes common institutions.

    Already in ancient Greek philosophy we find the notion of harmony that emerges from contradictory elements. If you postulate unity at the outset, it results in an eternal tendency to return to the original lost design. If, on the contrary, diversity is postulated, unity is conceived as the constant effort fed by conflict and competition — never predetermined. European culture can only be differentiated and plural, united in its diversity, forged and continuously renewed by it.

    Unity calls for the redefinition of identities, both of the different European peoples and also those of immigrants from other regions of the world: the redefinition of identity does not require their abolition. European citizens can get used to having identities that are multi-urban, regional, national and supranational. The formation of a united Europe can build itself around a concept of unity that derives from diversity and multiple citizenship. And yet, one must be aware of the difficulty of this path, because recognizing multiple identities within a single supranational political entity can be a destabilizing factor, as it alters the delicate relationship between ethnos and demos.

    For this reason, while reaffirming that European peoples and governments must build unity through diversity and that European identity and citizenship must be multifaceted, we must realistically enhance those traditional attributes of nationality, of a cultural-symbolic nature, which result as being compatible with the supranational and multicultural project and which can integrate and strengthen the civil-political identity of Europeans, even with appropriate identity techniques.

    Along with the significance attributed to European identity by community institutions, the kind and degree of identification with Europe and its nation of European citizens has also changed over the years. The two aspects of the issue are linked to the fact that the self-image and self-definition of the European Union influences the reasons for identifying Europeans with their fellow citizens and with the community. We have defined identification as the set of cognitive orientations recognizing oneself as European, member of a European cultural family defined by values, norms and institutions, considering this fact as a constituent element of personal identity together with other collective identities , emotional and evaluative, sympathy, common sense, the reasons for and pride of a common belonging, the perception of sharing meaningful and to some extent exclusive experiences, the development of identity values, institutional expressions and common memory, the adoption of a Wir-Perspective as well as related and coherent behaviours of mutual trust, solidarity as well as the willingness to make personal or group sacrifices for common goals.

    Periodic surveys of attitudes and views of representative European citizens such as the Eurobarometer are not without methodological critique but they still provide us with an indication of the changes in the intensity of identification, signalling for some years the erosion of European identity guidelines in addition to the support accorded to EU institutions. Survey data, however, should be supplemented with other data on the variety of forms of social interaction, work, study, economic and cultural cooperation as well as political participation and the percentage of European citizens who have experienced them.

    The development of a genuine identification process starts, however, from the awareness of a common membership, but is completed only with consistent practices and behaviours. In this regard, the intensity of the sentiment of identification with Europe leaves something to be desired.

    Pdf Religious Roots Of Contemporary European Identity

    In the various referendums that have taken place over time Norwegian, Irish, Danish, Spanish, French, Dutch where citizens were asked to express their consent or dissent for the accession or ratification of a treaty, the response was rather negative and almost always fairly modest. Participation rates in the European Parliament elections are low and worsening over time. Decisions and concrete actions, which involve sharing the problems and the costs to be paid for their solution, demonstrate in their entirety the fractures existing among the citizens of the different member states.

    This shows an inadequate degree of identification with those who should be considered a European fellow. Such behaviours are more eloquent than the answers to the Eurobarometer questions. What are the main factors influencing the change of type and degree of identification with Europe? There are three in particular: generational culture, the legacy of the recent past that precedes the entry of a country into the European Union, the change of interests and economic conveniences and the distribution of costs and benefits amongst various social groups.

    Each of these factors confers significant fractures existing within the EU: between social groups favoured or threatened by economic and monetary union, between countries of the North with strong northern economies and southern countries with weak economies in the South, between Western countries more historically integrated countries and the more recent entry of eastern countries, between governments with a community orientation and governments with a sovereign orientation, between advocates of a European market conception and supporters of a social Europe.

    These fractures contribute to nourishing the most important alternative identities, or anyway, with respects to the common European identity: namely generational, national, and that of class. The generational factor is important and shows greater adherence among the younger and the elderly than the intermediate generations. The generation that had a direct or personal experience of World War II feels a common identity with greater intensity and awareness but its importance must be declining. Memories based on direct experience or on the tales of fathers and grandparents who lived through those events as protagonists or spectators, are destined to fade away irretrievably.

    Younger generations are growing up today in a Europe that has never experienced such a long period of peace in its history. Fortunately, they have not had a direct experience of war. There have been and there are still conflicts in eastern Europe ex-Yugoslavia, Chechnya, Ukraine. The consequences of war in Middle East are evident in the form of the millions of refugees fleeing to Europe and the attacks of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism. But these are challenges and threats that do not have such an intensity that, at least for the moment, they provoke an intense emotional reaction convincing the majority of European citizens to mobilize themselves to seek greater co-operation and greater supranational solidarity.

    The historical past is the second important influencing factor mainly for two reasons. States that belonged to the Soviet sphere of influence in the decades of the Cold War came out of a state of limited sovereignty and are now reluctant to surrender spontaneously to supranational institutions portions of that sovereign power that they only recently regained. Furthermore, ancient fractures as well as ethnic, national and religious tensions that were reabsorbed and anesthetized in the bipolar context of the antagonism between the USA and the USSR were then re-invented, favouring the overwhelming resumption of alternative identities and in particular of nationalist-populist ideology.

    A third factor, which adversely affects the sentiment of identification with Europe, was represented by the financial crisis and the long economic downturn that deepened the inequalities between strong and weak economies and the sharp contrasts already produced by globalization among those who benefited and those who were harmed. The economic and financial crisis has further deteriorated the condition of globalization losers, increasing employment precariousness and reducing social protection policies, so that many of them tend to identify the European Union with the neo-liberal set-up of the global economy by involving them both in a single judgment of rejection and condemnation.

    The phenomenon that most readily shows the difficulties encountered by the development of a common identity is the rise of nationalism that today threatens the European Union project. This rise is favoured by the current intertwinement of crises economic-financial, refugees, terrorism , but it is also due to the two major contradictions of the European integration process. The first contradiction is the project of building a supranational union using national states as constituent elements, threatening an end to affiliated nationalisms.

    The second is the contradiction between the transfer of increasing portions of national sovereignty from the state to the supranational level firstly, the common management of important economic sectors, from metallurgy to agriculture, and subsequently the measures designed to create a single European area for the free movement of people, goods, services and capital, the establishment of a court of justice, the introduction of a single currency and the still inadequate transfer of commitment and loyalty from citizens of different member states to the institutions of a supranational community in evolution.

    The two contradictions are closely related. Political decisions taken at the Union level unequally distribute costs and benefits not only between the various social groups but also between the various member countries, fuelling sovereign re-nationalization claims. These claims could be countered and depreciated by strong feelings of membership and adherence to a common project which, however, are stalled because of the largely incomplete nature of European democracy and the defect of its democratic representation.

    It is not however compensated by the development of a genuine European supranational democracy. Decision-making in the EU is still largely top-down, despite efforts to build an alternative model of more engaging democracy the involvement of civil society. The members of the European Council, the most important decision-making body in the tripartite structure of European governance heads of state and governments as well as their ministers , are not chosen by a pan-European constituency but derive their legitimacy from their respective constituencies and therefore tend to put the interest of their country above that of the common European interest.

    The attitudes of the peoples do not differ from those of their leaders, and are often more nationalistic Westle and Segatti The links of cultural affinities and shared values are still much stronger at the national level also as a result of the decline of the great ideological narratives. European citizens do not sufficiently identify with European institutions and often oppose common policies based on nationalistic and particularistic interests and identities.

    The Europe of nations of the Gaullist matrix is also the Europe of nationalisms. Nationalism blocks the way for a stronger political community which could in turn legitimize more comprehensive supranational governance. With intentions of most of its political and intellectual founders, the European institutions should have progressively extended beyond the borders of the national states to replace them, but the process was carried out realistically under the control of the national states. This sovereign approach did not prevent the transfer of increasing shares of sovereignty to the supranational level: a process further stimulated by globalization, but blocked by attempts to create a federal union.

    After the slowdown in the European integration process in the s, there was an acceleration in the next two decades driven by the awareness that a supranational union can face the new challenges of globalization much better than any one economically powerful or politically ambitious member country , followed by a new slowdown since the beginning of this century due to the challenges we have described. In some ways, it is ironic that the European integration that was intended to replace the national state actually guaranteed its survival and its adaptation to a more complex world.

    But, it was an effective compromise because it allowed significant progress on the path to integration, even if it had a negative turn: the survival first and then the strengthening of the nationalism of member states in times of economic-financial crisis and general insecurity.

    The European Union has not replaced national states which are at the same time strengthened and weakened by the integration process. But nationalism often makes agreement difficult. The role of national states in the European decision-making process has been tempered and balanced by multilevel and multi-stakeholder governance, which is divided into a variety of actions and decisions implemented at different levels local, regional, national, supranational by a plurality of public and private actors organized in an integrated decision-making hierarchy.

    But from the moment that nations continue to be founded on that which a supranational union is built and therefore perpetuates through it , nationalism continues to hamper the path to political integration, especially where it is used by populist leaders to increase their electoral consensus. The second contradiction concerns the limits of a supranational government with little development of community feeling in achieving economic, legal and administrative integration. European integration ensues, even within these limits, thanks to special mechanisms. First of all, the spontaneous incremental processes deriving from the intrinsic logic of integration, that is functional and political spillover.

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