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Christian identity of secular Europe

Author(s): Malešević Miroslava

Journal: Glasnik Etnografskog Instituta SANU
ISSN 0350-0861

Volume: 2006;
Issue: 54;
Start page: 69;
Date: 2006;
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Keywords: European integration | identity | religion | secularism | Christian values

The Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy began after twelve editorial cartoons, most of which depicted the Islamic prophet Muhammad, were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on September 30, 2005. The newspaper explained that this publication was a contribution to debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship. In response, Danish Muslim organizations held public protests and spread knowledge of Jyllands-Postens publication. As the controversy grew, some or all of the cartoons were reprinted in newspapers in more than fifty other countries, which led to violent protests, particularly in the Muslim world. Critics of the cartoons describe them as islamophobic and argue that they are blasphemous, intended to humiliate a marginalized Danish minority, and a manifestation of ignorance about the history of western imperialism, from colonialism to the current conflicts in the Middle East. Supporters of the cartoons claim they illustrate an important issue in an age of Islamic extremist terrorism and that their publication is a legitimate exercise of the right of free speech. They also note that similar cartoons about other religions are frequently printed, arguing that the followers of Islam were not targeted in a discriminatory way. The dispute has again pointed out to the relevance of religion and religious differences in the contemporary world. Again, several questions presented themselves as significant: citizen freedom, values and the rights to exercise them, secularism, tolerance, multiculturalism majority-minority relationships and so on. The resolution to these issues appears as of the outmost importance, considering the existing tendencies of united Europe to even more firmly establish cultural, economic, and political associations, in order to launch a one, joined European identity with vanishing national, ethnic and religious differences. Therefore, the question becomes: what could serve as a foundation for such a united identity? The reactions to the idea of "united Europe" that provoked rising nationalism xenophobia, and resistance towards immigrants in general show that a construction of the identity of this kind represents a very complicated undertaking, with still blurred ending. This paper, thus, discusses basics misunderstandings between "Euro-enthusiastic" and the ones who worry about their own national identity, and points out to the existence of some intrashared values that could serve as a foundation for a future, united European identity.
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