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sonz
07-02-2006, 06:30 PM
About 180 representatives of European and Arab countries, including academicians, thinkers, and religious authorities, are gathering in Istanbul, Turkey, to attend the “Muslims of Europe” conference that will address problems facing the millions of Muslims living in Europe, including the identity and nationality of the European Muslims, AFP reported.

There are 15 million Muslims living throughout Europe today, making Islam the largest religious minority.

The growing Muslim population in Europe needs debate and clear engagements, according to the conference organizers.

Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss-born intellectual who teaches Islamic Studies at Oxford, called on Muslims to be active participants in mainstream European society, adding that Muslims should think and behave as European citizens, not as members of a ghettoized minority, reported Reuters.

"We have to practise self-criticism for our own sake, not to criticize Islam, but to criticize our behaviors," Tariq Ramadan, the Oxford professor, and head of the European Muslim Network, a think-tank organization in Brussels, told the Muslims of Europe conference.

On the other hand, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a Turkish academic and secretary of the Islamic Organisation Conference (IOC), stressed that European governments should give Muslims more rights to express their religion in public.

Organisers of the conference hope it will succeed in resolving the problem of identity, among other global issues that will also be tackled in the conference, Mr. Ramadan added.

A noticeable rise of “Islamophobic” crimes across Europe has been a source of concern to the world Muslim communities especially Muslims living in the West, whether in Europe or the United States, Ihsanoglu said.

"Reaction to the humiliating conditions in the Muslim world can sometimes be brutal and visceral by fringe elements who pretend that they act in the name of Islam," he said.

"Islam does not condone extremism and terrorism and it is a well-known fact that every single Muslim country and their religious leaders have also condemned and continue to condemn extremist and terrorist acts committed on behalf of Islam."

The number of Muslims in Europe is expected to continue to grow exponentially.

AlJazeera
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