The anti-Islam and anti-Türkiye demonstrations in North European countries repeating regularly makes it essential to approach the events from different angles. It is believed that European nations hold a common perspective when it comes to anti-Islam and anti-Türkiye sentiment. When generalized, it is possible to talk about certain common points, especially with respect to West European countries. However, going into detail, it is seen that the common perspective loses validity. This thus makes it essential to discuss different categories. The colonialist heritage must be taken seriously. Hence, it would help to re-identify the extremism in terms of anti-Islam and anti-Türkiye sentiment today, especially in North European countries.
Direct anti-Islam sentiment has been gaining momentum in North European countries – including The Netherlands – for a while now. This time a Danish politician attempted to burn the Qur’an, the Islamic holy book, in front of Türkiye’s Stockholm embassy. The fact that this abominable act was committed under the Swedish state’s protection adds new dimensions to the event. The Danish politician’s demonstration process carried on under Swedish state control. In order to explain the process, they made references to European values. They presented the burning of the Qur’an as a democratic act. They thus achieved what they wanted. This way the attack on the Qur’an was considered within the context of democracy and freedoms in both Türkiye and different parts of the world. Regardless, the fact that the anti-Islam and anti-Türkiye sentiment gained continuity with state support cannot be concealed.
Nobert Elias focused in the 19th century on how the concept of culture determined the German nation’s borders. The Danish politician’s abominable act today can also be evaluated in accordance with a similar view. Foreign presence in North European countries is quite important with respect to the boundaries of the concept of culture. This shows that we cannot make sense of the said act within the scope of orientalist approaches. As stated earlier, orientalism must be discussed within the context of colonialism. It is difficult to identify the objective of the act committed by the Danish politician under Swedish state protection in accordance with colonialist heritage. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) ramping up its anti-Türkiye acts at about the same time should also be considered in terms of cultural borders.
It is known that the Enlightenment era concepts are valid in Türkiye. Hence, North European countries’ political pursuits have generally been studied through anti-religion and anti-science sentiments. As a result, many details were overlooked, and thus no attention was paid to developments that can be referred to as neo-paganism. Therefore, the reasons underlying attacks on the Qur’an cannot be clearly understood. This event cannot be explained as a science conflict, or within the context of democratic values. This attack, which should be condemned and despised in every aspect, cannot be included within the context of orientalist approaches either.
It is important to note that this abominable act was committed during a period Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership is in discussion. As known, these two countries applied for NATO membership following the Ukraine war. Türkiye stated it would support their NATO membership on the condition Sweden in particular withdraws its support to terrorist organizations. Terrorist organizations such as the Fetullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), which we can associate with neo-paganism, are all in the same scope. Though this shows that the Qur’an burning act needs to be discussed in much different contexts. It is a known fact that the number of terrorist organization members seeking shelter in European countries and the U.S. greatly increased after the July 15, 2016 coup and invasion attempt on Türkiye. The process should be followed in terms of their transformation as well.
Türkiye rightfully showed a great reaction to the event that took place in Sweden. Every level of reaction to the Qur’an burning act, which is a direct attack on Islam, is quite natural. A new era was opened in the early 1990s with Salman Rushdi’s book. There is no doubt that the entire Islamic region was under threat back then. The victory of U.S. liberalism was sanctified. It can be said that this period is ongoing. They want to reach their objective by attacking sacred values. What is important is to determine objectives.
Europe’s exceptionalism theory had long collapsed. That collapse is actual today. Those within need to see this as well.
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