Today is a special day for the Islamic World, the first day of Ramazan Bayramı, or Eid-al-Fitr as known in Arabic. Just as Christians gather with their families on Christmas Eve, all the Muslims in the world gather with their families and experience brotherhood through the religious feasts. Unfortunately, the majority of Muslims living in EU countries cannot enjoy eid. Syrian refugees in particular have to worry about their safety, even during eid. Aside from poor living conditions, they suffer a constant threat from racists and neo-Nazis.
Those who are not afraid for their safety are also sad since they are subjected to exclusion from the EU, which functions as a league of Christians.
Although millions of Muslims live in the EU, the religious feasts of Muslims are not officially recognized as public holidays in many EU countries. This is a great injustice. While Christian's religious days, be they Protestant or Catholic, are recognized as public holidays, Muslim holidays are not recognized. Europe should have ended this injustice by drawing lessons from its past. The Muslim children and youth in the EU are growing up and seeing this exclusion at their schools. While Christian children enjoy their religious holidays, Muslim children cannot enjoy their own holidays, even on the first day of eid. This is not fair.
The steps that should be taken at the European Parliament in this regard have still not been taken. Even though the European Parliament criticizes all kinds of exclusion and discrimination all across the world and issues decisions regarding every part of the world at their sessions, they do not take any action with regard to discrimination in Europe. They are blind to discrimination in the EU, even while they are critical towards the farthest country regarding human rights.
In most EU countries, Muslim religious holidays are not publically recognized. In most EU countries, religious lessons are available only for Catholics and Protestants. Muslim children do not receive such classes, as if Islam did not exist. This goes against human rights and EU values.
In some EU countries, Muslim children are not accepted in kindergartens run by churches. Although some are located in the neighborhoods where the Muslim population is high, they accept Muslim children merely for economic reasons and they do not employ Muslim teachers. They justify this by arguing that the kindergartens belong to churches. Despite saying this, the efforts by Muslims to open their own kindergartens are hindered. The conveniences provided to churches are not provided to Muslims.In some EU countries, church taxes are deducted from salaries. If such taxes are to be practiced in this age, this should not only include churches, and the taxes collected should be fairly distributed. However, displaying made-up reasons prevents this. While churches are restored and the salaries of Christian religious leaders are paid through church taxes, Muslims have to build mosques and finance imams with their own means. When they want to build a mosque in the "emancipated" EU countries, they have to struggle against all kinds of prohibition.
The azan, the call to prayer by Muslims, is not allowed in areas where church bells are allowed. Some mayors or municipal councils do everything they can to make sure that the minarets of mosques are not higher than the domes of churches.
When a group of Muslims file an appeal to build a mosque, officials do everything they can to refuse the appeal as if they think of themselves as Austrians defending Vienna from Ottoman siege.
This is the current picture in the EU. Today, on the first day of eid, the EU still practices such exclusionary policies, which are a disgrace to EU values.
But we should not be surprised by it. There is a Turkish proverb: "A fish rots from the head down." Recently, the Austrian prime minister said Austria would leave the EU if Turkey joined, which offends the Muslims living in the EU. The Austrian Prime Minister does not only set a bad example as a politician with no vision and who is still fixated on the siege of Vienna, he also acts as a spokesperson for those who argue that the EU is and should remain a league of Christians. Unfortunately, those who think similarly are not few. The situation will not change as long as politicians promote such outdated thoughts to increase their votes.
But how far will it go? The situation is likely to cause a permanent deterioration of EU values.
The EU will remain as a league of Christians and will not be able to develop so long as it hampers Turkey's path to the EU membership solely because it is a Muslim country. But, there is a chance. A step to introduce visa liberalization as part of the agreement on refugees could bring many positive changes.
The European Council and EU Commission can make this possible by convincing the European Parliament, which rejected the negotiation and approval of the agreement by asserting unacceptable reasons. In this way, the EU would have a chance to demonstrate that it does not have any problem with Muslims.
Otherwise, all of the Islam World will see the EU as a league of Christians, not a bias, but as a fact.
Hopefully, we will celebrate next year's eid in much better conditions.