A lack of social representation and inability to find space to showcase the real Islam is promoting Islamophobia in European countries. Muslims worldwide should come together overcoming barriers of culture and nations for world peace, according to an Italian writer and researcher.

“Islamophobia has not reached its peak in Europe as the media usually portrays. However, things can change any moment.  The main reason for this is due to the incapacity of Muslims there to find public space," one of the emerging Western Muslim scholars and cultural activists, Dr Sabrina Lei (pictured), told The Peninsula.

“There is a dire lack of institutions and socio-political representation of Muslims in Europe. This is one reason that promotes Islamophobia. If European Muslims do not utilise chances to come forward, the future generations may feel the pressure,” said the Director of Tawasul Italy, a centre for research and interfaith dialogue, who was in Qatar recently. 

According to her, most of the anti-Muslim atrocities in Europe are singular and done by minority groups. However, these groups aim to provoke Muslims to get the reaction they want.

“We should be smart enough not to react. People in the West are not interested in piety issues, and when there is widespread violence in the name of, for example, a cartoon, people look into these issues and thus get a wrong image of Islam. One thing Muslims should understand is that these minority groups just want another proof to picture Muslims as a violent, narrowminded group that cannot take in critics. It is better to leave these issues untouched,” she said.

However, a Muslim should always be in action in a situation where an individual’s life and livelihood is in question, she said.

“In the west, Islam is actually invisible, and it is seen as an intruder. It is pictured as a negation of all western values. This has, in a long run, become the main discourse and now if Muslims let things go further, they won’t be able show the real Islam.

Dr Lei, through her institute, is working with various international and government agencies to represent Islam in the Western society.

“We are not looking at preaching Islam, but representing Islam as a civilization. We want to show Muslims in a multi-cultural society. Our aim is not to make Islam or Muslims ‘tolerated’ but to be part of the society. We should try to present Islam as a way of life which can be approached by people from different nationalities and backgrounds,” she stressed.

Through her works, she showcases the philosophical and historical aspects of Islam. Her most recent book “Reflection on Islam”, exhibits Islam in the West from a Muslim point of view to make western readers understand Islam in a better way.

Meanwhile, she also stressed that leaders in the Arab world should support Islamic institutions in the West in their venture to showcase Islam as a religion of peace. “The leaders in the Arab world should help to integrate Islam into the mainstream society. They should understand that we are one community, though we belong to different nationalities. We should go way beyond the cultural and national barriers and strengthen each other in the interest of not only Muslims, but also the world peace,” she said.