The threat that Europe thinks is being done to it by religion! An explanation from one of the greatest thinkers in the world

The threat that Europe thinks is being done to it by religion! An explanation

Some conservative politicians resume the battle of a Christian Europe as if Western values ​​were threatened, as if European identity was being attacked an identity that fits neither the history nor the diversity of European societies.

Europe cannot be defined as synonymous with the West. The roots of Western history and civilization - Athens, Rome, Jerusalem - were not European in the Western sense of the word. We tend to forget that Western culture and civilization originated in the East. Ancient civilizations belong to the east and not the west. Classical antiquity and the origins of Christianity were Mediterranean, in the sense used by Braudel. Neither the Greeks nor the Romans had a clear idea of ​​European identity, an idea that originated in the Middle Ages, when at that time Rome was the center of the world. Europe represents the West neither historically nor currently. In ancient times, for the villages, the division between north and south was more significant than the division east, west. For a long time, the Alps represented a geographical and cultural boundary far beyond the Mediterranean, which was the center of civilization. The antagonism between east and west was conceived around the 7th century, when Europe took a stand against Islam, a position that lasted until the Middle Ages, in the modern era, and until the end of the Cold War.

The extension of the European Union to the east differs from the former; it is not only a significant addition to the member states but also a reversal of the framework of civilization. With Europe shifting its borders towards Russia and with Turkey's prospect of membership, Europe is shifting to Asia and becoming increasingly post-Western and polycentric, as Gerard Delanty very well explained. In this way it was overcome by the "Little Europe" of the Cold War. The extension not only geographically enlarged Europe, but transformed it qualitatively. Since 1989, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, opposition to the East disappeared and the construction of a multipolar world began.

From this point of view one can better understand the proper response to the ¨Christian roots of Europe¨. If Europe's identity is not codified in a cultural package, it cannot even be defined as a religious identity. The identification of Europe with Christianity - which came from Hasburg and at the time served to oppose the Ottoman Empire - does not accurately reflect religious pluralism in Europe, nor does it undertake to explain the meaning that religion has had and still has in Europe. The problem does not lie in acknowledging or forgetting the importance that Christianity has had as the origin of Europe. This acceptance cannot be right if it is forgotten that other religions have also influenced to construct the composition of this identity. This pluralism exists as a result of our history and the composition of our societies where today more than fifteen million Muslims live. But the fundamental issue lies in the fact that no culture or religion can define the definition of citizenship. Europe must adapt to a pluralism that does not refer to the diversity of religions nor to the diversity of the meaning that religion has for its citizens. This adaptation must be implemented taking into account the coexistence between religious beliefs and society with its different styles and lifestyles.

If between these values, if a particularly characteristic solution were to be chosen, I would emphasize Montesquieu's statement that Europe has always been interested in the opinion of others. I think this predisposition to see ourselves through the eyes of others is the origin of our best achievements and not a defense of something that belongs to us exclusively.

What if our core values ​​were a set of habits to distance ourselves from identity itself? Reflection, distance from oneself, curiosity, respect, compliance, willingness to cooperate and acceptance are some of the qualities of identity but otherwise the European experiment would not have taken place. During European Christmas we celebrate different things, but the happiness we wish has to do with the fate we have to live like this.

* Daniel Innerarity is Professor of Political Philosophy, Researcher at the Basque University, and at the European University of Florence. He has taught at Sobborne University Paris, London School of Economics, Georgetown University. The French magazine NLe Nouvel Observateur iu included him in the list of the greatest thinkers in the world.

The threat that Europe thinks is being done to it by religion! An explanation

The article was translated into Albanian and edited for by Albana Murra.