International Syposium In Europe

3 January 2017 Friday








President of Yıldız Technical University

Halit EREN

Director General of IRCICA





(Chair: Halit Eren)


Islamophobia as a Western Tool of Fear Mongering


Patriotism as the Modern Justification of Islamophobia


Neo-Orientalism in the Contemporary Image


The (Un)Conscious Bias: Origins and Development of Islamophobia in Europe





(Chair: Amir Duranović)


Nothing New: Islamophobia by Default in Postwar Migration of Turkish and Balkan Muslims to Germany


The Social impact of islamophobia on Muslims in the Netherlands

Mehmet Osman GÜLYEŞİL

How do you deal with the Stranger? Islam between Leitkultur and Multiculturalism in Germany


Islamophobic discourse in Finland. From mosque debates to Ramadan festivities





14 January 2017 Saturday



 (Chair: Cengiz Tomar)


Refugees and Islamophobia in the Arab Media: A Focus on Germany and Eastern Europe

Abraham HADI

Islamophobia in Europe and its Repercussions in the East

Abdeslam MARFOUK

I’m Neither Racist nor Xenophobic, but: Dissecting: European Attitudes towards a Ban on Muslims’ Immigration



(Chair: Ali Çaksu)


History Education in the Balkans and Islamophobia


Examining the Status of Islam and Islamophobia in Greece


Ottoman Past in the Greek Imagination and Islamophobia





(Chair: Isa Blumi)


Islamic community in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Islamophobia


The Challenges of Post-War Institutional Arrangements of Religion in Kosovo







Mister Director of IRCICA,

Distinguished guests,

Dear colleagues and students,

Today we met here to discuss about Islamophobia in Europe. Why this topic and why now, in the first days of 2017? The main reason for this organization is that nowadays Islamophobia in Europe became much stronger than it was during the whole 20th century. There are political movements and parties in Europe which are mainly based on Islamophobic arguments and feelings. In the last elections they could get a more stronger position in the parliaments of European countries. Mainstream media in Europe provokes permanently Islamophobic feelings. Muslims in European countries become more and more victims of Islamophobic attacks (verbal and physical). And all these happen in the most democratic part of the world. This is a very negative development which should be analyzed deeply and we should try to find ways and middles to stop this negative development. This is very important for the maintenance of peace and freedom in the world.

What is the reason for the rapid rise of Islamophobia in Europe? Of course there are understandable reasons. The terrorist attacks committed by terrorist organizations like ISIS, Al Kaida and so on, provoke the anti-Islam feelings not only in Europe but also in the whole world. Also Turkey became target of repeated terrorist attacks in the last year and even during the first hours of the new year. The second point is the mass migration of Muslim population from Middle Eastern and African countries to Europe. The issue of refugees and the social and economic problems related to this issue are a further reason for the rise of Islamophobia in Europe.

Are these the only reasons for Islamophobia in Europe? Ofcourse not. There are also historical roots of anti-Islam feelings in Europe. Therefore we called the conference title “Past and Present”. Islamophobia in Europe has historical roots and it had existed in different forms. For example, “Turkophobia” (Türkenfurcht in German / fear from Turks) of the 16th century in central Europe can be regarded as one of the periods of history of Islamophobia in Europe. Current history textbooks in the Balkan states describe the Ottoman period of their history as the “Dark Period” and they teach anti-Turkish and anti-Islam feelings and stereotypes to all generations. Therefore this conference deals also with text books and other media which play an important role in the spread of Islamophobic feelings in Europe.

We organized this event together with the prominent Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. I would like to thank the Director of IRCICA, Dr. Halit Eren, for this excellent organization and support. The organization was initiated by our Center for Balkan and Black Sea Studies (BALKAR) which was established in 2010. I would like to thank the Director of BALKAR, Prof. Dr. Mehmet Hacısalihoğlu, for his hard work. I thank also the members of IRCICA and BALKAR and students who participated in the organization of this event. I would like to thank the Scientific Committee of the conference who elected the best paper proposals for the conference.

Last but not least I thank all participants coming from more than ten different countries.

I wish you all a successful symposium. 

I wish that your contributions will also contribute to a better understanding and peace in the world.

We hope for a better world.

Our device is:


Thank you very much

Prof. Dr. Bahri ŞAHİN

President of Yıldız Technical University


Report on International Conference on Islamophobia in Europe: Past and Present

Ali Çaksu (Assoc. Prof. Dr., Vice Director of BALKAR)

An international conference titled Islamophobia in Europe: Past and Present was held on 13-14 January 2017 at the Beşiktaş campus of Yıldız Technical University in Istanbul. The conference was organized by the Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) of the OIC and Center for Balkan and Black Sea Studies (BALKAR) of Yıldız Technical University.

The event brought together prominent scholars as well as young and promising academicians who dealt with various aspects of Islamophobia in the West. The participants of the congress came from several countries like Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Greece, Turkey and India.

The conference started on 13 January 2017 with welcome addresses delivered by Prof. Dr. Bahri Şahin, Rector of Yıldız Technical University and Dr. Halit Eren, Director General of IRCICA. The event proceeded with five panels. While Panel 1 was devoted to terminology and content, Panel 2 focused on Islamophobia in central and western Europe. Panel 3 dealt with the issue of refugees and Islamophobia, while Panels 4 and 5 discussed Islamophobia in eastern and western Balkans respectively. Each panel was followed by a lively discussion in which the audience participated actively. The conference ended with a fruitful Final Discussion. 

The participants dealt in their presentations with a wide range of concepts and issues pertaining to Islamophobia, including fear, fear mongering, terrorism, Eurocentrism, neo-colonialism, neo-Orientalism, patriotism, racism, xenophobia, immigration, refugees, multiculturalism and textbook revision. Some participants also examined the roots and current situation of Islamophobia in certain countries such as Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Greece. 

The proceedings of the conference will be published soon after going through peer reviewing process.


Concluding remarks of the Symposium

Isa Blumi (Assoc. Prof., Stockholm University)

"Fortress Europe" has become commonplace in its various iterations. Driving a larger narrative that Europe (by default meant to include only those countries either members of the European Union or strong, "western" orientated ones like Switzerland and the United Kingdom) is both under siege and needing defensive barriers implies violence as much as security. The source of the violence has largely been described by those invested in the strategic importance of seeing Europe in these terms. At once generic and specific, the underlying premise is Europe is in some shape or form under attack. Over the last twenty years the source of such an attack has entirely been associated with non-European migrants. That they brought with them some form of hostile "culture" or "values" contrary to what "Europe" (suddenly not an amalgamation of distinctive, different nations but an entirely singular cultural and political entity) represents meant collective efforts to stem the "tide" of migration was needed if "Europe" would retain its distinctive, singular identity. Thus, references to Europe under siege was and remains so, entirely a cultural one. And while the underlying concern is cultural, the manner in which Europe became the focus of political, and thus also economic, actors proves essential to understanding the last 20 years of cultural and political life in Europe. 

Yildiz Teknik Universities and IRCICA in Istanbul hosted between January 13 and 14 an international conference with a specific focus on addressing critically one recent manifestation of this longer issue facing European policy-makers, political and cultural elites and by default, the larger public. With a rapidly changing political order in the larger world since the end of the Cold War, a significant shift in strategic thinking has taken place. What had previously been a powerful binary pitting "East" and "West" in the form of clashing ideological projects--Socialism vs. Capitalism--has mutated to take a more essentialist cultural turn, one in which an essentialist "West" is pitted against a neatly, narrowly defined "Islamic world." The assumption since at least late 2001 that something simply framed as "Islam" is by its nature contradictory to the "West" and by default "Europe" contributed to this longer period of hysteria around the "Fortress Europe" theme. The conference bringing together scholars from 10 countries specifically identified and then explored in various ways, a byproduct of the mobilization of this theme of Europe confronted by Islam. What is understood as "Islamophobia" animated the offerings of scholars contributing to panels organized to illuminate various forms of conflictual relations between Europe and those deemed, by way of migration, fundamentally alien to the European story. 

While impossible to summarize the underlying conclusions made by the 16 scholars presenting their preliminary findings/responses to an apparent issue of Islamophobia in Europe, the very diversity of approaches to studying the issue highlights a larger set of opportunities to continue the study of this latest manifestation of "Fortress Europe" even further. At once addressing, in panel one, the terminology and content of Islamophobia in Europe, and then exploring how, in distinctive regions of Europe, Muslims presumably exposed to various forms of Islamophobia either responded to it or faced institutional or individual harassment because of it seemed to often be targets rather than actors in the story. In this respect, it was suggested throughout that there may be more useful ways to understanding the events labeled too often without much thought as "Islamophobia." For one, as Dr. Ali Caksu and Silva Kalcic noted in panel one, an underlying issue behind current hysteria in some corners of European society about the presence of Muslims (among a much larger migrant, non-European population) is its historic variability. Seen as but an extension of a more traditional reference to "fear-mongering" that did have in various periods an "orientalist" veneer to them, Islamophobia no longer seemed entirely unique to the period since "9/11" and indeed, Europe. More, as explored by individual case studies that took participants from the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, the Arabic-speaking world and the Balkans, Islamophobia also fails to be easily identifiable. Often, the only way to appreciate just what may be considered Islamophobic about the relationships peoples in Europe sustained over the past 20 years was to actually move outside the common points of reference conventional studies on European xenophobia focus. The resulting complexity of how Muslims of various backgrounds actually experienced individual or collective prejudice could only be fully appreciated in comparison. In other words, the conference has offered participants and the audience a strong argument for both expanding the study further and doing so with a specific comparative and inter-disciplinary focus. Without the kinds of questions raised in close ethnographic, as well as theoretical, legal and social historical perspectives, to say nothing of the economic factors behind relative manifestations of "Islamophobia," the relationship Europeans have with each other (non-Muslims and Muslims) remains obscure. In sum, the underlying conclusions one must draw from this preliminary inquiry into Islamophobia is that "more work is needed." The experiences are so disparate, the forms in which Islamophobia are expressed, felt, experienced, and resisted, so distinctive, any single conclusion proves impossible. Future inquires thus, hopefully building from the foundations laid at this conference, will more specifically aim to integrate these findings while asking new types of questions with a focus on comparing across different polities, geographies and temporalities that various forms of xenophobia directed at some (but certainly not all) Muslims. Here then future scholars wishing to follow up on the findings of this conference will want to more closely inquire if violence in its symbolic, rhetorical, as much as economic and physical forms, actually targeted otherwise passive Muslims or were there forms of responses and pro-active engagements that actually modified and transformed once assumed, essential, and "natural" expressions of European hostility to Muslims. In such terms, our very understanding of what constitutes Muslims, Islam, Europe, Europeans and Islamophobia is challenged. Indeed, the greatest success of this conference may just be its useful challenging of all our categories, making any attempt to frame relations between Europeans (be they immigrants, third-generation Muslims and/or non-Muslims) in strictly those terms associated with hostility. Perhaps, in subsequent efforts to study Islamophobia, it is possible to discover new forms of engagement that are not set, with evolving relations between various actors--individuals, communities, institutions, economic interests--that complicate beyond recognition what it is we mean by Islamophobia. In the end, the conference proved a suggessful, counter-intuitive, challenge to normative approaches to understanding the lives of Muslims in Europe and the impact they have had on all Europeans and the state institutions that shape their lives.