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  • Writer's pictureAssita Kanko

Europe must fight to defend its identity

Europe needs to rearm its identity in the face of Islamism and cancel-culture, writes Assita Kanko.

Assita Kanko is a Belgian MEP in the European Conservatives and Reformists group.

Today the Muslim Brotherhood, spearhead of political Islam and the insidious soft Islamisation of Western societies, continues its lobbying and blame games with its imaginary Trojan horse: Islamophobia. A new censorship that makes all those who courageously stand up against the excesses of a religion that seek to enslave women feel guilty and stigmatised. The aim is clear: normalise radical Islamic codes and ways of life in order to gradually transform our Western societies instead of adapting to our European way of life.

As a black woman and a secular Muslim, I know what it is to live under Islamic pressure and I know what it takes to emancipate oneself in order to finally live in dignity. The fight to preserve European civilisation is a fight to preserve humanism. I believe that Europe has a special place in the world and therefore has the responsibility to preserve that uniqueness, because our heritage is the path to our future.

The world looks to us, the free thinkers of the world look to us, the oppressed women of the world hope for us. Europe is a light for those who fight for freedom of expression, for dignity and for democracy.

Born in Burkina Faso, I fought to enter school, fought to be able to express myself freely and I fearlessly denounced the abuses of an authoritarian regime. This fight has condemned me to exile and to mourn friends, especially journalists, who were murdered because they were striving for dignity for all and for the construction of what we have here and forget, perhaps out of cowardice, to protect.

Today, I am fighting this battle in the European Parliament. My attachment to the dignity of all, to freedom and to human rights, is accompanied by intransigence towards the scourge of cancel culture and racialism. These ideologies are regressions that confine people more than they lead them to emancipation. These beliefs carry within them a deep loathing of our civilisation and a desire for revenge.

I know that what unites people is not directives or circulars, nor the market economy alone, which can be more or less closed or integrated… what really unites us is culture; the strong sense of belonging to a community of values, ideals, tastes, hopes and, necessarily, roots. Our task must be to define the common roots of the peoples of Europe in order to build or rebuild a strong European shared cultural identity, of which we are proud and in which we recognize ourselves, in order to unite and give new meaning to the European project.

Cultural roots are often the lowest common denominator of a human organisation. Two stones support the European temple: the Judeo-Christian heritage with the idea of human dignity and the Enlightenment, with the intellectual effervescence that accompanied it. It is from this subtle alchemy that European culture was born. European Judeo-Christian civilisation has created for itself over the centuries the conditions for its intellectual emancipation, and it can be proud of this.

It draws its strength from Voltaire’s breath of freedom. Its soul resounds in Goethe’s phrases during the siege of Mainz, but also in the sound of the bells of the Sistine Chapel, Chartres or Santiago de Compostela. European identity is Picasso painting Guernica or Hugo ‘on a barricade’, it is also Pasteur and Einstein, Pontius Pilate’s ecce homo and Munch’s cry. And more recently it is Solidarność, the Prague Spring, Budapest 1956… There are so many examples to feed this shared European culture and history, made up today of people like me, fiercely attached to this heritage of the Enlightenment, to our ideals and our values, to this civilisation that I have made my own and whose value I know.

The huge task that we must focus on must ultimately answer a simple question: what unites us?

It is certainly useful to want to define geographical borders, but it is also urgent to define our cultural borders. There is no point in trying to build a political Europe in any form until we have conceptually stabilised Europe’s identity and are proud of our common heritage. This is not taking a step backwards as cancel culture tells us. It means moving forward, knowing where we come from.

As Seneca wrote “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable.” Until we find our soul and our pride, how can we build our future? Europe must urgently pull itself together and reaffirm its commitment to its own values…

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

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