- Dec 2016
In this regard, there is also a need today to include Islam in our understanding of the history of Western civilization. As Islam emerged in late antiquity on the edges of the Roman Empire on the Arabian Peninsula it became a unique expression of religious sentiment within an intercultural and interreligious context of Arab, Jewish, and Christian theological debate. Some rightwing populists today want to present Islam as a radical alterity that has nothing to do with Western civilization. From the perspective of Jewish and Christian religious history, however, Islam is better understood as a proximate-other. As historical-critical exegesis of the Quran and scientific historical research of the emergence of Islam have shown, the genesis of the religion was deeply related to Jewish and Christian traditions and the theological debates of late antiquity in the Arab contex
Seems both to understate the role of Judaism and Christianity in the origins of Islam, and mix Judaism and Christianity together in their proximity to Islam. Those two histories do not overlap easily (nor are they only two histories!)
The push for stronger cultural identities and political borders is inseparable from the general concern about Islam and immigration. Most of the new populists are promoting a one-sided criticism of Islam. This is connected to the public fears of terrorism, angst about Sharia, the status of women in Muslim communities, demographic tensions (aging European populations with lower birth rates and younger immigrant populations with higher birthrates), and issues surrounding the social integration of immigrants. In this context, talk about the Jewish and Christian heritage of the West has reemerged in secular Europe and in the United States as an alternative identity-forming heritage. This is the case even in a very secular place like former East Germany.
The Jewish and Christian heritage is not really under discussion. Christian, sure, but many of the populist parties in the US and Europe are either explicitly or tacitly identifying with historically anti-Semitic ideologies. See the embrace of Trump by the KKK, American Nazi Party, "alt-right,"; the Austrian Freedom Party; the historical anti-Semitism of the French Popular Front.