The case for Turkish accession to the European Union is contentious on many grounds, but Tariq Ramadan argues that it is by and large a pervasive, ungrounded fear of Islam that is keeping Turkey out of Europe:

The arguments that locate Turkey outside European history and geography cannot withstand analysis. For more than four centuries the Ottoman empire shared and shaped the political and strategic future of the continent. During the late 19th and early 20th century, it became the “sick man of Europe”. Even today, Turkey’s historical and economic influence continues to be substantial.


It is time for the countries of Europe to overcome their fear of Islam; time for them to stop turning Turkish EU membership into a cultural battleground. The only criteria to membership should be those of Copenhagen (1993)—and a European commission report (2004) mentioned that Turkey is very close to satisfying them. European politicians are ready to ignore their countries’ long-term socioeconomic needs in order to respond to the short-term religious and cultural fears of their constituencies. Millions of women and men are already European and Muslim; Turkish EU membership would be nothing new, and present no dangers. Islam is, de facto, a European religion; culturally, politically and economically, Turkey forms an integral part of its future.

Read Ramadan’s Guardian piece here.