Mar 31, 2016

Minister Balog: ‘We are at war, but not with Islam’

In Budapest on Wednesday, at a conference commemorating the 100th anniversary of Islam’s recognition as a religion in Hungary, Minister of Human Capacities Zoltán Balog said that a dialogue is required with Islam, and it needs partners.

Mr. Balog said that “we are at war, but not with Islam as the experience of God, and not with Islam as a culture or community”, but with those who in the name of Islam usurp the power of its communities, seeking to terrorise, occupy and irrevocably change Europe.

He said that both the Islamic and Western worlds should combat terrorism. “Openness and self-defence, identity and communication should be partners in the 21st century”, Mr. Balog said.

The two-day conference was jointly organised by Eötvös Loránd University and the Institute of History at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. In his opening speech Mr. Balog said that Europe should be able to defend itself against any threat, but this requires both inner and physical strength.

He said that it is well known that those with strong enough identities should not be worried about their own souls and cultures, because they already have the most important thing required to conquer the future: the knowledge and certainty of their own identities.

He said that in its everyday life Europe must be capable of preserving, using, and – if necessary – rediscovering and recreating its own identity, which could grow from its own values; at the same time Europe should also familiarise itself with Islam, which is becoming a daily presence.

He said that the existence and development of Islam holds a mirror up to Europe. This should be faced and is also worth facing, given that it could show the continent its own weaknesses and virtues – as well as the virtues of families, communities, faith and commitment, in opposition to increasingly polarised Western societies.

Mr. Balog said that today’s Europe is wealthy but weak and lazy: intellectually, morally and economically. He added that the experiences of the past decade have shown that European leaders are prone to choose easy, temporary solutions.

Pál Fodor, Director of the Institute of History, said that Hungary recognised Islam a century ago, at a time when Hungary was seeking its roots and turned towards the East with all its soul. In this process it found partners in the Muslims – primarily the Turks, who sheltered refugees after the 1848–49 revolution. At that time they were comrades in arms against the common enemy that was Russia, and later they were allies in World War I.