By Tansel Parlak
Scholars, experts, and officials gathered in Istanbul on Saturday to discuss a landmark new report on the global Muslim diaspora at a workshop called "Muslim Diaspora: Expectations, Global Peace and Challenges for Prosperity".
Attended by various authorities on the diaspora from North Africa, Asia, and the Middle East along with international organizations and NGO representatives, the workshop aimed to obtain detailed and objective data about Muslim communities dwelling in non-Muslim countries.
Musa Kulaklikaya, head of the Statistical Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC), which co-organized the workshop, told Anadolu Agency that their main aim was to create an atlas of the global Muslim diaspora.
"We assessed a number of aspects such as population, financial conditions, education level, cultural status, participation in politics, sociological image, integration to the environment, and loyalty," he said.
Saying that the workshop allowed Muslims in the diaspora to express themselves, he added:
"Given that these people are part of the community and citizens, there will be no global peace if we can't secure integration. Should both sides put prejudices aside, the contribution of Muslims to foreign countries will be higher. When given the opportunity, Muslims improve society.
“People build up the places they migrated to and improve trade. Scientists contribute to science, doctors bring their vocational skills. In the U.K. alone, there are some 10 Muslim mayors. There are numerous Muslim ministers in different countries, and many lawmakers."
Kulaklikaya said they carried out surveys in Germany, Britain, and France for the Muslim diaspora report, in addition to roundtable meetings with academics, policymakers and Muslim NGOs.
Kulaklikaya lamented that, according to the report results, they witnessed the same results in all three countries: Muslims are subjected to discrimination. "In terms of enjoying religious life, expressing identity, freedom and rights, Muslims in Britain are in better condition," he said, adding that there was still unfairness.
"Another aim of the workshop is to create an opportunity for cooperation between diaspora institutions in Islamic countries. We want a mechanism to exchange views," he explained.
Sayit Yusuf, vice president of the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YBT), the other event organizer, spotlighted the rising hostility towards Islam and discrimination in Europe and called on Islamic countries to cooperate.
"This wave of migration gravitating towards Europe, which has affected the European public, triggered issues such as racism and hostility towards Islam. Some leaders in Europe have unfortunately encouraged this discrimination, but the Muslim world has not been silent. The YBT is the official diaspora organization of Turkey, and we are in cooperation with establishments and institutions from the Islamic diaspora. We want to act jointly against racism and discrimination," he said.
* Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from Ankara