Letter to the editor published in Politico Europe here on April 18 2016, in the aftermath of the Brussels terror attacks :


I was shocked to see that Leon de Winter’s opinion piece “Europe’s Muslims hate the West” (March 29) was the most shared article on POLITICO’s website days after the Brussels attacks.

Even if Europe had 1,000 Muslim terrorists they would represent only an insignificant percentage of the Muslim population living in the EU. But alarmingly enough, claiming that all Europe’s Muslims “hate the West” was eye-catching enough for 13,000 readers to share the article.

I recently co-organized the “Syrians Got Talent” concert, a show that moved Brussels residents to tears. On the day of the Brussels attacks, two of the Syrian refugees immediately called to ask if I was safe. And when Yamen, another young refugee found a set of house keys in Brussels, he called me for advice on how to find the owner — and this is a man who has no house himself.

Muslims are not more anti-Semitic than other groups (notably the skinheads who descended on the Bourse to do Nazi salutes) nor are they substantially more homophobic, as Doctor Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, a gay imam, has documented. And they are not after “our wallets.” In fact, countries like Germany have benefited from opening their borders to Muslims to boost the shrinking working-age population.

Finally, researchers from Utrecht have established that, among Europe’s Muslims, those who are most devout are actually most tolerant. After all, most European fighters who join ISIL are brainwashed online — they barely went to mosque.

I’m the proud son of a European Muslim. My father, under the dangerous name of Alaa Ahmed El-Ghoneimi, is a dedicated surgeon and the recent recipient of France’s Légion d’Honneur. He wakes up at 6 a.m. every day to save lives. And yes, he does pay taxes.

We need to be humble and break this so-called “us” versus “them” divide. Let us stand “united in diversity,” just like my European Arab parents have in these dark, challenging times.

Schams El-Ghoneimi

Middle East foreign policy adviser at the European Parliament