Six exhibits that show Europe and Islam's common history

Culture & Entertainment
Belgium Brussels_art exhibit_Tirage Eternel by Naji KamoucheTirage Eternel by Naji Kamouche. This contemporary artwork illustrates the links between Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Popular rhetoric in Europe has it that the Muslim presence there is a result of successive waves of immigration in the second half of the twentieth century. This has led to the belief that European and Islamic civilizations “are fundamentally foreign to each other and are constrained in an uneasy coexistence,” according to Francois Henrard, Project Manager of a new exhibition, “Islam, It’s Also Our History!” in Brussels, Belgium.

Challenging the common view of a clash of civilisations, Henrard describes the exhibition as a “civilization exhibition” about the legacy of 13 centuries of Muslim culture in Europe. The exhibition is supported by several institutions, such as the Belgian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the City of Brussels. But the main sponsor of the exhibition is the European Commission via its Culture Programme.

“[T]hese two civilizations are not foreign to each other,” Henrard told My Salaam. “They emerged from a common spiritual and intellectual root, hold to a similar scriptural origin and acknowledge the same philosophical legacy. Their interconnection over 13 centuries of secular history has resulted in both violence and peace but has always been richly influential for both parties. Without this interconnectedness, neither Europe nor Islam would be what they are today.”

The exhibition will be presented in Italy and Germany and may move on to France and Spain. A smaller version of the exhibition is on display in Bosnia-Herzegovina before going to Bulgaria.

Here are some of the significant exhibits on display:

1. Tirage Eternel by Naji Kamouche. This contemporary artwork illustrates the links between Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Belgium Brussels_art exhibit_Tirage Eternel by Naji Kamouche

2. Interactive video game on the topic of food. Players will discover which food was introduced in Europe by the Muslim countries.

Belgium Brussels_art exhibit_Interactive video game

3. The colonies during the First World War. Includes propaganda posters, photographs of Muslim soldiers and military uniforms.

Belgium Brussels_art exhibit_The colonies during World War 1

4. Posters advertising products from the colonies (such as oranges and dates) and promoting trips to North Africa and the Middle East

Belgium Brussels_art exhibit_posters advertising

5. The Muslims in the West developed distinct religious, military and civilian architectures. Exhibition of white marble capitals from the Medina Azahara (Cordoba, Spain)

Belgium Brussels_art exhibit_religious architecture

6. Silhouettes - Yves-Saint-Laurent

Belgium Brussels_art exhibit_Silhouettes - Yves-Saint-Laurent

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