The Rise of Islamophobia in Europe after Martin Luther and the Relationship between East and West

By: Tugrul Kurt  

The making of Europe as a political and ideological unity is based on the fear of the expansion of the Islamic empire from the 8th century on. The Christian West defines himself and his unity by constructing an enemy. This enemy, namely Islam and the Muslims, grounded not only on religious arguments, surely political and economic reasons, such as the Mediterranean cost and trade line being under the control of the Muslims, were important factors for this potential threat. In the 16th century, with the rise of Martin Luther and his Protestantism, a new era of islamophobia was born. Martin Luther was one of the first western scholars who tried to translate the Quran into the native language, obviously not to understand it, but to show the falsity of it. By doing this, he transferred the theological and apologetic discourse of the Western earlier scholars concerning the falsity of Islam to the level of the common people. The accessibility of the Quran in a European language, moved a new enemy to the forefront of attention. Luther and his followers used an theological jargon by arguing against Islam. This approach of him, caused a wide ranged critical discourse towards Islam in an academic level. Until today Islamophobia has a fertile ground and determines the Western view towards Islam. To understand this attitude and the Islamophobia and relationship between East and West in general, it is necessary to reconstruct the Ottoman- European relations until the century and to analyze Martin Luther’s methodology.

Islamophobia, Martin Luther
The Politics of Religion
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Tugrul Kurt

Research Associate, Institute for the Study of Islamic Culture and Religion, Frankfurt Goethe University, Germany