January 14, 2007

In Europe, Mistrust of Islam Is Becoming Mainstream

From In Europe, Mistrust of Islam Is Becoming Mainstream: A squabble over construction of the first mosque in formerly communist East Berlin is becoming the latest flash point between Muslims intent on asserting a strong identity in Europe and Europeans increasingly fearful that their secular societies are threatened by Islamic fundamentalism. The fight also highlights a new willingness to confront Muslims emerging not only in Germany but across the continent. Spain and Italy have been the scene of similar attempts to block mosques. Mistrust of Islam, once the provenance of cranks, is becoming mainstream. Opposition to the Berlin mosque comes not just from ultra-rightists, but from apolitical residents who see no reason why they should welcome a Muslim sect that preaches subservience of women and the supremacy of religious law. "Why should we be giving welcome to a group that hates German values and considers Christianity to be its enemy?" asked Joachim Swietlik, spokesman for the group opposed to the mosque. "Our concern isn't based on their skin color or their countries [of origin]. It's based on their contempt for the ideals of our liberal-democratic society."