Saturday, October 21, 2006

European Muslims worry about frank new Islam debate

World: Interesting choice of words in this Reuters article.

PARIS (Reuters) - Britain's heated debate about Islamic veils reflects a growing frustration with Muslims in Europe that risks further isolating these minorities rather than integrating them, leading European Muslim activists say. The new tone in Britain, which Muslims on the continent long saw as a model of tolerance where criticising minorities was politically incorrect, marks a watershed in the way Europeans talk about Islam, they told Reuters. Islamist radicalism, ethnic segregation and clashes of values must be discussed openly, they agreed, but the increasingly polarised debate squeezes out moderates on both sides. Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw sparked off the debate this month by saying the full facial veils some Muslim women wear hindered integration. Some Muslim leaders called his remarks offensive and accused him of whipping up Islamophobia. "Intolerance is growing in Europe," said Dalil Boubakeur, president of France's Muslim Council, who saw the new mood as a response to security fears and the radicalisation of a small minority of Muslims who do not accept European values. "There is a sense we are living in a different time," said Dilwar Hussain, head of policy research at the Islamic Foundation in Britain. "With all the security concerns, people feel they can be more frank," Hussain said. "The reaction from Muslims is to recede further and further into a sense of victimhood."
Perhaps the problem in the first place was being politically correct and allowing various incidents and feelings to mount up till they no longer could be contained because people were frustrated.

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