EUROPE'S MUSLIMS TREATED AS OUTSIDERS
- EUROPE'S MUSLIMS TREATED AS OUTSIDERS
Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post, 11/27/03
Fatima Yaakoub, 24 years old, born in Morocco, living in the
Netherlands since she was 12, says she wants nothing more than to fit
in. She works hard, cleaning offices in the early mornings, going to
college during the day, taking English classes on weekends -- trying
to get ahead, trying to do what is expected of a good citizen in her
But three years ago, she began wearing a head scarf, the sign of a
devout Muslim woman, and got a rapid education on how much of an
outsider she remains.
Whenever she left her largely Muslim immigrant neighborhood, she
discovered that the scarf, known in Arabic as a hijab, marked her as
a subjugated Muslim woman, a foreigner, or buitenlander in Dutch. And
since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the discovery of
al Qaeda cells among Western Europe's 15 million Muslims, Yaakoub has
found that the scarf raises suspicions among native Dutch that she is
a terrorist, a threat.
"They treat me like trash," Yaakoub said
Yaakoub's experience offers a glimpse into the conflict between
Europe's historically Christian, increasingly secular societies and
the large -- and often alienated -- Muslim populations.
Many of the Muslims were invited here three decades ago as cheap
temporary workers who would one day go home. But they stayed on and
became an integral part of European society, making Islam the
continent's second-largest religion. Today it is common to see a
mosque near a medieval church; Arab restaurants and food stores
abound on inner-city streets.
Muslims represent the fastest growing-group in Europe, a boom fueled
by high birth rates as much as immigration. But on average they
remain far behind the traditional populations economically and
While Europe is slowly moving away from its Christian roots, with
church attendance in decline, many of its Muslims cling strongly to
their faith and are asserting their right to live openly according to
their religious beliefs. For governments that hold that religion and
government must be separate, this can bring important policy
challenges and accusations of favoritism
MUSLIM MOSQUE ATTACKED IN NORTHERN FRANCE
Agence France Presse, 11/26/03
Vandals tried to set alight to a mosque in northern France Tuesday
night and scrawled two swastikas on its walls, police in the port of
The attackers sprayed an inflammable liquid over the doors of the
Omar al-Farouk mosque in Dunkirk town centre and set it on fire, but
the blaze was quickly put out. No-one was in the building at the
Police called to the scene found two upside-down swastikas on the
"This is the first time there has been an act of violence and an
arson attempt against a mosque in Dunkirk. Whoever did it chose the
end of Ramadan to make his point," said Bahssine Saaidi, president of
the regional Islamic council.
"But the friendly relations which we enjoy with the Jewish and
Christian communities must not be allowed to suffer," he said.
FRENCH SCHOOL EXPELS 12-YEAR-OLD FOR REFUSING TO REMOVE ISLAMIC HEAD
Associated Press, 11/27/03
A French school on Thursday expelled a 12-year-old girl who refused
to remove her Islamic head scarf in class, a family acquaintance
The girl of Moroccan origin was the latest pupil caught in a wide-
ranging debate in France over the nation's separation of state and
church and rules that forbid "ostentatious" symbols of religion in
Thomas Milcent, a convert to Islam who has been advising the girl's
parents, said a disciplinary commission at the Charles-Walch school
in Thann, in eastern France's Upper Rhine region, expelled her
for "aggravated proselytizing and disturbing public order."
School authorities refused to comment. The school's regulations
forbid pupils from wearing head gear, including berets and caps.
Several girls have been expelled from public schools this year for
wearing the scarves.
Politicians are divided on whether France needs a law to enforce bans
on wearing head scarves in schools and public offices.
Some proponents argue that Islamic fundamentalists are encouraging
women and girls to wear head scarves, chipping away at France's
But opponents fear a law would marginalize France's estimated 5
million Muslims, the largest Muslim community in Western Europe.
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