Hope for Muslims in Europe?

President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo on Thursday may or may not succeed in rebuilding America’s fractured relationship with the Muslim world. But the US leader’s clear respect for Islam and Muslims as well as his plea for partnership, tolerance and respect for other faiths are music to the ears of many European Muslims who live in the hope that their own leaders will be able — one day — to celebrate diversity with equal passion and sincerity. They may have to wait a long time. European leaders — with some notable exceptions such as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair — rarely praise, honour or even mention their 20-million strong Muslim minority in public speeches. True, many European governments now promote ‘intercultural dialogue’ and hold ‘inter-faith’ meetings to build bridges with their Muslim population. But these often tend to be formal, almost ritualistic affairs, with little in terms of practical follow-up. Shada Islam reports