How much Allah can the old continent bear?

Switzerland’s recent vote to ban the construction of new minarets has shocked and angered Muslims around the world. But the controversial move also reflects a growing sense of unease among other Europeans who have trouble coming to terms with Islam’s increased visibility.

This article examines the state of Islam in the public sphere of many Western European countries, regarding symbols, values, the relationship with non-Muslims and politics of recognition. It discusses Switzerland’s disturbing vote on minarets and the huge divide within its society, Germany’s fear – and lack of knowledge – of Islam, the British paradox of both integration and exclusion, the French burqa-debate and culture clashes in Belgium.