News Agencies – December 27, 2011
Thirty war graves of Muslim soldiers who fought in World War I have been attacked and defaced in the southern city of Carcassonne. Racist insults and swastikas were painted on the graves, which are identified by the Islamic symbols of the star and crescent.
Slogans including “France for the French” and “Arabs out” were painted on some of the gravestones, reported daily newspaper Le Figaro.
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.