In Pittburgh, a Turkish group, pious but peaceful, decides to rethink its plans for an Islamic centre after an angry public hearing. In Clitheroe, a town in northern England, a plan to turn an ex-church into a mosque wins planning approval after seven failed bids. In Austria a far-rightist, J_rg Haider, grabs headlines by proposing that no mosques or minarets should be built in the province of Carinthia, where he is governor. In Memphis, Tennessee, Muslims manage to build a large cemetery despite local objections to their burial customs. On the face of it, there is something similar about all these vignettes of inter-faith politics in the Western world. They all illustrate the strong emotions, and opportunistic electoral games, that are surfacing in many countries as Muslim minorities, increasingly prosperous and confident, aspire to build more mosques and other communal buildings.
Concerned about Islam’s image problem in much of the Western world, some Muslims in Germany have come up with a solution — The Islamobile. But the mobile information station also raises new questions. The Islamobile stands next to the local Catholic church. The stand is “a mobile multimedia information point in the form of a semi-trailer,” according to the information leaflet.