"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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Full Name: Hussain Khan, Tokyo
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Fast Spread of Islam in the West after 9/11
By Hussain Khan, Tokyo
Since the end of Worl War II and the mass immigration of Muslims to Western countries since 1980s, Islam has been spreading rapidly in these countries through conversions, immigration and the increasing birth rate of Muslims.  The White population in the West is diminishing fast due to their falling birth rates, which is less than 2.0.  It means they cannot replace themselves due to lack of more than two childern to replace their parents.
Failure of Fascim, Communism, Capitalism and all other man-made idealogies along with the failure of Christianity to fight materialism and secularism and to satisfy the spiritual hunger created by the vicittitudes of modern life in the West, as lamented by Pope Benedict, is also an important factor which has created a demand for a divine guidance and an idealogy and religion like Islam.
Vast literature on Islam has now become available in English and other European languages, which is leading to conversions.  Personal contacts with the immigrant Muslims and important events in the Muslim world, LIKE THE EMERGENCE OF PAKISTAN IN 1947 BASED ON RELIGION, LOSS OF PALESTIAN HOMELAND TO ISRAEL IN 1948, IRANIAN REVOLUTION OF IMAM KHOMENI, DEFEAT OF SOVIET UNION BY AFGHAN MUJAHEDEEN, have also attracted attention to study Islam in the West.
Especially after 9/11, the interest in Islam has grown too much all over the world and has led to mass conversions in the West. Although a lot of pious Muslim do not want to believe it, yet if the CIA version of these 9/11 events is supposed to be true, it means that the Bush Administration wants to establish the blessings or Barakah of Jihad in the Muslim minds, as the results and statistics reveal, 19 Jihadis have changed the world of Islam by sacrifising their precious lives to wage Jihad against the injustices perpetrated under Western and/or American-inspired conspiracies against Muslims all over the world.
In his article in Jang daily of 8th July, Dr. Nur Hussain Afzal has referred to a report in Time weekly and quoted figures from various Muslim sources showing fast spread of Islam in Europe.  He has quoted that Islamic Foundation in Britain, under the supervision of Prof. Khurshid Ahmad, has reported that there are about 25 million Muslims in Europe, out of which 11.5 million are in Russia.  Another report by Dr. Mahmud Siddiqi Saadi of Muslim Minority Board in Europe claims that the UN report of 21 million Muslims in Eurpe is wrong and the correct figure is 42 millions.
He has further reported that there were only 13 mosques in England in 1963, but after 30 years, these have increased to over 575 by 1993, and now these are much more than 600 catering for the needs of over 2 million Muslim in England.
According to Dr.Afzal, there are over 6 million Muslims in France and over 600 mosques and over 1400 Muslim organizations over there.  Over 100,000 French have accepted Islam during the last few years.  In Italy, there are one million Muslims, 450 Mosques and over 80,000 Italians have entered Islam in the last few years. An Italian magazine, "The Journal" has predicted that during the next 200 years entire Europe will be Muslim. There are 4 million Muslims in Germany, 1400 Mosques and they are 3.7% od total German population.
There are other 3 reports in Time weekly, one from a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution and one from Harun Yahya Home-page, ALL REPRODUCED BELOW,  about Muslims in the West
Hussain Khan
Acceptance of Islam in Western Countries by Dr.Noor Hussain Afzal
An Urdu article published in the daily Jang, Karachi, a summary of which is given above
The Rapid Spread of Islam in America  by Harun Yahya (Turkey)
The Future of Europe in Islam   by H.A. HELLYER
Dr. H.A. HELLYER is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. He is also an Associate Fellow of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations at the University of Warwick (UK). His new book on European Muslim communities is due to be published by Edinburgh University Press in 2007. For more information, visit

Breaking Through  By CARLA POWER

The American Exception  By Peter Skerry

What the Pope Gets Right ...  By Richard John Neuhaus

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Developments After 9/11
Muslims in America
Muslims in the American Army
American Government Officials and Politicians are Intrested in Islam
Islam in the American Media
The Qur'an Has Become the Best Selling Book in America
The Rise Of Islam Will Continue

Muslims in America

There are between 6 and 7 million Muslims in America today. In other words, Muslims outnumber some Christian denominations and are equal to the number of Jews. Research done in the year 2000 by prominent American universities and Islamic foundations show that the number of Muslims is increasing rapidly and that Islam is growing stronger day by day.

The above graphic representation shows the rising numbers of mosques in America.

The main theme of this research, known as the Mosque Study Project, is the establishment of mosques in America. The reason for this is that mosques occupy a very special place in any statistical compilations done with regard to the American Muslim community. Mosques in America are both houses of worship and gathering places for talking with one another and launching cultural activities to make Islam more widely known. Every mosque establishes a relationship with the press to introduce Islam to a wider audience, speaks with local politicians, visits schools and churches, engages in interfaith dialogue and carries on other such activities. Thus, research done on these mosques is one of the most useful tools for gathering accurate and enlightening information on this community's state.

According to this research, America now has about 1,209 mosques, most of which were constructed very recently. Thirty percent of these mosques were built in the 1990s, and 32% were built in the 1980s. Other statistics show that in 1994, the total number of mosques in America was 962; in 2000, there was a 25% increase in this number.

 These data show a natural parallel with the growing number of Muslims. For example, according to determinations made in 1994, the number of Muslims attending mosque services was 500,000; in 2000, this figure had increased to 2 million-an approximately 300% increase. A significant part of this number is composed of people who converted to Islam. The same research shows that about 30% of those worshippers are converts. According to these data, about 20,000 Americans accept Islam every year.44

The above figures are the result of research done before 9/11 and rely on data from the year 2000. In 2001, especially after 9/11, these figures have increased several fold.

Above we see pictures of mosques in various states.

This rapid growth of Islam in America is related in a news article, "Islam Is Growing in America," on the American army Internet site (www.defenselink. mil)

 Muslims, those who believe in Islam, are everywhere in the United States. They may be your doctor or drive your taxi. They may serve you in restaurants or advise you in law. And they increasingly may be in the same foxhole, manning the same position or working on the same aircraft as you "¦ In the United States, Islam is the fastest growing religion "¦45
An important indication of Islam's rapid growth in America is the increasing number of schools offering an Islamic education. A New York Times report on New York's Islamic schools tells of the students' intense interest. (Right) San Diego's Muslims, as well as many others in America, were faced with a barrage of questions after 9/11. This appeared in a report entitled "Muslims bridge religious gaps by teaching more about faith." (Above) A report on the Worldnet Daily Internet site states that after 9/11, students joined special educational programs to learn more about Islam. They were required to memorize Qur'anic verses and study Islamic history. (Middle) A report in The Oregonian, entitled "New Focus: Exploring Islam and Its Traditions," gives general information about American Muslims and Islam. (Below) In the above edition of the New York Times, a report entitled "Ramadan Enters New York City School Life" tells about the special Ramadan arrangements made in New York district schools for Muslim students.

A New York Times article, "Islam Attracts Converts by the Thousands," contains interviews with converts, analyzes Islam's rapid rise in America, and states:

 With some 6 million adherents in the United States, Islam is said to be the nation's fastest-growing religion, fueled by immigration, high birth rates and widespread conversion. One expert estimates that 25,000 people a year become Muslims in this country; some clerics say they have seen conversion rates quadruple since Sept. 11.46

 An ABC News segment, "Islam: Rising Tide in America," reported that some sociologists predict that within 15 years there will be more Muslims than Jews in America.47

First chart we see the ethnic distribution of American Muslims. The great majority of America's Muslim population is South-Central Asian.Second chart on the right shows the rising mosque attendance rates by American Muslims. There has been a 77% increase. The fact sheet below, prepared by the U.S. Department of State, includes the main figures about Muslim life in America.

 The continually rising influence of Islam has provided better opportunities for Muslims living in America. One place where this growth and development is most noticeable is in Dearborn, Michigan. An article in the Detroit News about the spread of Islam, particularly in Dearborn, mentioned the city's growing number of mosques. But, according to the article, this is not the only sign of Islam's rising influence; the effects of this growth can be seen in restaurants, shopping centers, and hospitals. For the first time in Michigan, in a McDonald's restaurant, meals are available using meat cut according to Islamic law. Prominent supermarkets in Dearborn have begun to sell "halal" meat. Oakwood Hospital officials have started to adjust the hospital's meal service especially for Muslim patients. Moreover, throughout the month of Ramadan, the cafeteria's service hours are arranged to suit Muslims.48

 Like Dearborn, Muslims in Chicago are also quickly gaining influence. Here, the Muslim community is distinguished by its high level of education and prosperity. Research conducted in the 1990s demonstrated that 16% of the Muslim community's members were medical doctors, 33% were engineers, 44% had doctorate degrees, 84% had at least a bachelor's degree, and only 2% had less than a high school education. Moreover, Muslims' contributions to Chicago were highlighted. For example, the architect of the John Hancock Center and the Sears Tower was a Muslim: Dr. Fazlur Rahman. There is hardly a hospital without a Muslim doctor on its staff and there is hardly an engineering or electronic equipment manufacturer without Muslim engineers.49

(Above) A Florida Times report, "Finding Faith in Islam," tells about the converts' thoughts and ideas. A Seattle Times article entitled "Mosque overflows with faithful" reports that Seattle Muslims are crowding into their mosques. (Below) A report on the American Ministry of Defense's Internet site, entitled "Islam Growing in America," gives an account of the Muslims' increasing influence in American social life and introduces basic Islamic values.

 45. "Islam Growing in America," American Forces Information Service, October 4, 2001.
 46. The New York Times, October 22, 2001.
 47. Barr Seitz, "Islam Rising Tide in America,", http://www.jannah. org/articles/ islamicrise. html.
 48. The Detroit News, March 21, 2001.
 49. Islam in Chicago, Islam for Today, October 29, 1996.

The Future of Europe in Islam
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Does the Pope's vision of the future of Europe include the full participation of the Muslim communities? And how far should Muslims go in helping realize that vision?


'The Future of Europe In Islam': that was the title of the panel discussion that the Muslim Youth Helpline hosted almost a year ago in London. The controversial nature of the title was likely the point; in the year preceding it, most of the conferences relating to the Muslim community were incredibly depressing, and usually reactionary.

Not that one, where for once the problems regarding integration, radicalism and so forth were not the sole emphasis when discussing Europe and its Muslim communities. More positive attitudes emerged, with speakers indicating they had high hopes. High hopes for Muslim communities in Europe and high hopes for the contribution of Muslim Europeans to Islam, just as Muslim Arabs, Muslim Africans and Muslim Asians had contributed to Islam in the past.

But there was a clearly articulated thread that evening: they also had high hopes for Europe as a whole, as integral parts of it. They did not have any interest in building a Europe that they were not integral parts of.

I use the word "integralization" to describe a process by which communities do not "integrate", "assimilate" or "segregate" into/from their societies, but go beyond those paradigms. The basic premise is that an integral community is not a separate, distinct community from the mainstream, but is identifiable on the basis of its core principles. It is not so much the "melting pot" principle, but something a little different; instead of becoming another piece of lettuce in the salad bowl of society, the integral community is a vinegar that seasons and invigorates the whole salad in a subtle, yet deeply felt manner.

On Monday 24th September last year, the Pope met with a delegation of leaders from Muslim countries to discuss his recent comments in Germany that caused a huge uproar when he repeated the words of a medieval Byzantine Emperor that described the Prophet as violent. That saga is now thankfully no longer front-page news; the Pope went to Turkey in November, and essentially "buried the hatchet" with many Muslims by his great deference to the Muslim community during that visit.

Yet, the account of the reactions to the Pope's speech was surprising in that most did not realize that the most relevant long-term issue to Muslim communities was not this citation. Were the Pope intent on insulting Muslims, he would have chosen another forum to do so, and he certainly would not have retracted such comments. On the contrary, he could have made a harsher statement, and stuck to it, and likely receiving enough support from the European mainstream to make it bearable. (In this sense, Muslims responding with violence in some areas merely proved that they agreed with the violent image they were supposedly protesting about.)

The Pope certainly has a perspective on Islam and Muslims, which is based on five main points, as follows.

* In the Vatican's public policy Islam is not so much a violent threat, as it is an external non-European reality that Europe must engage with. Sometimes that engagement is positive. The Pope's political stances on the Muslim world are often in its favor: he opposed the war on Iraq; he opposed the Danish cartoons; and supported the people of Lebanon in its recent conflict with Israel. It does not appear he is aligning the Vatican with any existing negative political agenda elsewhere although, like much of the world, he fears radical violent tendencies.

* The Pope has decided to focus more on ecumenical activity within Christian groups (Orthodox, in particular) and less on dialogue with Islam than his predecessor; this is clear from his internal restructuring of the Vatican and its staff in this area. Most poignantly, in February of this year, he reassigned the Vatican's top experts on Islam from his position as the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to representing the Vatican to Egypt and the Arab League. This was a move seen by many to be a demotion, and his name was conspicuously missing from the list of appointments to the College of Cardinals revealed a few days before his reassignment. That Council was also merged with the Pontifical Council for Culture, instead of having its own distinct realm of responsibility.

* This Pope is a traditionalist who supported the reforms of Vatican II: i.e., he does not consider modernity to be completely beneficial, but accepts that the Church has to update itself in order to properly engage modernity. He may recognize Islam as a possible ally in that engagement, but at present, he separates that from the future of European civilisation.

* That qualified recognition is not unconditional; the Pope is cautious about the prospects of Islam being an ally against modernity without it engaging in some sort of re-interpretation process. At a private meeting earlier this year between the Pope and some of his consultants on Islam, he viewed the reconciliation between Islam and modernity to be possible, but difficult. It does not appear the Catholic Church favours a "Reformation" , for itself or Islam. Yet, just as the Church underwent Vatican II in the 1960s, it may positively envisage some sort of internal Muslim "Re-evaluation" .

* Beyond Europe, it is clear that the Catholic Church has realised that Muslims provide a serious alternative in Central and West Africa. Catholicism remains a missionary religion, and its sophistication does not (and need not) preclude its competing with Islam for converts.

None of this constitutes a "crusade" against Islam. Even while a re-evaluation idea could easily become quite dangerous, for even while it is clear modernity has wrought changes in the world that have yet to be comprehensively engaged with from within the Muslim world, what is modern-day radical extremism but a re-evaluation of Islam?

No, this very deeply European Pope is waging another crusade, and it is about Europe and Europe's soul. He has identified Europe as suffering from an internal crisis of identity: on what moral basis does Europe exist? His record, such as those collected in the discourse between him and the President of the Italian Senate in 'Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity and Islam', indicates he is anxious regarding the moral compass of Europe, for without it, European civilization is unsustainable. In particular, he identifies an ethical void in a continent where moral relativism has taken root, and which should be filled by an emphasis on the Christian roots of European ethical culture. In a continent where so many are struggling with the concept of what a cohesive, healthy society means in the absence of a common meta-narrative, this is a discussion that is slowly gaining support. It has traditionally been the domain of the far right (which explains its success lately), but it is fast becoming an issue of concern for the whole political spectrum.

The Pope's speech must be read in this light. He wants to save Europe from a moral void that cuts out what European values are based on. Muslim communities, as communities based on absolute moral codes, are appropriate partners in that endeavour. In that sense, his concern about moral relativism is not about Islam.

But actually, it is about Islam. Because in his speech, the Pope makes an implicit argument, which is explicit elsewhere: Islam has not been an integral part of past European civilization except as an external negative element, and the future is not going to be much different. Muslims can and should exist in peace and harmony, but their religion and their community are not indigenous and not an integral, positive part of the European story, past or present.

Somehow, most Muslim commentators inside and outside of Europe missed this, although one or two notable exceptions, such as Tariq Ramadan in the UK, and Habib 'Ali al-Jifri in the Emirates, alluded to this.

In reality, this is the element in the Vatican's present policy that will cause ripples for decades to come, as will similar policies in European states. Multiculturalism is being questioned by the European mainstream on the suspicion of being too relativistic. In the course of their negative response to the lack of an absolute in multiculturalism, many Europeans have decided that they must arrive at a rigid and narrow definition of a moral absolute on which to base their culture. In this mindset, the Muslim presence in Europe is problematic since, as an essentially foreign ingredient, it interrupts the reinforcement of the fabric of European identity. Inclusiveness is no longer a priority; the inclusion of many communities that do not fit into that pre-conceived mythical fabric is easily sacrificed.

Nor is historical accuracy; the rejection of the Muslim component in the building of European culture and heritage over 1400 years is left by the wayside in this discussion.

As Europe comes to the next phase of its history, there is certainly a discussion that must ensue as to the formation of its future. Europeans have accepted that respect for diversity and inclusion of difference is important (it took us long enough), and they are now at the stage of deciding how much respect and inclusion into what exactly.

If we are truthful about our history, then we will recognize that Islam and Muslims, amongst other elements, have played key roles in our development in the past: not only as limited external challenges as "Other", but also as integral positive ingredients as "Us". A European story based on a lie does not make for a good basis for the renewal of European civilization, and will be rejected by communities that do want to be a part of it.

Out of all those communities, it is the Muslim community who has the most to lose if it does not take the challenge of rejuvenating Europe from within seriously. If demographic projections are to be believed, the Muslim population in Europe will continue to be highly significant numerically, and if European society develops in a way that they are perpetually regarded as "the Other" from within, the results could be disastrous. This was, after all, the first phase in the long dehumanization process that led to the Holocaust, and to the destruction of Muslim communities in Spain centuries before.

If we are serious about rejuvenating Europe, we cannot entertain a superficial and shallow definition of what it means to be a European, relativizing it to the point of meaninglessness- it will not work. We also cannot allow ourselves to be cowed into accepting too narrow a demarcation that goes beyond restoring an ethical core.

Otherwise, we risk rejecting our real partners in building a better Europe for all Europeans, for tomorrow, and for the world.

Civilizations have always had to balance themselves in finding a mean. The Pope knows this well; that is, after all, his main argument. Where his argument becomes narrower is how that mean is arrived at. The historian Arnold Toynbee argued that the growth of every civilisation had two elements: a challenge, and a "creative minority" that could respond to that challenge. Who that "creative minority" will be in Europe is certainly not a foregone conclusion. All communities would do well to remember that.
____________ ________

Dr. H.A. HELLYER is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. He is also an Associate Fellow of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations at the University of Warwick (UK). His new book on European Muslim communities is due to be published by Edinburgh University Press in 2007. For more information, visit www.hahellyer. com
Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008

Breaking Through

TRAILBLAZER: Dutch attorney Arslan was mistaken for a cleaner on her first day in a new job. Now she has her own law practice in the Hague

When Famile Arslan showed up for her first day of work, the receptionist pointed her toward the broom closet. "'The cleaning supplies are over there,'" Arslan recalls being told. "I had to say, 'No, I'm not the cleaner. I'm the lawyer.'" In fairness to the receptionist, Arslan was making history that morning, as the first attorney to wear a hijab in the Netherlands. Ten years on, she has her own practice in the Hague. Her name's on the door, her cat Hussein pads around and a veiled assistant fields phone calls. "People keep telling me how successful I am," says Arslan. "But I'm not all that successful. Had I not been a migrant woman in a hijab, I could have gone much further." Still, when younger Muslims ask Arslan how to climb the professional ladder, she's optimistic. "If you think strategically, this is a great time to be a European Muslim," she argues. "Everyone's focused on us, so it's an opportunity "” if you take it."

For European Muslims, the era after Sept. 11, 2001, has been both the best and worst of times. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have strained relations between Europe's governments and its Muslims; there has been a rise in Islamophobic incidents; the specter of Islamic radicalism dominates media debates and shapes government policy. But the era in which Muslims became a feared minority also saw another trend: the rise of a Euro-Muslim middle class. A Gallup poll last year found European Muslims to be at least as likely to identify themselves as British, French or German as the general populations. Migrants' children have begun moving from corner shops and factory floors to offices. They swap business cards at Muslim networking events like Britain's Emerald Network or Holland's Toward a New Start, a group for Moroccans who, in the words of founder Ahmed Larouz, are "the sort of people who say, 'I want to be CEO of Philips.'" Parisian professionals go to Les Dérouilleurs, a networking salon whose name (the Un-Rusty Ones) jabs at the stereotype of les rouilleurs "” jobless Maghrebi youth "rusting away" in the banlieues.

That's all good news. More disheartening was news in January that the first person convicted under British laws targeting the preparation of terrorist acts was Sohail Qureshi, a 29-year-old dentist from London. That followed the arrest in Britain last summer of three doctors and an engineer on suspicion of attempting to strike Glasgow's airport with a car containing propane-gas canisters. This has challenged the stereotype of jihadis as disenfranchised madrasah students, presenting Europe with a troubling question: Why would those who have made a success of their professional lives be drawn to violent extremism?

The answer lies in the subtle nuances of Western Muslim lives. What non-Muslim Europeans often see as alienation among their Muslim populations is often integration in disguise. The second and third generation are more confident Europeans than their migrant parents "” and they're more confident Muslims, too. In the media, debates over Muslim women being allowed to wear veils in schools, courts and government jobs have been read as a clash between European and alien values. In fact, they're signs of Westernization, flaring up when the daughters of Muslim migrants, armed with European educations and passports, edge toward the mainstream. The debates over the veil are waged not by downtrodden housewives, but by women who are studying, teaching or working as lawyers.

Fatima Zibouh, a Ph.D. candidate and researcher at the University of Liège in Belgium, says her hijab is "not a flag or a symbol, merely a manifestation of my spiritual life." A British teaching assistant, sacked for wearing the face-covering niqab, invoked not Shari'a or tradition but her concern for the rights of career women: the ruling, she said, made her "fearful of the consequences for Muslim women in this country who want to work."

While headlines blare about jihadis, the vast majority of Muslims are spending their time, like other Europeans, at work. The war on terror may create tensions for European Muslims, but in globalized cities and sectors, the war for talent gives them opportunities. On Fridays, the shoe racks at the mosque near Paris' glittering corporate suburb, La Défense, are increasingly filled not just with migrants' sandals, but executives' lace-ups. Prayer rooms at London's multinationals are no longer used by migrant janitors and support staff, but by lawyers, accountants and bankers. Umar Aziz, a litigator in London, recalls a clutch of law firms courting a top-flight Muslim candidate. Aziz's firm, with its prayer room and strong Muslim community, had a clear edge. When a rival firm called and vowed to match any offer, the candidate said: "I'd like a prayer room and ablution facilities." They said they'd have to get back to him on that, so he went with Aziz's firm.

Such moxie is the preserve of the exceptionally talented. And it is far easier to be a practicing Muslim in a globalized London firm than in Denmark, where prayer rooms at work are controversial, or in those German states that have outlawed the hijab for government employees. Islam is traditionally a faith that shapes not just individual souls, but public life. That makes for difficulties. Many Muslims who want to thrive in the European mainstream feel they have to take their cue from Christians and make their faith a private matter, so that they become Protestantized, as it were, at the office. To get on at work, they need to leave their faith at the door. Both in the office and outside it, "Islam is only a problem when it becomes visible," says Omid Nouripour, a Muslim and a Green member of Germany's parliament.

It follows that for many European Muslims, professional success means compromise. Some have to deal with open prejudice. "We want nothing to do with Islam or Muslims," one law firm told Dutch attorney Arslan during her three-year job search. Particularly after terror attacks, stereotypes tend to bubble to the surface. French computer-systems analyst Mourad Latrech recalls huddling around a TV with his colleagues on 9/11. "What are those bastards doing?" said one, as the World Trade Center collapsed. "Oh ... Sorry, Mourad, I didn't see you standing there." Being lumped in with terrorists has become one of the great work-related hazards for Europe's Muslims. "It's not outright discrimination, " says Kamal Halawa, a Palestinian surgeon, who has lived in Spain for 40 years. "It's more like mistrust. You notice it in the way your [work] superiors treat you. You have to be continually demonstrating, day after day, that you are the same as everyone else."

The Pressure to Conform
Many Muslims make daily choices to blend into mainstream office culture. Consider the Dutch marketing consultant who drinks wine at client lunches. Or the British computer-graphics expert who says he's popping out for a sandwich rather than admit he's going to the mosque. Or Arslan, who had to jettison her cultural values to argue for a raise: "Modesty is an Islamic virtue, but if you're modest, you don't get anywhere in Europe." Just as working mothers do, Europe's Muslim professionals raise issues about white-collar workplace culture and its demands. Those who refuse to compromise "” like the female Muslim doctors or dentists who decide to stay at home rather than treat male patients "” explode old notions of what it means to be a professional. "If you're calling yourself a professional, you're saying you have a skill set that makes you competitive, valuable and a contributor, " says one young Muslim art curator. "But how much are you contributing if you're ghettoizing yourself? How valuable are you if you're not prepared to embrace the culture of an organization? "

Nowhere is the tension between work and faith more pronounced than in France. There, laïcité, or secularism, dictates that religion should be confined to the private sphere. Though the 1978 Islamic Revolution in Iran shattered the long-cherished view that modernization inevitably pushes people away from faith and toward secularism, French Muslim professionals say they often face the assumption from their colleagues that career success will have this effect. "If you're doing well, they assume you're one of them, and so you're secular," says Parisian Muslim Zoubeir Ben Terdeyet, a consultant with an international accounting firm. "Factories have prayer rooms, but for a professional to ask for time off work to go and pray? That shocks them."

Ben Terdeyet is more confident at work than many Muslims. He's not afraid to speak Arabic on the office phone. He doesn't feign illness when he's fasting for Ramadan, or beg off wine at lunch by claiming a headache. He founded the networking club Les Dérouilleurs because he wanted to prove that "it was possible to be a success in France without abandoning your Islamic principles." There's still a way to go, he says. He's envious of tales from London-based Muslims about company-sanctioned prayer breaks. "Ooh, la la," he says, rolling his eyes skyward, the very picture of Gallic consternation. "If I were to ask if I could go pray, the answer would be, 'Why should I do you a favor? Why are you so different from everyone else?' "

Increasingly, however, influential French voices see "diversity as an opportunity, not a problem," says Hakim El-Karoui, who along with Rachida Dati "” President Nicolas Sarkozy's Justice Minister "” founded the 21st Century Club for minority movers and shakers. A former speechwriter for Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, El-Karoui recalls working lunches during Ramadan when he'd cover his plate with his notebook, so Raffarin wouldn't notice he wasn't eating. Occasionally, he'd face the prejudice of exceptionalism: colleagues would refer to him as "a good Muslim," adding that "not all of them are like him." Now an investment banker at the Rothschild banking group in Paris, he finds his current work culture reassuringly cosmopolitan. "Since the Rothschild family is Jewish, they know better than anyone about respect for minorities," he says. "Diversity is a given for them."

Not so for many French employers. It's difference "” particularly visible difference "” that challenges laïcité. "The central issue for us is visibility," says Mohammed Colin, co-founder of SaphirNews, a French Muslim news and networking site. It would be "unthinkable, " says Colin, to have a veiled Muslim woman in a French ad "” and rare to see one at work. Those who can get jobs tend to work in back offices. As CEO of the French communications group CS, Yazid Sabeg is perhaps France's most prominent French-Arab businessman and the author of a study on workplace discrimination. Asked if any of his 4,000 employees wear the hijab, he says he remembers one who did, but adds that she wouldn't have had contact with clients: "I'm against wearing the hijab at work. Shows of religion just result in antagonism between the majority culture and minorities." Recruiters often ask Boujema Hadri, owner of the Paris-based employment agency Very Important Training, if a candidate with an Arab name wears the veil. "They know it doesn't affect women's job performance, " he says, "but they're scared." Employers recruit in their own image, he shrugs: "France wants clones "” people who look like them."

That said, there's evidence suggesting the evolution of a French hijab economy. "I'll tell recruiters, 'Take a veiled woman "” it's cheaper,'" says Hadri. In a country with 8% unemployment "” and over double that if you're young and have an Arab name "” it's hardly surprising, he says, that "the women don't care. They just want to work." Zeenath Simozrag is a Sorbonne-educated lawyer with two master's degrees and three languages, but it still took her six months to find a job, a fact she attributes to her wearing a head scarf. She now works in a small firm, earning $1,100 for a three-day week "” less than half the going rate for someone with her qualifications. When her boss has French-Arab clients, Simozrag is introduced as a colleague, but she says she's not introduced to white clients. Like many professional French Muslims, she has thought about leaving "” for Dubai, Malaysia, the U.S. or England, somewhere where she won't be forced to choose between a head scarf and a career.

The stereotyping can start early. Growing up Muslim in a Parisian banlieue, Najett Kaddouri was at the top of her school class every year. When she told teachers she wanted to be a doctor, they'd respond: "Najett, that's just a dream. Think about something you could realistically do." She recalls: "I thought, 'I'm better than the white people in my class. I can do it.'" Eventually she did, but faced hurdles when she donned the hijab. Kaddouri had wanted to wear it since she was 15, but knew that French law meant she had to choose between covering her head and getting an education. "It wasn't just ambition that made me feel education was more important than wearing it, but my religion," she says. "The first word that God said to our Prophet was 'Read.' God gave me intelligence, and I didn't want to waste it."

By 25, Kaddouri was doing well enough at work that she dared to start wearing a head scarf. Her parents, Moroccan migrants, were alarmed. Their brilliant daughter would risk her job over the hijab? Couldn't she just wear it at home? "Don't worry, I know what I'm doing," Kaddouri told them. In some hospitals, nobody minded. But at one, she was asked to remove her scarf. "It's personal," she insisted, mindful that she couldn't say it was religious. She began wearing a surgery cap, until the hospital passed a rule "” "designed for me," claims Kaddouri "” banning head coverings of any kind. Suspended for five weeks for breaking the rule, she took the hospital to court for discrimination. Jean-Pierre Burnier, the hospital's chief administrator, defends the decision to suspend her. "[Under laïcité], public services like hospitals have a responsibility to respect [religious] neutrality," he says. "This wasn't just a boss's whim." Two years on, the tribunal's decision is pending, and Kaddouri works as a doctor in other hospitals, wearing a hijab.

Bridging the Divides
Muslims in Britain don't face laïcité, but they must cope with a local tradition held perhaps just as dearly: drinking. "The pub is an important place for bonding and networking in British culture," says Asim Siddiqui, a London accountant. "If you're a Muslim who doesn't drink, it can make it harder to climb up the professional ladder." Looking for an alternative to after-work beers, Siddiqui founded the City Circle, a lecture and charity group aimed at Muslim professionals. On Friday nights, well-heeled Muslims come straight from their offices to nurse cups of tea and catch, say, a Muslim comic doing stand-up, or a lecture on Sufi poetry. Go to a City Circle talk and you won't see a defensive minority turning inward, but educated Britons with the confidence to be self-critical. The week after the July 7, 2005 bombings in London, the weekly panel discussion was boldly topical: "The criminal distortion of Islamic texts."

In the current climate, speaking freely can provoke attacks. Riazat Butt, the religious affairs correspondent at the Guardian newspaper in London, says her major career hurdles came from her own Muslim community: "I've experienced more prejudice and hostility from Muslims than from non-Muslims. Sometimes they get really hostile, saying, 'You're working for the enemy.'" While reporting articles, she's been called a whore, a traitor and a disgrace to Islam.

Such comments reveal a bitter dilemma. Many Muslims, particularly in Britain, feel caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Criticize the radicals, and they're turncoats; criticize the government, and they're unpatriotic. Last year, a group of prominent Muslims sent a soberly worded open letter to then Prime Minister Tony Blair, arguing that British foreign policy fueled extremism. Government ministers denounced the letter, one calling it "dangerous and foolish." The reaction showed that "well-adjusted, contented and successful British Muslims are considered the biggest traitors of all by the powerful in the British state," wrote columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the Independent newspaper. "A new abominable social contract is being offered to us. If you Muslims want to be accepted here, you must ... be prepared for an endless conflict or a life in the shadowy margins where you will be kept confined and contained."

Yet though British Islam is known as a religion of protest for alienated youths, it has also been the catalyst of a powerful work ethic. Islam in Britain, writes sociologist Tariq Modood, has been "finely poised between a religion of the ghetto and a religion of social mobility." For Farhan Qureshi, it was watching Woody Allen's films that inspired him to become a movie director. But Islam provided practical and spiritual spurs to success. Waking up on cold English winter mornings to perform Fajr, the dawn prayer, gave him an extra half-hour to write before setting off for his job as an engineer. Islam, he says, also reassured him that his screenwriting efforts were worthwhile: "It teaches you that good work that one does from the heart won't be wasted."

That's a truth that non-Muslim Europeans might do well to remember; after all, in Europe's Dark Ages, it was great European Muslim universities like the one in Córdoba that kept the lamp of learning alight. Islam's stress on education helped propel London barrister Azeem Suterwalla through Oxford and Harvard. "My religion gives me drive and purpose," he says, and it has also helped shape his political and professional views, giving him "a feeling of obligation" to help the Muslim umma. It was a concern about the state of Muslims in Gaza and Kashmir that spurred Suterwalla to become a barrister "” and such instincts can, of course, curdle into resentment, even radicalism. "I'm trying to make a difference in a positive way," says Suterwalla. "But there are those who don't know how to cope with it, when they see what's going on in the news." Radicalized fellow Muslims think he's fooling himself by tackling injustice through the courts. "They tell me, 'You're working within the system that is not compatible with Islam,'" he says. "Even some very well-educated people are attracted to radical groups, because of what they see as injustice. The middle class is not immune."

That was underscored when the main suspects in the Glasgow Airport bomb plot turned out to be doctors. According to a 2004 study by Marc Sageman, a former CIA officer and forensic psychiatrist, the stereotype of the jihadi as poor and uneducated needs revision. Of 400 terrorist suspects studied, he found that three-quarters were middle-class or upper-class, with many employed in the sciences or technology. University students and professionals attracted to the rigorous theology of radical Islamist organizations like Hizb ut-Tahrir find in them the same structured, mechanistic precision they've learned to apply on the job to hard drives or computer models. In his recent book about life inside Hizb ut-Tahrir, British Muslim Ed Husain contrasts the aggressive, intolerant Islam he found in Hizb ut-Tahrir to the "Islam of the heart," the tolerant, humanistic Sufism of his migrant parents. In modern Islamic radicalism, custom and humanism are jettisoned in favor of logic and politics. Hizb ut-Tahrir, which targets youth on college campuses, promotes itself as the thinking Muslim's alternative to blindly following parents, mullahs or tradition.

Why would the angry radicalism of groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir appeal to some successful Muslims? Middle-class Muslims don't face poverty, but they can feel a disconnect between their white-collar jobs and their Muslim home lives. "You can still feel alone in a crowd," says Mona Siddiqui, director of the University of Glasgow's Centre for the Study of Islam. "You can spend a lot of time with colleagues and professionals from a completely different culture to you, really nice people to work with, but with whom you don't feel any emotional connection. You have to constantly turn inward, and your circle becomes smaller and smaller." Navigating the gap between a European workplace and the expectations of a migrant community can be intensely stressful, says Fuad Nahdi, a commentator and consultant on Muslim issues to Blair's government: "In terms of alienation, nothing succeeds like success." For Muslims who have made it, the loneliness of the corner office can be a cold contrast to the camaraderie of the mosque.

So this is the disquieting risk facing Europe: that the fallout from violence wreaked by alienated terrorists can create still more alienation among peaceful, moderate professionals. Martijn de Koning, an anthropologist at the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World in Leiden, the Netherlands, interviewed a group of twentysomething Dutch Muslims before the 2004 murder of Theo van Gogh by a young Dutch Moroccan angry at the filmmaker's on-screen portrayal of Islamic culture. Back then, De Koning found his subjects were outraged by the fact that it was tough to be Muslim in the Netherlands. By contrast, three years on from the Van Gogh affair, he found apathy, a dulled acceptance by the successful Muslims he interviewed that no matter what they do, they'll never be Dutch. "These aren't disenchanted youth," he says. "They're well educated, and they have jobs. They feel they've done everything right, and still they're rejected."

Famile Arslan has an answer "” both for Muslims in Europe who feel beaten down, and for non-Muslim Europeans struggling to navigate the unexpected shoals of a continent with many faiths and many ethnicities. When her more radical Muslim friends talk to her of alienation, she crisply dismisses them. "They keep telling me, 'They're against us.' And I say, 'Guys, who are they? And who is us?'" When all "” Muslim or not "” can agree that they're one and the same, Europe will finally be able to move on.

With reporting by Lisa Abend/Madrid, Jumana Farouky/London and Rhea Wessel/Frankfurt  

  Copyright ? 2008 Time Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Monday, Aug. 14, 2006

The American Exception

How concerned should Americans be about homegrown terrorism in the U.S.? In the face of another plot by British Islamists, it's worth keeping in mind that America's Muslim community is strikingly different from those in Britain and the rest of Europe.

The first difference is in relative numbers. The most authoritative estimate of the number of Muslims in the U.S. is between 2 million and 3 million--less than 1% of the total population. In France, Muslims constitute about 8% to 9%; in the Netherlands, about 5.6%; in Germany, 3.6%; and in Britain, just under 3%.

More important, Muslims in Europe are concentrated in highly visible enclaves. In Brussels, for example, Muslim women and children beg on the streets and in the subways. And for blocks along the Avenue de Stalingrad, scores of cafés and stores are crowded with Muslim men--and no women. The only comparable sight in the U.S. might be in certain neighborhoods of Detroit and nearby Dearborn, Mich. But that would be the exception. American Muslims tend to be university-educated professionals living in the suburbs.

To be sure, many Islamist terrorists have come from well-off, integrated families. But the U.S. Muslim community is less likely to breed disaffection, because it is extremely diverse. In fact, it is probably the most diverse in the world, hailing from many parts of the globe, speaking numerous languages and practicing several different versions of Islam. This makes it less likely that any one group will dominate and more likely that each subgroup will adapt to its new surroundings.

The most vital difference between Muslims in America and their brethren in Europe is the U.S.'s enduring emphasis on religious liberty. Religion is accorded far more respect in the public realm in the U.S. than in Europe. Think about it. We are in the midst of a rancorous debate over immigration in which many Americans reject "hyphenated identities" like Mexican-American as a threat to national cohesion. Yet while evangelical Christian, Catholic and Jewish Americans may disagree vehemently among themselves, the religious basis of their identity is not seriously questioned by anyone. If Muslim Americans are not so readily accepted today, it is not because they are believers. In Europe, by contrast, Muslims are resented and marginalized precisely because their religion threatens strong secular values.

In practice, America's religious liberty means that here there are very few--and no seriously divisive--disputes over Muslim head scarves. Religious liberty in the U.S. is also evident in the 250 or so full-time Muslim schools operating in America--about double the number in Britain, which has roughly the same number of Muslims. And in France there are only a handful of Muslim schools--at last count, three.

In the same vein, Muslim political advocacy groups are much more visible and influential in the U.S. than in Europe. Walk into the headquarters of the Islamic Society of North America on the outskirts of Indianapolis, Ind., for example, and you will see stacks of religious literature ready to be mailed. But you will also see stacks of thick guides to the IRS code. Setting up and running their own religious institutions gives Muslims a stake in the society while teaching them valuable skills in self-government and democracy.

Of course, many Americans would not like some of what they would see or hear in these self-governing institutions- - schoolroom maps of the Middle East with no representation of Israel, expressions of sympathy for groups like Hizballah and, in the wake of 9/11 and the Patriot Act, passionate complaints about being unfairly targeted by government officials. Such claims can get exaggerated. But the point is they are voiced in a way that draws Muslims into the mainstream rather than keeps them out. It is striking how often these grievances are linked with the civil rights struggles of other Americans, including African Americans, Jewish Americans and Japanese Americans during World War II. As Muslims often put it, "This is how America treats its minorities. But they overcame it, and so will we." In other words, Muslims never sound quite so American as when asserting their rights against government policies they consider unjust.

"¢ Skerry, a professor of political science at Boston College and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is completing a book about Muslims in America

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Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006

What the Pope Gets Right ...


Benedict XVI's journey to Istanbul, formerly Constantinople, is laden with the wounds of history both ancient and painfully contemporary. The Pope's controversial Sept. 12 lecture in Regensburg, Germany, quoted a 14th century exchange between a Byzantine Christian Emperor and a Muslim intellectual in which the Emperor made some distinctly uncomplimentary observations about Islam. The Pope admitted that the Emperor's statement was brusque. But his point in reaching so far back into history was to demonstrate that problems between the Christian West and Islam long precede today's "war on terrorism."

Although the West, and most notably Europe, may be less Christian today, Muslims still view it as the Christian West. For a thousand years, from the days of Muhammad in the 7th century, Islam enjoyed a run of triumphant conquest, interrupted only momentarily by the Christian Crusades. The time of conquest lasted until the failed siege of Vienna in 1683. After Vienna, and most dramatically under 19th and 20th century Western colonialism, Islam was sidelined from history--one of the main sources of the rage and resentment of today's jihadists.

The jihadists believe their time of resumed conquest has come. Through terrorism and the mass immigration of Muslims in Europe, the jihadists are pressing for the reversal of the military outcome of 1683. This is the context in which Benedict attempted to make a larger point at Regensburg. He acknowledged that Christians have sometimes had a problem, and he suggested that Muslims still have a problem, in understanding the relationship between faith and coercion. Violence, said the Pope, is the enemy of reason. Violence has no place in the advancing of religion. To act against reason is to act against the nature of God.

The violent responses to the Pope's speech reflect the belief of jihadist groups, such as al-Qaeda, that their religion mandates the use of any means necessary, including suicide bombers and the mass killing of civilians, to bring about the world's submission to Islam. In an Oct. 12 "Open Letter to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI," 38 distinguished Islamic religious authorities, including Grand Muftis in Turkey, Egypt, Russia, Syria, Kosovo, Bosnia and Uzbekistan, wrote that "jihad ... means struggle, and specifically struggle in the way of God. This struggle may take many forms, including the use of force." The signers delicately criticized some acts of Muslim terrorism, such as the killing of a nun in Somalia, but failed to address the relationship between religion and politics in Islam, or whether the "maintenance of sovereignty" includes, as radical jihadists claim, the violent reconquest of Western lands that were once Muslim. Whether out of conviction or fear of being targeted by terrorists, the 38 did not frontally reject the linkage between violence and the advance of Islam.

Nonetheless, the open letter was framed in respectful terms and was welcomed at the Vatican. It is noteworthy, however, that the Pope has not retreated from his challenge to Islam. Moreover, under his leadership, the Vatican has taken a much stronger line in insisting on "reciprocity" in relations with Islam. Mosques proliferate throughout cities in the West, while any expression of non-Islamic religion is strictly forbidden in many Muslim countries. In the Vatican and elsewhere, the feeling has been growing that the way of tolerance, dialogue and multicultural sensitivity can no longer be a one-way street. In fact, that shift predates Benedict's papacy. In his 1994 book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, John Paul II said complimentary things about the piety of Muslims. But John Paul concluded his discussion of Islam with this: "For [these reasons] not only the theology but also the anthropology of Islam is very distant from Christianity. "

The theology has to do with the relationship between faith and reason, the anthropology with the dignity of the human person that requires a free and uncoerced response to truth, including religious truth. God ("Allah" in Arabic), Benedict contends, should be viewed not as an arbitrary ruler who issues capricious commands but as the Divine Reason that human beings, through reason and freedom, are invited to share. Speaking for the Catholic Church, which includes over half of the more than 2 billion Christians in the world, Benedict says that, in matters of religion, violence is the enemy of reason, and to act against reason is to act against God. Challenging the leaders of the more than 1 billion Muslims in the world, he asks them to join in that affirmation.

"¢ Father Richard John Neuhaus is editor in chief of First Things, a monthly magazine on religion, culture and public life.

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