ISLAM IN EUROPE – ON THIN ICE

The unfortunate events that have unfolded in Europe in the last few days have shaken up the world. The horrific terrorist attacks in Paris seem to have left an indelible mark on the minds of the French. While some are quietly mourning the loss of innocent lives, others are seething with anger against the Muslim community in their country. They blame Muslims and their religion for the events that so tragically transpired in Paris.

Until now, France has been among the most tolerant and secular countries in Europe (It is home to the highest population of Muslims in the region). Muslims have lived peacefully in this part of the world for a long time now. However, after the recent terror attacks, their lives have taken a turn for the worse. Reports of hate crimes against Muslims have seen a sharp increase. They are afraid to step out of their houses in some parts of the country for the fear of getting attacked. They have reported feeling scared and ostracized. While it is wrong to blame innocent Muslims for what happened, and associate them with the twisted idea of religion that the attackers had probably been brainwashed into believing, the anger of the French is understandable.

The ongoing refugee crisis had been a bone of contention among European countries over the last few months. They were finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the seemingly endless number of refugees washing up on their shores every month – they were trying though (every country in its own way). However, with the growing anti-Islamic  sentiment in Europe, and the West in general, not only will it become extremely difficult for refugees to gain entry into these countries, but we might even see a “mini-exodus” of the Muslims already living there. This statement may seem a little too far-fetched at this point in time. Surely, it would take a lot more than a few isolated incidents of violence for Muslims living in these parts of the world to want to, or indeed have to, leave the region and move elsewhere in order to feel safe. One hopes things don’t reach this far. Will they? Only time will tell.

One thing is for sure though – Europe’s patience with Islam, and the problems that it considers to be stemming from it, is fast running out.