Date: 4/5/2002


Allow as many mosques in Europe and America as there are churches and temples in all the ISLAMIC republics put together.


..........Fear of Muslims benefits Europe's rightists

................Peter Finn The Washington Post


...................30th March 2002

COPENHAGEN A wave of anti-Muslim sentiment has bolstered far-right parties in some European countries since Sept. 11 and left the Continent's large communities of foreigners wondering how long their welcome will last.

The changing mood has found its fullest political expression here in Denmark, where an anti-immigrant party won 12 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections in November, nearly doubling its showing from the previous election. Its campaign posters featured a picture of a young blond girl and the slogan: "When she retires, Denmark will have a Muslim majority." .

Now the Danish Parliament is considering a bill that would close many doors to the country, long known as one of Europe's most receptive to foreigners. It is host to about 300,000, most of them Muslims. .

Danes have a long history of tolerance of other religions and lifestyles, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a group of Washington Post reporters and editors in Washington this week, citing the country's protection of Jews during World War II and its accepting Cold War refugees. .

But today Denmark is having serious problems integrating its immigrants, he said. Roughly half are unemployed, he said, and many have no education. Moreover, there is cultural friction. .

"Many Danes feel that too many immigrants do not respect Danish values," he said. .

Opinion polls show that increasing numbers of the 5.3 million citizens of Denmark, an affluent, predominantly white and Lutheran country, resent foreigners' heavy reliance on the welfare system. Many also blame the newcomers for crime and worry that their communities harbor terrorists. .

Immigrants counter that they are being targeted unfairly and routinely face discrimination. .

"We all just feel uneasy and afraid," said Ali Khan, 34, who moved to Denmark from Pakistan in 1998 but has not found steady work. "People just want to get out of here, to Britain or Canada or the United States." .

Some refugees are becoming desperate. In December, a 16-year-old who had fled to Denmark from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan set himself ablaze with gasoline after he was ordered deported. He is recovering from his burns. .

Elsewhere in Europe, anti-immigrant parties have also gained support. A branch of the Livable Netherlands party won 17 of 45 seats on the Rotterdam local council this month, attracting more votes than any of the three parties in the national coalition. In Italy and Germany as well, anti-immigrant groups are growing in strength as they tap long-standing fears about security and the dilution of national identity.

. Advances by the far right have exerted a gravitational pull on establishment parties, which are responding to perceived public demands to increase internal security, curb the arrival of newcomers - especially nonwhites - and limit the rights of migrants already in the country. .

Long before Sept. 11, many white Europeans had deep-running concerns that their countries were involuntarily becoming multicultural as guest workers and refugees, mostly Muslim, established themselves in residence. There are about 15 million Muslims in Europe, making Islam the leading non-Christian religion.

. The post-Sept. 11 concerns underscored a paradox that has cycled through European politics for years: The Continent needs foreign workers to gird an aging work force but is queasy about accepting them, especially if they are Muslim. .

"There is this fear for national identity combined with a fear of Muslims that has fueled this debate on immigration," said Jan Niessen, director of the Migration Policy Group, a research organization in Brussels.

In a report on the fallout in the European Union from the terrorist attacks against the United States, the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia in Vienna said the decision by some countries to link immigration and anti-terrorism measures had created "an atmosphere of insecurity and intolerance, especially in cases where Muslims are presented as an 'internal security threat.'" .

Before the September attacks, far-right parties running on anti-immigrant themes had scored notable successes at the polls in Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Norway, where votes from the far-right Progress Party have provided the government with a working majority in Parliament. The attacks seem to have heightened the popularity of such parties. In the Netherlands, a country with a rich multiethnic texture and 800,000 Muslims, nearly 50 percent of young people want no more Muslim immigration, according to an opinion poll for the weekly publication Nieuwe Revu. .

"I think 16 million Dutchmen are about enough," Pim Fortuyn, the former leader of the Livable Netherlands and author of "Against the Islamization of Our Culture," told the newspaper De Volkskrant. "This is a full country." He said Islam is a "backward culture" and "Moroccan boys never steal from Moroccans. Have you noticed that?"

. Political analysts in the Netherlands say Livable Netherlands and the faction loyal to its former leader could end up as kingmakers in Parliament after elections this year. .

In Hamburg, where some of the Sept. 11 hijackers lived, the Party for a Law and Order Offensive got 20 percent of the vote in state elections after the attacks on the United States. Its leader, Judge Ronald Schill, became the state interior minister. The German magazine Der Spiegel quoted Schill as saying during his campaign that he wanted to bring the "black African drug dealers and the knife-stabbing Turks" to justice. Schill now says he may start a national campaign. .

The main conservative opposition in Germany is threatening a court challenge after passage last week of the country's first major immigration bill, saying it does not do enough to curtail the influx of foreigners. About half of the 7.3 million foreign residents in Germany are Muslim.

. In Italy, the government of Silvio Berlusconi has introduced a bill calling for the expulsion of immigrants who enter the country illegally. .

In Denmark, the far-right Danish People's Party aimed much of its campaign for the November elections at a foreign-born population that is 70 percent Muslim. Its member of the European Parliament, Mogens Camre, was quoted in the newspaper Politiken as saying, "All countries of the Western world are infiltrated by Muslims - some of them speak to us politely, while they wait until they are enough to kill all of us."

. Denmark's mainstream parties rejected the language of the People's Party during the campaign. But the conservatives swept out the Social Democratic government on the promise of clamping down on immigration.

. "The message is clear: Stay out," said Mohammed Hassan Gelle, a Somali who is head of the Ethnic Minorities Federation in Denmark.