Christians and Muslims in Tomorrow’s Europe

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Damian Howard, SJ

 Damian Howard, SJ / Church Life / 15 June 2017


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On May 6, 2016, Sadiq Khan was elected Mayor of London by 57 per cent of the electorate, making him the politician with the third largest personal democratic mandate in Europe. Much of the publicity that attended his victory focused on his religious affiliation; he was now, after all, Europe’s highest profile Muslim politician. Although some rightwing commentators predictably and offensively attributed the result to a preemptive cringe before a growing Muslim population, most saw it as a token of London’s credentials as a multicultural and multireligious city at ease with itself, something to be celebrated just as it had been in the city’s Olympiad of 2012.

But not every indicator suggested so rosy a picture. A group that monitors antiMuslim hate crimes, Tell MAMA (Measuring AntiMuslim Attacks), says that the previous year had seen an astonishing 326 per cent increase in the rate of reported cases. And then a mere month after the election of Khan, the immediate aftermath of the EU Referendum (Brexit) witnessed a widespread surge in xenophobic outbursts in the city’s public spaces, many of them of an Islamophobic nature.

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