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March 27, 2009

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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 27, 2009 t 7 ) ( In a still from "Fitna," a film produced by Dutch Parliament member Geert Wilders, an Islamic man is shown speaking about the religion's thirst for power. This is Part 5 in a JTA series titled "Identity Crisis: Muslims in Europe." By Dinah A. Spritzer BRUSSELS (JTA)--A bus driver on Antwerp's line 19 doesn't like Muslims. Such is the warning friends gave 24-year-old Meryem, a Belgian Muslim of MorocCan descent, advising her to avoid the driver's route. But last summer Meryem, who wears a headscarf, for- got her friends' caution and boarded the bus to Deurne. After a few minutes, the bus made a stop where two passengers, an elderly Belgian gentleman and a woman wearing a Muslim headscarf, were waiting. The man boarded the bus first. As the woman lifted her foot to follow, the driver quickly slammed the door shut and sped away. The woman appeared shocked, recalls Meryem, who asked that her last name not be used to protect her privacy. "A few weeks later I took Bus 19 again and it had exactly the same driver, who this time did not even stop to pick up a bearded manwho appeared to be a Muslim at one of the bus stops," she told JTA. Meryem's experience il- lustrated what has become a catchword in European government and academic circles: Islamophobia--the fear, hatred, discrimination or negative stereotyping of Muslims. Ranging from physical at- tacks to verbal abuse to subtle discrimination, Islamophobia has become a leading form of xenophobia in Europe, accord- ing to numerous European government studies. "The notion that the pres- ence of Islam in Europe, in the form of its Muslim citizens and migrants, is a challenge for Europe and European norms and values has taken a strong hold in European political discourse and has also cre- ated a climate of fear," said a 2006 report, the European Union's first study document- ing Islamophobic incidents. In Europe, Islamophobia is inextricably connected with anti-immigrant senti- ment, since most of Europe's Muslims are immigrants or descendants of immigrants. The terrorist activities of radical Islamic groups have Taxes and laws are ever-changing. Is your financial advisor up-to-date? Is your money earning up to its potential? We are a group of finandal professionals with years of extensive experience in wealth preservation; product independent advice, financial and risk management, income producing strategies, retirement planning, and tax management*. Call 407-875-2674 for your complimentary initial assessment. 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Capitalizing on this de- mographic trend and fears of terrorism, far-right political parities have painted Muslims as an alien group that threat- ens the European way of life. In 2007, the Swiss People's Party campaigned with post- ers showing veiled Muslim women and the question, "Where are we living, Baden or Baghdad?" Experts are divided over whether race, socioeconomic status or association with terrorism is at the root of Is- lamophobia in Europe. What is clear is that antipathy in Europe toward Muslims has grown in tandem with terror- ist attacks such as the 2005 London transit bombings and the 2004 Madrid train bombings. Mosques in Germany have been torched. Muslim graves in London have been vandal- ized. And all over Europe, North African immigrants and their families have been subject to verbal and physi- cal attacks, sometimes by neo-Nazis. In the months after the 2004 murder by an Islamic extremist of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, whose films had criticized Islam's treatment of women, there were 47 violent attacks aSainst mosques in the Netherl ~nds. Some argue that Muslim fundamentalists exploit the charge of Islamophobia to silence legitimate criticism of Islamic fanaticism, includ- ing honor killings, forced marriages and sympathy for terrorism. "In Denmark, if you speak out against forced marriage, A still from "Fitna," a film that uses footage to portray Islam as an inherently violent religion. Islamists say you are Islamo- phobic," Nasser Khader, a member of the Danish Parlia- mentwho describes himself as a secular Muslim, told JTA. "I think it's OK to have Islamist- phobia. Islam as an ideology can be fascistic." Khader said Muslims should face up to the fact that they are sometimes to blame for anti-Muslim sentiment. "One month after 9/11, about 1,000 fanatical Muslims in Denmark held a rally to cel- ebrate Osamabin Laden, only five weeks before the general election in Denmark," he said. "The demonstrators gave the extreme right five more seats in the parliament." In 2006, the author Salmon Rushdie and the former Dutch legislator Ayaan Hirsi Alli called Islamism a "totalitar- ian global threat" and wrote that they would not be cowed by "the fear of being accused of 'Islamophobia,' a wretched concept that e0nfuses criti- cism of Islam as a religion and stigmatization of those who believe in it." Meanwhile, there is grow- ing evidence of European hostility toward Muslims. Last September, the Pew Research Center released a study that found unfavorable attitudes toward Muslims in the Euro- pean countries with the larg- est Muslim populations. Of those surveyed, 52 percent in Spain, 50.percent in Germany, 38 percent in France and 25 percent in Britain registered negative attitudes toward Muslims. By contrast, a 2006 Pew Research Center survey in the United States found 25 percent of respondents had negative attitudes toward Muslims. Traditionally much more ethnically homogeneous than the United States, Europeans have been slower to accept the estimated 17 million Muslim immigrants in their midst. In Switzerland, some sec- ond-, third- and even fourth- generation immigrants do not hold citizenship. Unlike the United States, not all Euro- pean countries automatically grant citizenship to natural- born residents. Up to 50 per- cent of Europe's Muslims are not actually citizens of E.U, countries, analysts estimate. Some have not taken citizen- ship of their own choice. "Europe's small, culturally homogeneous nations still find it difficult to extend a warm welcome to immigrants Europe on page 19A The third grade religious school class at Temple Israel. Children enrolled in the third grade religious school class of Temple Israel in Winter Springs received their personalized prayer books during a consecra- tion ceremony at Friday night services on March 13. The ceremony was presided over by Rabbi Gary Perras and head of school Orna Jaffe. The siddurs had been personally decorated by each child's parents, and none of the children had seen them beforehand. The children will bring these siddurs with them to religious school and synagogue from this point forward. Amanda Hoffman. vice president of education organized the event. The class members are Ben Ade|man. Sydney Adel- man, David Allison, Seth Armbrust, Rachel Brown, Roy Araky-Cohen, Miriam Halikman, William Hoff- man, Maxwell lhns, Aaron Karr. Alison Kimelman, Steven Kluger, Myles Mckim and Nathan Vincenti. For more information about Temple Israel. call 407- 647-3055 or visit its website at