Anti-Islam Movements Around the World: News Roundup

This week brought news of anti-Islam sentiment around the world, from bans on full-face veils being considered across Europe (which we’ve written about before) to an attack on a proposed Muslim cultural center and mosque being planned in lower Manhattan, near Ground Zero. Meanwhile, the Texas Board of Education continues to debate textbook standards, and a new book helps us feel more at home at others’ religious ceremonies. (Photo: Turkish mosque, courtesy of birdfarm.)

Earlier this week, Nicholas Sarkozy’s Cabinet approved a ban on full-face veils in France, amid speculation that such a ban might run afoul of the French Constitution.
"We are an old country anchored in a certain idea of how to live together. A full veil which completely hides the face is an attack on those values, which for us are so fundamental," he told his ministers. "Citizenship has to be lived with an uncovered face. There can therefore be absolutely no solution other than a ban in all public places." 
The government decided to impose a $185 fine on women found wearing the veil in public, increasing tensions between the country’s Muslim minority and Christian majority.
 
Nearby, in Belgium (where a similar ban has been passed by the Chamber of Representatives and awaits Senate approval), a convert describes her experience wearing the full veil in public, saying that “she has been stared at, frowned at, muttered to, mocked as a "ghost" and forced by a policeman to lift her veil to show her face.”
 
Veil-banning bills have also been introduced in the parliaments of Italy and the Netherlands, where some individual cities have begun instituting local bans.
 
Here in the States, controversy continues to boil over around the proposed construction of the Cordoba House – a Muslim cultural and education center with worship space, modeled on the 92nd Street YMCA – backed by the Cordoba Initiative and the American Society for Muslim Advancement. The New York Daily News reports on a press conference held by the project’s leaders on May 20th, a day after Tea Party Express chairman mark Williams called the building a monument “for the worship of the terrorists' monkey-god."
 
Local politicians and representatives from interfaith groups and other faith communities stood in solidarity with the project. Said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, “We reject him. We reject his bigotry.” The Huffington Post, meanwhile, writes on how the Cordoba House could help repair some of the schisms between the West and the Muslim world.
 
In other news, the Texas Board of Education’s debate on the state’s social studies curriculum takes up again, with a leading conservative on the Board pushing for more changes that downplay the separation of church and state; and a new text, Do I Kneel or Do I Bow? joins How to Be a Perfect Stranger in helping make us more comfortable when attending events for religions with which we’re not familiar.
 
Have a great weekend, and we’ll be back with more news next Friday!