City of Brass

City of Brass


Jews and Muslims in Europe must make common cause

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The Swiss minaret ban is a kind of canary in the coal mine. It’s worth noting that though Islamophobia is driven by fear, whereas anti-Semitism is driven by hate, the functional expression of both in European society follows very similar trends. The self-styled defenders of Western Civilization want to forget that anti-Semitism found its ultimate expression in Europe not centuries ago, but mere decades – and the same passions exploited today against muslims run the risk of reigniting the same old hatreds that still percolate beneath the surface of “modern, civilized” Europe.

There is hard data to support the argument that Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are linked. The Pew Global Attitudes Project is an invaluable reference; last September they released a report (full PDF; summary) which showed an alarming increase in unfavorable opinions of both jews and muslims alike in all the major European countries (but not in the US or Britain):

A spring 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Pew Global Attitudes Project finds 46% of the Spanish rating Jews unfavorably. More than a third of Russians (34%) and Poles (36%) echo this view. Somewhat fewer, but still significant numbers of the Germans (25%) and French (20%) interviewed also express negative opinions of Jews. These percentages are all higher than obtained in comparable Pew surveys taken in recent years. In a number of countries, the increase has been especially notable between 2006 and 2008.

(…) Opinions about Muslims in almost all of these countries are considerably more negative than are views of Jews. Fully half of Spanish (52%) and German respondents (50%) rate Muslims unfavorably. Opinions about Muslims are somewhat less negative in Poland (46%) and considerably less negative in France (38%). About one-in-four in Britain and the United States (23% each) also voice unfavorable views of Muslims. Overall, there is a clear relationship between anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim attitudes: publics that view Jews unfavorably also tend to see Muslims in a negative light.

The demographics of these jew-hating, muslim-fearing publics are consistently dominated by older people (above age 50) and people who have not attended college. And unsurprisingly, they are dominated by members of the political right.

It’s easy to see how an increase in right-wing political paranoia – as epitomized by the electoral success of European far-right parties like the Vlaams Belang and the SVP – can open a pandora’s box from which both muslims and jews alike will suffer. This is why muslims and jews need to work together and actively join forces in articulating their common rights of religious freedom and expression, respect for their holy sites, and civic identity.



  • Ares

    Why not make a common cause and go back to the middle east where you belong? Europe belongs to our people and you and the Jews are aliens meddling in our affairs. Time is running out for you to leave voluntarily.

  • Your Name

    Muslims in Europe are treated far better than “infidels” are treated in the Islamic world, and the Jewish population of Europe isnt kept behind walls with no power or water, chased by helicopter gunships.
    The both of you need to get your own houses in order before lecturing about a minor architectural law in a foreign land.

  • Batman

    No babies, Jewish in Europe are loved and respected.
    Only you muslims must go out.

  • LB

    “Your Name” should know – Muslims in Israel are not kept behind walls nor chased by helicopter gunships. They live freely, build their own houses of worship, worship as they wish and have full civil rights. They serve in the parliment, in the armed forces and in the courts. They file and win lawsuits against the government.
    ON the other hand, Israel’s Arab neighbors, most of whom are Muslim, demand that not a single Jew live next to them in their lands. So important is this to them that they have sent bombs and rockets to kill Israelis because of it. Instead of defending themselves in a less expensive and safer way that would risk innocent Muslim lives, Israelis built a fence, just like fences along the border of most countries, including officially Muslim countries that prohibit Christians and Jews from practicing their religion.

  • LB

    Yes – on its face this does seem bigotted and is not right. Of course, one may legitimately ask what is behind the concern about buildings for a movement whose adherents will kill because of this ban.
    Also, countries that are officially Muslim, e.g., members of the international diplomatic agency known as the Organization of the Islamic Conference (no Organization of the Christian Conference exists) do not allow churches or synagogues to be built. In fact, they go beyond the Swiss action, which bans only minarets but allows construction of mosques without minarets. They prohibit the practice of non-Muslim religion altogether. The words of leaders from those Muslim nations and the words of diplomats who have been silent to that injustice, lack seriousness, sincerity and integrity.
    Is the UN or the EU threatening to stop holding conferences in those Muslim nations that not only prohibit the building of churches with crosses atop them but jail people who privately practice Christianity? Of course not. Much less do they threaten violence in retaliation for such unjust policies. However, many Muslims leaders are threatening violence to Swiss people for the lesser injustice of banning the construction of new minarets. The EU and UN think these threats to Swiss people are serious. Does might make right? Or do we apply principles to Muslim and non-Muslim nations alike?

  • Susan

    I agree with you. Jews and Muslims should be on the same side, but Muslims have adopted Western Christian antisemitism. Jewish/Zionist conspiracy theories permeate the Muslim world. Holocaust denial does too. Muslims are not going to help themselves by blaming Jews for their problems.
    Jews have lived in Europe for centuries, but they are still not considered to really British, German or French, for example. I doubt that Muslims are going to accepted any time soon.

  • MN

    I’m not sure what countries others are referring to. I have traveled throughout Egypt and Coptic Christians, Churches, Steeples all exist. They co-exist actually. I was raised Christian, have Jewish descent in my family heritage and converted to Islam. As a young adult, the world, while it likes to be defined so clearly by race, ethnic, cultural, and religion, is blending in ways unimaginable and it is a good thing. It creates tolerance and a type of understanding that goes beyond what is ‘given’ to us by our birth parents. That we cannot choose. As a people, we must come together in empathy, understanding, and peace. To deny a particular group the opportunity to express their love of God is not right. That is why the Quakers first settled in America. Religious freedom. Not something to be taken for granted.

  • Your Name

    To Batman: Wow! You are either very stupid, suggesting that European’s have positive views of Jews, or a typical Jewish blogger insighting white europeans against Muslims. If you are the latter I invite to live in europe as a Jew. Islam will not survive in Europe without a reformation: Woman and Gays being key issue…not jobs. And Europe is once again considerably Muslim. Biggots (and frankly Zionists: Christian and Jewish) won’t stand a chance here if we are all to survice and maybe, just maybe thrive. Other options to terrible to mention. Just aask a Jew.

  • Batman

    To Your Name: I’m neither stupid nor Jewish, and as you can see, my previuos post has been deleted, typical of islamo-fascist blog, as this.
    You must understand that Jews are largely respected in Europe, while islamic people are going to be largely hated by Europe, America and all the world.
    This’s true difference between Jews and muslims.

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