More issues for Muslims in Europe

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The past few days have been pretty rough for the Muslim community in Europe. Between new laws banning face veils, a PEGIDA protest and crackdowns on imams, it seems that more and more European governments and citizens are fed up with the current situation and doing something about it.

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​A few days ago, Denmark passed a law banning the wearing of face veils in public. Various organizations saw this as an attack on Muslim women, slamming the country for the decision.

This week, various events took place in two different countries.

The most notable one, and most widely covered, was a move by Austria yesterday Friday 8th, expulsing some Imams and closing down a few illegal and extremist mosques in the country. As of now, 7 mosques will be closed down, with up to 60 imams possibly being kicked out of the country.

In Austria, there are over 600K Muslims, in a country of 8.8 million citizens. The last government, conservatives, approved a law in 2015, banning foreign funding of religious groups. The imams who may be kicked out of the country, either by losing their visas or directly expulsed, received funding from outside organizations or countries, such as Turkey. The association in charge of paying them explained this is due to a lack of funds, and that they’ll try and figure out a way to pay Imams without recurring to external funding, though it’ll take time.

The Turkish government reacted to the move, criticizing it heavily.

In the Netherlands, Thursday 7th, PEGIDA, a group usually qualified as “neo-Nazi” (but who declare themselves against the Islamization of Europe and Muslim extremists), tried to hold various demonstrations in 5 different cities. These demonstrations consisted in roasting pig meat in front of Muslim mosques, in other words, doing a BBQ in the middle of Ramadan period, at the end of the day, knowing that the mosques would have quite a lot of people in them.

At the end, PEGIDA was denied permission to hold the demonstrations in 4 of the 5 cities, with only the mayor of Rotterdam allowing the protest, in the name of freedom of speech and freedom of protesting. The association had to cancel at the last minute, due to a crowd in front of the mosque stopping them from arriving to the location. The protesters were a small group of 20 to 30 people, whose safety was guaranteed by the police up to a certain point. The police estimated the crowd in front of the mosque to 200 or 300 people, holding Dutch, Moroccan and Turkish flags, giving a hint of the origin of the crowd.

Turkey, as with the Austrian situation, protested. The local Muslims were also unhappy the mayor allowed the demonstration to take place, even if the protesters were unable to do what they had intended to. The PEGIDA protesters did say they would roast the meat somewhere else and eat it, as it would have been a waste throwing it away.

Overall, the situation in Europe doesn’t seem to be improving when it comes down to Muslims and immigrants in general. From here, the current climate can only worsen, but we’ll not get into detail due to the risk of getting political.

In any case, it is quite interesting that the Turkish government is the one complaining the most in these situations, though it isn’t surprising, as the Muslims concerned in these two cases were mainly Turkish or of Turkish descendance, with some going as far as supporting the current Turkish President, Mr. Erdogan. This one is currently campaigning for the elections taking place at the end of the month.

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