Making a mountain out of a mosque

In the first season of ABC’s The Chaser, Julian Morrow tested the tolerance levels of Mosman residents (for non-Sydneysiders, Mosman is a rather fashionable, upper-class area of Sydney) by setting up a table on a shopping strip and pretending there were plans to build a mosque in the area. He even had a model of a mosque to assist when testing the reactions of local residents. Granted that Morrow would have interviewed a large number of people, I suspect they kept the ratio of dissenters to those in favour intact when editing the responses.

Mosman is not known for a substantial Muslim population, so I could understand the surprise some interviewees registered; the disgust was a little harder to stomach. But it was there, and it certainly demonstrated that many were, in no uncertain terms, passionately opposed to a mosque in the area, particularly because, well, it would attract Muslims.

It’s this skit that came to mind when I read an excellent piece in The Economist (‘Constructing Conflict’, 30 August 2007) about the politics of mosque-building in non-Muslim majority countries. You can read the whole article here. It’s worthwhile reading the entire piece, but this short paragraph really caught my attention:

Reza Aslan, a Californian writer on Islam, says that to his American eyes the intensity of openly “Islamophobic” opposition to mosques in parts of Europe, especially the south, is a shock. “It’s as though some Europeans are confused about their identity and are now trying to construct one in opposition to Islam.”

Is that the case for Europe? Let’s hope not.


#1 T Cell on 09.03.07 at 2:18 pm

In fact Europe’s only shared identity is its opposition to islam,

Europe did not exist in the imagination of Europeans until the rise of the Islamic calipha,

#2 Yakoub on 09.03.07 at 7:40 pm

I am rather perplexed by Reza Aslan’s comment. Ziauddin Sardar, John M. Hobson and others have asserted that Europe’s identity was founded, and indeed is integral to, the defining of the Islamic ‘other’. Even Akbar Ahmed’s widely read Postmodernism and Islam notes the local annual celebrations of defeat of Muslims in parts of Europe once ruled by Muslims, including Spain. Can someone send him an email!

#3 Antish on 09.04.07 at 1:39 pm

Would a Synagogue or a Hindu or Buddhist temple have elicited the same response? Probably not. This is probably mainly due to events of the past decade or so (domestic and international), but also because of the correct perception that associated with mosques are fanatics who are likely to be an offensive nuisance about the way women dress and so on. Who wants that in the neighbourhood?

#4 Amal on 09.04.07 at 10:00 pm

Please keep the comments constructive and relevant to the post. I’ve deleted comments that were not appropriate.

Jazak Allah khayr.

#5 Zanjabil on 09.08.07 at 9:02 am

It’s a growing phenomenon:

Europe’s Muslims Denied Mosques

#6 T Cell on 09.11.07 at 10:07 pm

what about these guys, obviously Antish you would want them in your local area, minding your kids

its only a $660 million payout, so it must have just been an isolated incident , I mean who ever heard of catholic priest molesting young boys in their care

#7 T Cell on 09.11.07 at 10:15 pm

there is also this

but its only 4 pages of links of catholic child abuse in the NYT.

but at least its not a mosque hey Antish?

#8 T Cell on 09.11.07 at 10:17 pm

sorry, I meant 10 pages of child abuse article links involving the church in NY.

its actually not as many as it sounds

#9 Amal on 09.11.07 at 10:28 pm

I think you’ve made your point, T Cell. I deleted the original link you posted because I’d rather we didn’t use this discussion to publicise such offensive things.

Since nothing constructive is coming out of the discussion now, I’m closing comments.