Tolerance and the First Muslim Mayor in Europe?

Many people are spreading the news that Europe has had its first Muslim mayor, and believe it is a milestone for Muslims in europe. However, this is certainly not the case. Most people probably don’t know that Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb is currently the mayor of Rotterdam (Holland). Albania and Bosnia regularly elect Muslim Mayors of European countries (because Albania and (parts of) Bosnia are majority-Muslim countries IN EUROPE (which people seem to have not remembered).

Sarajevo is the capital city of an European country. Rotterdam is Europe’s largest port-city. Of course there were also the Muslim ‘mayors’ of the most advanced city in Europe at one time, Cordoba, as well as other Andalusian (Iberian) and Muslim-ruled Sicilian cities for hundreds of years in the past.

Multiculturalism is not unknown in Europe or the Middle East for that matter. Many grand Viziers (Wuzaraa’) of Andalusian Amirs were Jews or Christians. Recently, the Majority Muslim city of Sarajevo (Bosnia) elected Christian mayor Ivo Komšić in 2013.

While it is a good sign that the people of London ignored or realised the low depths of the islamophobic campaign by the ruling UK party, the Tories, when they tried to imply Sadiq Khan was dubious by attempting to connect him with ‘extremism’. Sadiq Khan rebuffed them by arguing his Liberal credentials, by reminding people that he voted in parliament for the legalisation of gay marriage. It has been remarked by many journalists that Sadiq has never discussed his Muslim beliefs to any depth in public over his political career, other than to say they support ‘British values’, while at the same time saying he will do more to clamp down on ‘extremist’ beliefs (What beliefs and ideas does Sadiq Khan define as extremism?).

The test of acceptance of Islam as part of Western society hasn’t been met merely because a mayor was elected who called himself a Muslim. The real question we should ask ourselves is whether Muslims who openly express the details of their Islamic beliefs (especially those not considered agreeable by Secular Liberals), or who challenge the government narrative on what is ‘extremism’, ever going to get elected?

People may argue ‘how can the Tories or any supporter of Mr Khan, be Islamophobic if they do not take issue with his label as a Muslim?’ Islamophobia is not the hatred of Muslims, that would be ‘Muslimophobia’. Islamophobia is the hatred of Islam and all who profess Islamic beliefs, whatever they label themselves. The Islamophobes attacked Khan with accusations about the things he supports and believes, not that he was simply ‘a Muslim’. If Khan won the election by having to assert his Secular Liberal credentials (and his support of the Tory counter-‘extremism’ narrative/myth) and repudiate accusations that he hold certains Islamic beliefs, that is not a society that accepts Islam for what it is, or Muslims for who they are.

Of course, this doesn’t only apply to Muslims, some Christian politicians have responded ‘they don’t do God’, when asked about their beliefs – until after they retire from political office. Is a nation that doesn’t accept people in politics being open about their religious beliefs, truly a society accepting of them?

Categories: POLITICAL ANALYSIS, UK. Europe, North America & Muslim communities in the West

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