Monday, December 28, 2009

The Marseille Mosque

The Times looks at the identity debate, focusing on the new mosque in Marseille. Steven Erlanger writes:

“Today in Europe the fear of Islam crystallizes all other fears,” Mr. Geisser said. “In Switzerland, it’s minarets. In France, it’s the veil, the burqa and the beard.”


The large new mosque, which its builders call “the symbol of Marseillais Islam,” is a source of pride here in France’s second-largest city, which is at least 25 percent Muslim. But it is also cause for alarm, Mr. Geisser said, embodying the paradox that visible signs of integration set off xenophobic anxiety. “All these symbols reveal a deeper, more lasting presence of Islam,” he said. “It’s the passage of something temporary to something that is implanted and takes root.”