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Why 'Islamophobia' is less thinly veiled in Europe

How anti-Muslim sentiment is different in European countries than in America.

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A German youth carried a national flag and an anti-Islamic sign during a march in opposition to the building of a mosque in Cologne, Germany, in 2009.

Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

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Rooful Ali is an accountant who commutes, "suited and booted," to his corporate office in London from Northamptonshire, England, where he grew up in a Bangladeshi family. His avocation is photography. But he also finds time to direct the first Europe-wide association of Muslim professionals.

The group includes marine biologists, lawyers, professors, astrophysicists, executives, doctors, artists, and political and civic figures in 10 countries – chosen for their accomplishments. They give inspirational talks and mentoring workshops for young people in the Muslim community.

Mr. Ali is part of a second generation of Muslims just starting to get traction in Europe. It is a generation that drives their kids to school, worries about office deadlines, loves sports, participates in the arts, and owns businesses. Ali and some of the 70 others in his professional network believe that Muslims can give something to European society by acting as role models within their own community.

Yet in the current political and social climate in Europe – where a larger and more visible Muslim presence is causing a backlash – they face strong head winds. Not only is mainstream Europe looking more askance at Muslims, but younger Muslims with higher expectations and hope for belonging are growing more restless.

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