The famously liberal Netherlands has also seen the rise of anti-Muslim political sentiment with Islam perceived as a threat to the Dutch way of life. Most recently, right-wing anti-immigrant sentiment has grown at the polls in Finland and Hungary.
Mr. Hjelm, himself Finnish, sounds a cautionary note, saying growing fears of Islamic influence in Europe are overstated: “The discussion is really around issues of identity rather than what’s really going on. There is definitely a change going on with immigration and so on, but the idea of being ‘swamped’ is not accurate. Also, the attention religion gets is disproportionate.”
It’s not just Islam that worries secularists. For the delegates at the World Atheist Conference the question of separation of church and state has taken on new urgency.