Europe's Muslims May Be Headed Where the Marxists Went Before

(New York Times) Craig S. Smith - • Today, Islam reaches out to the poor and disillusioned in France's working-class neighborhoods. Young Arabs and Africans have turned to Islam with the same fervor that the idealistic youth of the 1960s turned toward Marxism. As with Marxism in the 1960s, Islam in Europe has its radical fringe and its pragmatic mainstream. The narrower, but in many ways more potent, stream draws its inspiration from the fundamentalist clerics of Saudi Arabia. •Islam's growth in Europe as the most vibrant ideology of the downtrodden is part of a wave of religiosity that has swept the Arab world in the past 30 years, propelled by frustration over feeble economies, uneven distribution of wealth, and the absence of political freedom. •Many people see the religion's return as opening another chapter in a centuries-long struggle between Christendom and Islam for the domination of Europe. But the religion's appeal reaches beyond the communities of Arab and African immigrants born to the faith. There are an estimated 50,000 Muslim converts in France.

2004-12-28 00:00:00

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