Government Struggles To Prevent Spread of Extremist Islam

April 30, 2004

Source: The New York Times

On April 30, 2004 The New York Times reported, "France has long maintained one of the strictest antiterrorism programs in Europe, in part because the country was hit early by Islamist terror and because it has the largest Muslim population on the Continent. Many other countries in Europe have been far more tolerant in allowing radical discourse to flourish in their mosques. But making such a hard-line stance stick is difficult, even here in a country that has been more willing than most of its European neighbors to limit free speech in the interest of a calm and cohesive society...The expulsion and possible return of Mr. Bouziane [imam expelled for advocating wife-beating and stoning] highlight a thorny issue that most countries across Europe are facing as they struggle to meet the needs of their growing Muslim populations and protect traditional civil liberties while trying to curb the spread of extremist Islamic thought. Part of the problem is a dearth of domestically trained clerics to lead congregations of European-born Muslims. As a result, mosques like that in V�nissieux often have to rely on imported imams or self-proclaimed clerics who espouse fundamentalist beliefs that grate against Europe's more tolerant societies."