by Khaled Diab, via the huffingtonpost.com
Those who fear Muslim influence should raise a glass to the Sultan of Style next time they freshen up, don the latest fashions or enjoy a delicious three-course meal.
In the wake of the Woolwich machete attack against an off-duty British army drummer, the stabbing in Paris of a French soldier and the Boston marathon attack, anti-Muslim sentiments have, as might be expected, increased in Europe and the United States.
In the U.K., for example, the far-right British National Party (BNP) — which had such a disastrous showing at recent local elections that it has urged it members to “do our bit for Britain and our race” by breeding more — and English Defence League have been mobilizing overtime to capitalize on the fallout.
The BNP leader Nick Griffin called ominously on supporters to “join the British resistance”, while another senior party official suggested that the men behind the London murder should be executed. Meanwhile, anti-Muslim hate crimes are running at 10 times their usual rate, according to a British government hotline.
The United States has also experienced a backlash in what Salon dubbed as the “return of the anti-Muslim bigots”. There have been hate crimes as well as suggestions for blanket spying on Muslims.
On both sides of the Atlantic, there has been growing fear of the “Islamization” of society and the notion that Muslims stand opposed to Western values is gaining traction. This is reflected in a new cross-border survey, which shows that majorities in a number of Western societies regard Islam as a threat.
As I’ve argued before, and despite my concerns over Islamic radicalism and extremism, Islam is not alien to Western civilization but an integral part of it. In fact, Islam and the Muslim influence are deeply woven into the West’s social and civilizational fabric.
Readers may well have come across historical explanations of the contributions Muslims made to modern sciences, philosophy, medicine, agriculture, sociology and other areas of learning. Here, I’d like to explore how Muslims helped make the West “cool,” shaped our modern tastes and sensibilities and gave us many things we regard as quintessentially Western, such as the café.