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Gaza, Islam, and the West


Gaza, Islam, and the West

The Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians committed on October 7th have refocussed attention on the place of Muslims and Jews in the Western world. A number of activists on college campuses and elsewhere have downplayed if not dismissed the attacks, which included rape, torture, mutilation, and the indiscriminate massacre of around 260 defenceless people at a music festival. The day after the atrocities, the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America held a rally in support of the Palestinian cause. In Sydney, Australia, pro-Palestinian supporters chanted “Gas the Jews” in front of the city’s iconic Opera House. 

The question of the place of Islam in Western culture is particularly acute in France—home to the largest Muslim and Jewish populations in Europe. In 2016, Pew Research estimated that 8.8 percent of the French population was Muslim, and that this could grow to as much as 18 percent by 2050. Since most elections are won by smaller margins than this, Muslims may—if they form an organised voting bloc—play an influential if not decisive role in French elections in the future. Who is likely to profit from this? And how might Islam manifest itself politically? 

There are two principal possibilities. The first is that Muslims form an alliance with the progressive…

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