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Islam in Europe now has strong local leadership
by Rasha Elass
There are major changes underway for Muslims in Europe. They go beyond threats to ban the burqa in France or plans to build the largest mosque on the continent in Marseille. They go beyond the Dutch elections last month, which doubled the number of parliamentarians from the anti-Islam Freedom Party.
What is more momentous is the birth of a homegrown form of Islam, an indigenous approach to practising the religion in today's Europe.
And a Dutch imam is leading the way. Himself a product of a cultural melange, Mohammed Cheppih was raised in a family of Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands. Having learnt his faith at the knee of community elders, Imam Cheppih, 33, now believes that it is time for a homegrown form of Islam that is true to the cultural mores of the country that he and many other young Muslims consider their home.
"I personally got fed up with religion promoted by others," he told me over coffee in downtown Beirut during a recent trip to the region. "Culturally, it is not what I believe."
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