Xenophobia and Islamophobia in Europe

Xenophobia and Islamophobia in Europe

Xenophobia and Islamophobia in Europe

Xenophobia and Islamophobia in Europe

Synopsis

Are anti-Muslim attitudes becoming the spectre that is haunting Europe? This cross-national analysis of Islamophobia looks at many of its issues, answering key questions in an innovative and even-handed way.

Excerpt

After she was crowned queen in 1553, Henry VlII’s eldest daughter decided she was going to do something about the problem of a multicultural London. Up to 12 per cent of the city’s population (10,000 strong) was made up of Protestant refugee communities and merchant-strangers. Most came from just across the English Channel – France, Wallonia, Flanders and Holland. But others originated in faraway Spain and Italy. Mary I was intent on restoring England to Roman Catholicism and sought a return to a monocultural England. She made it a crime to be a stranger in England without having papers of denization. All Protestant refugees were encouraged to leave.

Queen Mary faced a major obstacle in her quest to rid the country of foreigners. Unexpectedly, ‘although the English could have taken the opportunity of Mary I’s reign to scapegoat strangers or aliens (the terms used in the period to refer to immigrants), the English more often seem to have valued and protected their immigrant neighbors’. Her royal entry into London on 30 September 1553 was met by pro-stranger pageants organised by the city’s mayor and aldermen ‘sending the message that Londoners were inextricably linked with the strangers living among them’.

This was not the end of popular protest against her anti-alien policies. A play, whose origins may date to the fourteenth century, was performed in her presence. Called The Interlude of Wealth and Health, it centred on a ‘debate about whether Health or Wealth deserve more pre-eminence in England, and by extension whether decisions about strangers ought to be considered in light of the material or the spiritual interests of the realm’. The importance to the realm of a third character, Liberty, was also discussed in this play. Exposed to the clever arguments found in the work, Mary was being enlightened about the trade-offs of having strangers in the country. She also was made aware of the state of public opinion on the subject.

The relevance of this disagreement in mid-Tudor England between the . . .

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