In Algeria Christians who did not fast during Ramadan are being condemned to prison sentences or ordered to leave the country, defined as a “land of Islam”.
Lest we forget – or lest we never knew – present day Algeria, along with Egypt and the rest of North Africa (to say nothing of Arabia itself), adopted Christianity with enthusiasm in the first centuries of the first millenium, well prior to its spread in Europe. It was only long after, in the 8th century, that Islam was imposed by conquest. But Christianity persisted, despite oppression. In recent decades the massacres and persecutions of Christians and Christianity rival and surpass previous episodes, and an active resistance is starting to form. Its fate is impossible to predict – particularly in the absence of support from a de-christianized West.
In France there are now calls for a moratorium on the construction of mosques, by solidarity with Algerian Christians. The building of churches is forbidden in several “lands of Islam”, and non-Muslims are forbidden to enter certain “holy cities” of Islam.
Tolerance, if it is to retain any meaning or force, must end where this sort of intolerance begins.
Do you know that there is a conflation of “Muslim” and “Arab” in Islam which gives it a certain racialist tone? Most north Africans are not Arabs ethnically. As Muslims, however, there is a pressure to self-define as Arabs. The term “Arab world” – though westerners are becoming more sophisticated in these matters – has tended to cover a much larger area than relatively small Arabia. There are indeed Arabs all over the North Africa and the Middle East – descendants of the Muslim conquistadors of the first millenium, but they are an ethnic minority. Many people considered "Arab in Lebanon, Palestine or Jordan are in fact ethnically Phoenician or Cannanite. And the Egyptians, of course, are not Arabs. Who cares? There are some Muslims and Arabs who care very much.