European Muslims are not content to remain "separate and isolated" and moderate Islamic leaders must make greater social and political integration their main goal, the head of Austria's Islamic community urged Friday to open a conference of imams and religious advisers from across the continent.
"The Muslims of Europe want to be an active and central part of the societies they live in," Anas Schakfeh, president of the Islamic Authority in Austria, told the gathering. "They don't want to be build a separate and isolated society."
Schakfeh appealed for bolder strides toward the overall theme of the two-day conference: developing a clear identity for European Muslims that can preserve traditions but embrace Western values.
The conference also seeks to forge new alliances to confront issues of cultural isolation, youth anger and worries about growing radical movements among Europe's estimated 33 million Muslims.