There is a nasty whiff of bigotry and racism wafting over European nations, which should have learned lessons from the horrors of the Holocaust. Indigenous Europeans are becoming more xenophobic than ever with most of their ire turned against Muslim populations. And, unfortunately, Europes right-wing governments are doing little to reverse this trend and in some cases are complicit in passing laws that impinge upon the rights of the devout. The ban on the burqa, introduced by France and Belgium, Switzerlands ban on the construction of new minarets and Greeces reluctance to give permissions for new mosques and Nicolas Sarkozys unwillingness to allow Turkey into the EU 'Christian Club are examples. Within the US there are also people who are openly ill-disposed towards Muslims as was evidenced by hostile reactions to the Park51, an Islamic Cultural Centre in New York close to Ground Zero to which 68 per cent of Americans were opposed. Indeed, the Bush administration is largely responsible for prevailing Islamophobic attitudes due to its reaction to the September 11 attacks when American Muslims were rounded up, Islamic charities shut down and two predominantly Muslim countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, were invaded ostensibly because 19 criminals espousing a distorted interpretation of Islam harmed Americans on their own soil. In fact, they were no different to Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who used bombs and bullets to promote his 1,500-page, largely anti-Islamic, anti-multiculturalism, anti-Marxist manifesto. Yet, whereas law-abiding Muslims were asked to publicly renounce Al Qaida and extremism, nobody requires Christians to disassociate themselves from ideological killers like Breivik or the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. Christian terrorists are dismissed by the western media as madmen even when they have clear links to hate groups or religious sects; Breivik is affiliated to the far-right English Defence League (EDL) and had been in touch with thousands of European extremists on social media sites. McVeigh was motivated by sympathy for a Protestant sect known as the Branch Davidians besieged by the FBI in Waco, Texas. I was in no way surprised when as soon as the bombs exploded in Oslo, English-language television networks rolled out one terrorism 'expert after another who all pointed fingers at Muslim extremists with most suggesting the attack had the hallmarks of Al Qaida. When they were asked why Al Qaida should go after Norway, at least two looked puzzled until they came up with the fact that a Norwegian paper had reprinted Danish cartoon depictions and Norway was participating in Natos bombing of Libya. Breivik is merely the face of a growing poisonous mindset throughout Europe that is slowly infecting the man on the street whose lifestyle is deteriorating due to welfare cuts, job losses and rising prices. People feel helpless against decisions made by governments and are looking for scapegoats to blame for their ills. They unfairly blame immigrants for taking their jobs (even those they wouldnt dream of doing), importing diseases and polluting their cities with alien cultures. They fear being swamped by people of different colour and faiths and those are the fears that far-right parties and groups such as the EDL, the British National Party (BNP), Austrias anti-immigrant Freedom Party, Belgiums anti-immigration Freedom Block (VB) and Frances National Front, ruthlessly play upon. Breivik who champions cultural Christianity and sees himself as a modern Crusader knight cites 'multiculturalism as being the cause of societys moral breakdown and mans emasculation whereas, in reality, closely-knit immigrant communities have a strong moral compass and make behavioural demands on their members which is often why those communities hesitate to assimilate. The dwindling church attendance and loss of family values in Britain and elsewhere in Europe has nothing to do with 'those foreigners and everything to do with the 1960s baby boomer revolution that produced a culture of materialism and self-gratification. Personally, I believe that multiculturalism enhances a nation. For one thing, it gives multiple new dimensions to cities that were formerly boringly monochrome. It provides nationals with the opportunity to explore different cultures, taste exciting cuisines and, most of all, to learn that under the skin human beings share the same needs, hopes and dreams; things that I experienced growing-up in a multi-ethnic area of London. There is no better template for the benefits of a multicultural society than Dubai where people from every corner of the globe of every shade and faith work alongside one another and socialise together in a spirit of friendship and harmony. Europeans should take note and stop the slippery slope towards hate before its groundswell becomes impossible to control. Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. Gulf News