Among the factors why Muslims in the West have been kept on the back-foot has been the constant bombardment of negative imagery, the incessant deployment of hate terminology, and the use of individual misconduct of Muslims as a tool to throw a wide net of collective guilt over the entire community. It is happening, in part, because in the 21st century Islam has become globally politicized and Muslims are not competing in the battle of ideas. Yet, amidst the seemingly impenetrable grey clouds, there is a perceptible shift and glimmers of light are beginning to break through. Females have been in the forefront. For example, in the UK, a Pakistan-origin woman has become the Chairperson of the Conservative Party - the same party which 30 years before had helped foster a racially-charged environment of intolerance and adversarial politics that led to a spate of 'Paki-bashing episodes during the Margaret Thacher era. It is a sign that England is slowly maturing to accept itself as a plural society. In Germany, the top female soccer player and a World Cup winner is Fatmire Bajramaj, a Kosovo-born Muslim refugee, who was featured on the front cover of Deutchland magazine. In the US, on May 16, during the annual national beauty pageant, the coveted Miss USA crown was won by Rima Fakih, a Lebanese-born Muslim who was previously Miss Michigan. If properly followed up, the foregoing may signal a trend which may prove to be an irreversible march toward inclusion of a hitherto excluded community. But these signs of progress are running on a parallel track with splashes of bigotry, like the artificially manufactured burqa/niqab furor, fanned by French President Sarkozy, who has a reputation for Muslim-baiting, as well as the Swiss ban on minarets. Not to be left behind are the so-called tolerant liberal elites among the Dutch, Scandinavians, and Belgians who have degraded their societies through needless provocations and insults against Islam. It may be mentioned in passing that, when it really mattered and when they were cornered and weak, they all bowed before the Nazi juggernaut during the peak moments of Hitlers Third Reich. Constant exclusion carries its own repercussions. The West may have blundered in its one-sided view of Turkey, including its rebuff of that countrys quest to join the European Union. By doing so, it sent an unmistakable message that Turkey is not respected, that it is being taken for granted, and that its alliance is inconsequential. This had the unintentional effect of pushing Turkey into asserting itself on the international stage. Most notably, Turkey has done so by taking a stance against Israel over its assault on Gaza; forging a strategic relationship with its old foe, Russia; and trying, in tandem with Brazil, to block sanctions against Iran. There is an instructive element about the Miss USA coverage which needs to be heeded, especially so, by those who feel that the road to easy coexistence lies through assimilation. Muslims often are attacked for being dogmatic, different, intolerant, rigid, and impervious to the pace and requirements of modern-day development. Yet when a Muslim girl wins the Miss USA crown, some Western quarters, instead of welcoming it, have slammed the judges for their choice and have accused Rima of being a terrorist sympathizer and Hezbollah supporter. In other words, Muslims get hit whether they cover or uncover their bodies. The results of timidity and indifference are self-explanatory. The need now is to dare more and care more. The writer is a barrister and a senior political analyst.