President Donald Trump, like his predecessors before him, has discovered the potent language of religious tolerance and interfaith unity when discussing Islam, as he demonstrated in his speech in Saudi Arabia to leaders of some 50 Muslim nations. But unlike previous presidents, he has not linked that rhetoric with recognition of the large, vibrant Muslim community in the U.S.
The American Civil Liberties Union collected more than $11 million and 150,000 new members. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Twitter account gained 9,000 followers. And the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism and other bigotries, saw donations increase fiftyfold.
In the days since Donald Trump won the presidency, these spikes, in support for groups that defend religious and other minorities, speak to a fear that the president-elect will trample on their rights — or at least empower those who would.
Sunlight slants across a classroom at the Catholic University of Lyon, where the Bible dominates an evening lecture.
The subject may not seem surprising in this ancient city that was once a bastion of French Catholicism and a hub for Christian missionaries. But the dozen or so people jotting notes are not theology students.
One young woman wears a headscarf. A man sports the beard of a devout Muslim. Still others are non-Muslim civil servants working for the local government.
All are enrolled in a program on the French concept of secularism and religious tolerance that is jointly run by two Lyon universities and the city’s Grand Mosque. They’re the unlikely foot soldiers of a national campaign for “Islam a la Francaise.”
The drive has taken on new urgency since January’s terrorist attacks in Paris and the departure of hundreds of French youths to join jihadist movements in the Middle East.
The country’s leftist government has responded with a raft of new measures to fight homegrown extremism.