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Muslims in Europe

Last year I remember discussing the issue of Muslims in Europe with a friend, remarking that "If the Europeans do not figure out how to integrate these communities, it is going to eventually lead to the typical response many European nations have towards perceived outsiders." While one cannot take the acts of one lunatic like Anders Behring Breivik, the terrorist behind the recent tragedy in Norway, to in any way be representative of a larger whole, he does bring to the public discussion views that are not all that radical to "fringe" political elements around Europe, as evidenced by comments from Italian and French members of the European Parliament. Many far-right parties in Europe are of the belief that they are under invasion from Muslim forces, and are advocating everything from banning minarets to trying to halt immigration from Muslim populations. The reaction of European leaders, particularly from Austria and France, to Turkish attempts to join the European Union shows a wider feeling towards the Muslim issue as well, though not as narrowly discriminatory as some of these political parties nor anywhere near as insanely violent as Brevik in Norway.

There are many problems with this issue. Except for some extreme cases now and then, many Muslims have not in the past had difficulty becoming Americans, for the same reason why most people do not have difficulty becoming Americans-- our nation is built around an idea that all men are free, and it is the philosophy of America that binds us. In Europe, this is much more of a difficult problem-- one cannot become French, or German, or Italian, even if your family has lived in one of those countries for generations. The European Union was supposed to help stop this by creating some sort of grand European identity, but it has largely failed in this regard because it does not accept the truths of human nature that America does. This means that Muslims in Europe are not being integrated into their nations, and are forming sub-cultures that are highly distinct and independent from the rest of society, hurting the entire cohesiveness of civil society in Europe.

And yet Europe has found a way to make this even worse. At the same time it is marginalizing and isolating its Muslim populations, and at the same time some nations are actively persecuting Islam, many European nations are simultaneously caving to political correctness in regards to Muslim sensitivities, leading to truly damning things like not teaching the Holocaust because of anti-Semitic sentiments from Muslim students. If there is anywhere that people need the Holocaust rammed down their threats and hit in the head with, it is Europe. It also appears as if the European Union project may be leading to opposition nationalism within some nations to maintain national identities, which could in turn be unfriendly towards immigrant populations in general and Muslim populations in particular. You add to this some politicians and many individuals falsely blaming unemployment in Europe on immigrants from Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa, and you just have a whole range of problems and frictions that will continue building. (It is worth noting as an aside that there is little difference between how Muslim populations are being treated and how Gypsies/Roma have always been treated in Europe).

It is hard to tell how to resolve or at least begin discussing this issue. Certainly a large part of the problem is the Muslim populations of Europe themselves, yes, but a great deal of the problem is just Europe itself-- the same sort of problems that Europe has always faced. I fear the knee-jerk reaction in Europe will be to clamp down on the religious rights of Muslims, clamp down on immigration, and continue to marginalize the existing populations-- perhaps even to the point of beginning deportations in the future. Anders Breivik is a madman, but he came from a pulse that is beating throughout Europe and needs to be addressed-- this is a seriously important matter that also has consequences for the United States, though our position is not as dire as Europe's. Their Muslim populations are more separate from civil society than ours, and their nationalistic tendencies are more severe than ours. The European Union is and will continue to be an ineffective way of discussing this issue, and I'm not sure if the individual European nations would be able to either-- but the roots of the problem need to be discussed. If they aren't, the threat of Islamic extremism will persist and the number of potential Anders Breiviks will grow in response. It's tough. In the mean time, prayers go out to all in Norway and respect for the resolve they are showing in the wake of these terrible events.
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Discussions - 12 Comments

"at the same time some nations are actively persecuting Islam"

What are you talking about? The hijab ban in France? Do tell: the Egyptian Copts are getting attacked daily, the South Sudan just ended a genocidal civil war with the Muslim government in Khartoum, Christians and the Muslim officials who tolerate them are being killed by devout Muslims in Pakistan for blasphemy - please enlighten us to what diabolic attrocities the Europeans are committing.

It appears you've drank the Religion of Peace koolaid . . . Blaming this problem on the Europeans is ridiculous.

Why is it that Muslims from Algeria to Indonesia want to immigrate to Western countries in the first place - more specifically, why do they leave their majority-Muslim country for a Western society? Could it be that most of the majority-Muslim countries of the world are oppressive societies with limited oportunities for all but the ruling classes and limited freedom for all? If the same economic and social opportunities in Germany were available in Turkey or if those in France were available in Algeria their Muslim citizens wouldn't have immigrated to Europe in the first place.

Why is it that those social and economic opportunities aren't available in majority-Muslim countries? Could it have something to do with the fact that Islam has maxed-out its ability to modernize? Most of Europe is deeply secular and libertine, and Christianity where it actually does still have any significance is a matter of the heart. "Integration" is a two-way street: the Europeans could do a better job to be sure, but it is ultimately the immigrant's responsibility to adjust to his new country of choice.

Unless Islam finds itself a Martin Luther figure, these problems will continue. Once again, Christ said his kingdom was not of this world, Mohamed was a military and political leader, and you can't get a square peg into a round hole.


I really wish we'd heard these conservative concerns about the alleged incompatibility of Islam and democracy during the run-up to the Iraq War.

To say that Islam is not capable of reform is preposterous. The religion is almost 600 years younger than Christianity, and it took Christianity almost 1500 years to reach its Reformation. Even after Reformation, Protestant monarchs continued to commit egregious acts of violence against subjects in their own countries. And many of those subjects left their homes to go to places more free (like what eventually became the United States). I can only imagine that it's natural that present-day Muslims who are trying to escape persecution would do the same.

Andrew, you're sounding more and more like Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer these days.

John Moser,

We did, or I did, anyway, sine this was a great argument among conservatives, whether or not democracy was possible with a religion that seems to require a theocratic government and the suppression or subordination of other religions. You can probably find some arguments about this in the blog's archives.

Well played, Sir.

You were not paying attention. Not anyone's problem but yours.

(Electoral and deliberative institutions are atypical but present in the Muslim world).

Did I say Islam is not capable of reform, or rather that it needed to reform? Hmm . . . "Unless Islam finds itself a Martin Luther figure, these problems will continue." Words have meaning. Incidentally, you could replace "Islam" with "Medieval Catholic Church" and it works the same.

No one would be concerned with the demographic changes if it weren't for the fact that in many majority-Muslim nations non-Muslims are routinely persecuted, and, whether the fault of the Europeans or the immigrants, they are living in secluded communities which prevent them from assimilating. I am not of the opinion that it's all part of some devious plot to continue on where Suleiman the Magnificant left off, however, please don't act like the concerns are unfounded. How many churches are there in Saudi Arabia?

I'm not saying Muslim immigrants in Europe are blameless; they are probably more to blame for some of the causes of the integration problem than the Europeans. However, Europe is ineffectively managing the problem In a way that is making it worse for everyone and needs to change in a way that does not include marginalizing Muslims any more nor caving to the pressures of political correctness. Admittedly I have no idea how to begin addressing this, but it needs to be done or else we're all in trouble.

Your final sentence seems to imply that the texts of Islam contains a foundational deficiency that prevents modernization.

"Once again, Christ said his kingdom was not of this world, Mohamed was a military and political leader, and you can't get a square peg into a round hole."

Am I reading this incorrectly?

Also, your question: "Could it have something to do with the fact that Islam has maxed-out its ability to modernize?"

Was this a serious question, or an Andrew B.-esque rhetorical?

The answer to the second question is one to which I do not have an answer. I believe Islam will continue to produce economic and social stagnation in lands where it prevails - much like most of Central/South America where social justice ideas have a great deal of influence and many African countries where tribalism = politics. In all these lands the citizens are subject to the rule of men (or the leadership's interpretation of Sharia) rather than the rule of law. Do you disagree?

"Once again, Christ said his kingdom was not of this world, Mohamed was a military and political leader, and you can't get a square peg into a round hole."

I'll try to keep it short, but here goes: as renowned scholar of Islam Bernard Lewis points out, (in Crises of Islam, I believe), the founder of Islam, the Prophet Mohamed [PBOH], expanded Islam through conquest at the head of an army. Christianity's founder, Jesus of Nazareth, was executed as a common criminal by the state and his followers spent the next 300 years being persecuted off and on as a matter of public policy. When a Muslim and a Christian ask of themselves WWMD or WWJD, they will reach radically different conclusions. Do you disagree?

This is part of the difficulty of modernizing/internalizing Islam: Christianity needed only to reform the political power of the institution of the Catholic Church, not the religion itself; Islam, from what I've read of it, needs to do both. St. Thomas Aquinas convincingly demonstrated the compatability of Western philosophy and Christianity to his contemporaries; Averroes, whose works St. Aquinas pulled from heavily, was unable to do the same for Islam.

Actually, Islam has already had its "Martin Luther." His name was Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab (yes, the father of Wahhabism). If you look into what Wahhab actually taught, the parallels with Luther are startling. And, it is also important to note the the Protestant Reformation produced many strict and rather extreme sects (e.g., Calvinists, Shakers), just like Wahhabism. The major difference is that the teachings of Christ are less easy to twist into violent rhetoric, whereas many verses of the Koran are pretty explicit about militant action (although, to be fair, there are also some very tolerant verses as well).

No, they've had their reformation. If they follow the evolution of Christianity, the next step is a gradual lessening of religious belief and ultimately mass apostasy (which brings a new set of problems).

Dr Salim Mansur (look for him on youtube dot com) he's a superstar writer and modern Muslim. Canada also has Tarek Fatah, Irshad Manji. The problem is; Muslims reject these people and these are the people that are reforming the faith into something that won't destroy society.

Canada is slowly moving down the E.U road to civil war. We're already seeing burquas and headscarves all over the place. This is dangeous and Canada needs to stop immigration and stop being so tolerant to the intolerant.

Essay is online google "Slaughtering sheep" @ the bulletin dot ca.

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