Friday, July 7, 2006
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Just how disaffected are European Muslims?
Going by news stories -- the London bombings, the French riots, the Danish cartoons -- 2005 was not a terribly good year for Muslim immigrants living in Europe.
So it's interesting to see that according to the Pew Global Attitudes project, the situation might not be as bleak as previously thought:
Muslims in Europe worry about their future, but their concern is more economic than religious or cultural. And while there are some signs of tension between Europe's majority populations and its Muslim minorities, Muslims there do not generally believe that most Europeans are hostile toward people of their faith. Still, over a third of Muslims in France and one-in-four in Spain say they have had a bad experience as a result of their religion or ethnicity.This part is particularly interesting:
Religion is central to the identity of European Muslims. With the exception of Muslims in France, they tend to identify themselves primarily as Muslim rather than as British, Spanish, or German. In France, Muslims are split almost evenly on this question. The level of Muslim identification in Britain, Spain, and Germany is similar to that in Pakistan, Nigeria, and Jordan, and even higher than levels in Egypt, Turkey, and Indonesia. By contrast the general populations in Western Europe are far more secular in outlook. Roughly six-in-ten in Spain, Germany, and Britain identify primarily with their country rather than their religion, as do more than eight-in-ten in France.Click here to read the whole report. posted by Dan on 07.07.06 at 08:33 AM
This isn't entirely new. As I wrote in a research paper a year and a half ago, the main problem with European Muslims is their lack of integration and economic difficulties. In fact, however, these tend to impact 2nd generation Muslims more than their immigrant parents - perhaps due to the expectation that immigrants wouldn't do so well. It is also part of European identity and Europe's focus on a monocausal identity that leaves out any diversity (France's head scarve debacle comes to mind). Again, I wrote about this last year (although may not be submitting this to the right places -- any ideas on where to get this published would be most appreciative - ahein [at] email . com !)posted by: amechad on 07.07.06 at 08:33 AM [permalink]
That report can be filed in the "Duh" folder. Europe as a whole has been doing everything it possibly can to avoid seeing any facet of Islam as a problem since 9/11. And muslims everywhere make it clear that religion is above all else. That is straight out of the Koran, after all.posted by: Justin on 07.07.06 at 08:33 AM [permalink]
These results are not surprising in that the usual reaction of governments and the media to 'troubles' regarding Islam is to redouble efforts to promote multiculturalism. I don't think this truly changes many attitudes -- look at the 'revealed preferences' in the BNP's large gains at council elections this year. (Of course, it is still a small and fringe party) What is does do is signal to the population at large that 'xenophobic' attitudes are something you'd better not share with a total stranger (a pollster). In the secrecy of the ballot box we are starting to see some change.
Here is a little factoid from the paper , British Muslims are evenly split 40 to 41 on whether Iran having atomic weapons is a good thing . That is, of course, vastly at variance with the general population.posted by: Mitchell Young on 07.07.06 at 08:33 AM [permalink]
"Going by news stories -- the London bombings, the French riots, the Danish cartoons -- 2005 was not a terribly good year for Muslim immigrants living in Europe."
What in the world are you talking about?
"Judging by recent news stories -- abortion clinic bombings, riots in Los Angeles, piss Christ -- the recent past was not terribly good for Christians living in the United States."
This is just as incoherent as your first sentence.
How is 1) terrorist bombings by extremists, 2) riots by Muslims nihilists and teenagers, and 3) the existence of political cartoons an indication of the health or quality or 'goodness' of a year for a population of tens of millions of people? And how is it an indication of the 'goodness' of the religion that includes the bombers, rather than an indication of the 'goodness' of the religion that includes the victims? Does rioting indicate the rioters aren't having a good year, or that the victims of that rioting aren't having a good year? Do political cartoons represent an attack on the health or 'goodness' of their targets (perhaps they should be banned for that reason?)?
"Americans, however, split about evenly on this question: 42% say they first think of themselves as Christians versus 48% who think of themselves primarily as Americans."
PLEASE tell me they went on to ask these respondents who they voted for, Bush or Kerry?posted by: Anderson on 07.07.06 at 08:33 AM [permalink]
First, of course, the French riots were hardly religious - the rioters were largely African and by no means ipso facto Muslim. Race/ethnicity was the driver, not religion.
But leaving aside the impoverished English langauge reporting and blog commentary, yes, this report is interesting as rrather more reflective of the complexity of the situ....
Amusing though the Phobic reaction of Justin.posted by: The Lounsbury on 07.07.06 at 08:33 AM [permalink]
Finally some sanity. This report makes complete sense.
After the French riots, a few people in the blogosphere went off their rockers and were evoking visions of european jihad on-the-loose. Turns out the perps were mostly kids from sink estates, for whom "jihad" was mainly a cool word in hip hop vernacular. The main impetus for the burning wasn't to further Islamist goals, it was to draw attention to the social gulag the French authorities have been quite adept at glossing over.
Here in Canada recently the cops broke up a group of Muslims who were purportedly conspiring to do bad things; sawing off Stephen Harper's head on Parliament Hill being one of them. I semi bought into the hype at first, but on closer inspection, they seem more like inept amateurs, or even clowns, with little or no savvy in the terroristic arts. They even spent time at a rural retreat on weekends, where loud popping noises and yells alerted neighbors and the local constabulary to the goings on.
It's heartening to read that europeans have resisted falling into the bogeyman trap. Maybe they could pass on a few guidelines to Bush. It's becoming tiresome to see every low level Al Qaeda suspect being dressed up as spook-of-the-week with designs on civilization as we know it.
Harry's Place has a few good posts that deal with the plight of the Muslim community in the UK. David t floats this eminently sensible suggestion ...
"We must promote, confidently, a sense of ourselves as friends, compatriots, and neighbours: a vision which is capable of challenging the simplistic and reductionist notion of a worldwide brotherhood of suffering Muslims ...
posted by: Aidan Maconachy on 07.07.06 at 08:33 AM [permalink]
"French people saying that immigration from the Middle East and North Africa "
In France there is no immigration from Middle East.
"the rioters were largely African and by no means ipso facto Muslim"
Exact. Rioters were a mix of Arab, African and French living in housing project.
"Religion is central to the identity of European Muslims. With the exception of Muslims in France, they tend to identify themselves primarily as Muslim rather than as British, Spanish, or German"
In France Arab (80% from Algeria and Morocco) are not very religous.
It's a bit ironic that Aidan dismisses terrorist threats from home grown muslims a year and a day after the bombings in the London Tube. Whether inept or not, it should give pause that you have such a population in your country.posted by: Mitchell Young on 07.07.06 at 08:33 AM [permalink]
I'm not dismissing the threat. Let's face it, even a kid with a bit of know-how could pull off a calamity. That said, it's crucial to maintain some perspective. This crew are representitive of a fringe element in the Muslim community, many degrees removed from Al Qaeda proper.
In N.Ireland one of the biggest mistakes during The Troubles was the isolation and demonization of entire Republican communites. This simply enabled the Provos to dig in deeper.
By dealing with these threats in a rational and fair handed fashion, we will be demonstrating our goodwill to the Muslim community at large. We need them on-side, and a number of influential Muslims in Canada are eager to bridge the divide, in order to more effectively deal with the challenge of home-grown extremism.
It's no easy task to take on hard core elements in your community. After the McCartney murder by the IRA in the Short Strand area of Belfast not so long ago, none of the local people would volunteer information. Here in Ontario, when shootings occur in clubs in the Jane Finch area of Toronto, it's rare for anyone to talk to the police. So, the passivity of Muslims in dealing with extremists in their midst shouldn't be read as compliance. Many are simply confused and scared.
This is why great care has to be taken to taken to get it right.
posted by: Aidan Maconachy on 07.07.06 at 08:33 AM [permalink]
"semi bought into the hype at first, but on closer inspection, they seem more like inept amateurs, or even clowns, with little or no savvy in the terroristic arts."
Of course if the 9/11 hijackers had been caught no doubt this would have been the reaction from the Left.posted by: andrew on 07.07.06 at 08:33 AM [permalink]
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