Europe’s Citizens Differ with Leaders on Muslims
While the leadership of European nations, particularly in Germany, seem unconcerned about the detrimental effects of alienated refugees and immigrants, the general population is clearly worried. A Chatham House survey gave respondents the following statement: ‘All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped’. They were then asked to what extent did they agree or disagree with this statement. Overall, across all 10 of the European countries an average of 55% agreed that all further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped, 25% neither agreed nor disagreed and 20% disagreed. Majorities in all but two of the ten states agreed, ranging from 71% in Poland, 65% in Austria, 53% in Germany and 51% in Italy to 47% in the United Kingdom and 41% in Spain. In no country did the percentage that disagreed surpass 32%.
The Council on Foreign Relations notes that “Despite signs that Muslims are beginning to succeed in business and academia in countries such as France and Germany, many analysts say most of Western Europe’s Muslims are poorly integrated into society. They cite closed ethnic neighborhoods, high crime rates in Muslim communities, calls for use of sharia law in Europe, the wearing of the veil, and other examples as evidence of a conflict with European values…Oxford University scholar Tariq Ramadan wrote in the Christian Science Monitor: ‘Over the last two decades Islam has become connected to so many controversial debates … it is difficult for ordinary citizens to embrace this new Muslim presence as a positive factor.’ Fears over a possible major demographic shift toward Islam as well as ongoing Muslim assimilation problems highlight the continuing divide between Europe and its Muslim population.”
A Foreign Policy Research Institute review reports that “The alienation of European-residing Muslims is a serious issue. “Officials believe that over 5,000 Western Europeans have made their way to Syria to support ISIS. However, the actual number is considerably higher according to the Soufan Group, with several European countries contributing a disturbing number of fighters to ISIS: France (1700), Russia (2400), UK (760) and Belgium (470). For a country like Belgium with only 11 million citizens, having almost 500 citizens join ISIS is a shockingly high number. Furthermore, large pockets of Muslims are concentrated in cities like Brussels where more than a quarter of Belgium’s Muslim population resides. These heavily concentrated Muslim enclaves, according to a 2007 report from the Centre of European Policy Studies, are more likely, than the EU general population, to be poor, segregated and crime-prone neighborhoods.”
That alienation takes significant form in a variety of ways. The Gatestone Institute disclosed in April that “Swedish ambulance personnel want gas masks and bulletproof vests to protect their staff against the escalating attacks, similar to equipment used by staff working in war zones [when entering Muslim neighborhoods.]” It’s part of a growing pattern of lawlessness, or more accurately, a rejection of European national laws, in some Muslim communities. Gatestone notes that “In an essay published in February 2016, Stockholm police inspector Lars Alvarsjö warned that the Swedish legal system is close to collapse. The influx of asylum seekers and ethnic gangs has overwhelmed the country and its understaffed police force. In many suburbs, criminal gangs have taken control and determine the rules. The police, fire brigades and ambulance personnel in these areas are routinely met with violent attacks.”
The blame for the general failure of Muslims to integrate into European society is not the fault of any inherent bias. Leon de Winter, writing for Politico, explains: “The notion that Moroccan-Belgians suffer from widespread exclusion, discrimination, and suppression is ridiculous…Life in Belgium is exceptionally good and safe for migrants — if they are willing to integrate into their new cultural environment, if they are willing to act as individuals, study with passion and openness, and accept the secular system of the West…There is no difference at all in socioeconomic status between youngsters from a low-education, blue-collar Belgian background and youngsters from a Muslim migrant background…The other explanation for the high unemployment figures among Muslims in Europe has nothing to do with exclusion and discrimination. A large segment of the migrant population is doing just fine, but a significant number — some say as many as 50 percent — have not rid themselves of the mental and cultural conditions that have kept their home country in its ‘developing country’ status. The denial of equal rights to women, the lack of separation of state and church, bad education, excessive religiosity, patriarchal machismo — these are all on display in areas with a high percentage of migrants… almost 60 percent of Europe’s Muslims reject homosexuals as friends and 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted. More than half believe that the West is out to destroy Islam.”
Originally published on New York Analysis of Policy and Government.
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