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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Muslims in Europe

Francis Fukuyama writes that the problem of radical Islam ranges far beyond the middle east and may in fact, at least as it relates to terrorism, be more prevelent in Europe. OpinionJournal :

The real challenge for democracy lies in Europe, where the problem is an internal one of integrating large numbers of angry young Muslims and doing so in a way that does not provoke an even angrier backlash from right-wing populists. Two things need to happen: First, countries like Holland and Britain need to reverse the counterproductive multiculturalist policies that sheltered radicalism, and crack down on extremists. But second, they also need to reformulate their definitions of national identity to be more accepting of people from non-Western backgrounds. The first has already begun to happen. In recent months, both the Dutch and British have in fact come to an overdue recognition that the old version of multiculturalism they formerly practiced was dangerous and counterproductive. Liberal tolerance was interpreted as respect not for the rights of individuals, but of groups, some of whom were themselves intolerant (by, for example, dictating whom their daughters could befriend or marry). Out of a misplaced sense of respect for other cultures, Muslims minorities were left to regulate their own behavior, an attitude which dovetailed with a traditional European corporatist approaches to social organization. In Holland, where the state supports separate Catholic, Protestant and socialist schools, it was easy enough to add a Muslim 'pillar' that quickly turned into a ghetto disconnected from the surrounding society.
While I think a democratic middle east is critical to defeating radical Islam, I certainly agree that we cannot afford to ignore the problems in Europe as well. Unless European societies can find a way to integrate Muslims there will continue to be a severe problem. Part of integrating Muslims is acceptance, but another part is demanding that they follow basic norms of society. Equal treatment of women is a good start there. On can question whether the Muslims who are rioting in France live in a democracy or not. While France as a whole is certainly a democracy, the slums around Paris have been in an effective state of anarchy, propped up by 'bread and circuses' for some time now. Certainly the day to day lives of women in these slums is at least as bad, and probably worse, than that of women in most Muslim countries. This has been tolerated out of a respect for 'Muslim Culture' and, I am sure, directly connected to the riots happening now.


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