Islam and Europe

Earlier this year, Catholicgauze posted “The United Caliphates of Europe,” which he had earlier presented at the yearly meeting of the Association of American Geographers in San Francisco.

For those who messed it, another lesson in the danger of importing Islamic microsotates is from in the International Herald Tribune‘s “France stunned by rioters’ savagery (hat-tip to Glenn):

In retrospect, it was not a good idea to have left his pistol at home. Called to the scene of a traffic accident in the Paris suburbs last Sunday, Jean-François Illy, a regional police chief, came face to face with a mob of immigrant youths armed with baseball bats, iron bars and shotguns.

What happened next has sickened the nation. As Illy tried to reassure the gang that there would be an investigation into the deaths of two teenagers whose motorbike had just collided with a police car, he heard a voice shouting: “Somebody must pay for this. Some pigs must die tonight!”

The 43-year-old commissaire realised it was time to leave, but that was not possible: they set his car ablaze. He stood as the mob closed in on him, parrying the first few baseball bat blows with his arms. An iron bar in the face knocked him down.

“I tried to roll myself into a ball on the ground,” said Illy from his hospital bed. He was breathing with difficulty because several of his ribs had been broken and one had punctured his lung.

His bruised and bloodied face signalled a worrying new level of barbarity in the mainly Muslim banlieues, where organised gangs of rioters used guns against police in a two-day rampage of looting and burning last week.

As the European Union follows the United States in adding members to increase its labor and land, Brussells must be careful to minimize its exposure to whatever is wrong in Islamic cultures. The West Balkans and Ukraine are logical next steps for integration. Contra Secretary Miliband (hat-tip to Tom), integration of Muslim countries, such as Turkey, or states that may be Islamic by the end of the century, such as Russia, should be delayed for the time being. (Economic and business ties, of course, can expand and their natural rate.)

7 thoughts on “Islam and Europe”

  1. Ahh, the joys of the ghetto! Man tosses what he isn't comfortable with into a black hole, then is shocked and horrified when what crawls out of that hole is ten times uglier than what he tossed in:P Unfortunately, NO ONE is going to like the steps needed to fix this, at least in the short term. Which (near as I can tell) are. . .

    Short term
    1. Give anti-discrimination laws some sharp teeth.
    2. Give law enforcement in the ghettos teeth too.
    3. If the Muslim immigrants aren't already citizens, give them a path to achieve it. It doesn't have to be an easy path: Germany's new language law, Holland's citizenship test, time in the Foreign Legion, or criminal record restrictions like I suggested with the Palestinians would all be appropriate approaches. There just has to be a path of some sort to being able to call themselves French (British, whatever).
    3. If a portion of the young people don't want to be French or whatever, don't force them. Find out what job training they need to migrate to their parents' home countries and give it to them along with a one-way plane ticket. Let them be someone else's headache.
    4. Depending on how badly the immigrants' children have been educated, giving the ones who want to become citizens remedial job training would also be a good idea.

    Long term:
    Fix the birth rates and the economy, and make sure the immigrants' schools are both up to snuff academically and integrated with the schools of native-born children.

  2. The best weapon the French have in this is their allergy to multiculturalism. Let's hope they can keep it.

    In the future, this sort of friction should be minimized when possible. The West Balkans and Ukraine are better sources of new labor than North Africa or Turkey.

  3. Yeah, but they still have to do something with the immigrants they've already got. And remember the histrionics over “Polish plumbers” during the last French election?

  4. Dan,

    Have you ever read “Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah” by Oilvier Roy? He makes some interesting points, like, e.g., Islamism is non-democratic but nevertheless a force for secularisation (as it reifies the ideal of a nation in an area or demographic that was previously more interested in tribal politics and blood ties).

    Political Islam in Europe (where I live — UK) is in fact much more western than Islamic; basically junior school Marxism (a point which Paul Berman also kinda makes).

    So anyway, I'm wondering whether the violence in France is particularly “Islamic” and whether it should count against increasing connectivity with other states that are “Muslim” (and I'm not certain that either Russia or Turkey should be discribed as such).

    Doesn't Turkey's recently increased “Islamisation” (if you will) really only represent an increase in democracy and the integration of previously Islamist and marginalised parties? Won't democracy in the Muslim world always result in this in the short term?



  5. Vimothy,

    I haven't read the book sounds interesting.

    That said, I would warn that just because a movement is “modernizing” doesn't mean it's good… as I wrote earlier [1]:

    “The problem with the Arab world (and those it influences) is not that it is modernizing too slowly, it is it is modernizing in the wrong way.”

    The last “non-democratic force for secularization] were the Naserists, Baathists, etc, who did so much to destroy traditional cultures, and replace them with something much emptier, much more modern, and much worse.


    Indeed, but it's probably best for Europe if the natural economic stress of integration low-wage workers (for the purpose of decreasing the relative cost of labor) isn't complicated by cultural/civilizational tension, as well.


  6. I dunno, I think both you and Vimothy are reading more into this than is necessary.

    Imagine, your parents hauled you to a new and strange country when you were young, raised you in a Cabrini Green-style tenement and sent you to a shitty school. When you aren't underqualified for a job, you're being told (by someone or another) that you can't get a job because of your foreign heritage or skin color. And when the police aren't ignoring your entire neighborhood altogether, they're hassling you and your friends at slight provocations. Now imagine you're in your teens or early 20s (aka, the angry years).

    You don't need to be muslim to riot under those conditions and if memory serves correct the Arabs weren't the only ones rioting a couple of years ago (I haven't read enough about the latest riots to know if that's still the case). You wouldn't even need to be muslim to be recruited by extremist groups– remember the Black Panthers in the '60s?

  7. Michael,

    The problems with Islam is not confined to Muslims living in Europe… similar problems flair up throughout both Muslim countries and countries with Muslim minorities. (The US being a notable exception.)

    Regardless, even if it was a problem with Europe (which I've considered previously), it still makes sense for Europe not to expose itself to more friction than necessary. If the same labor (euro-cost-wise) can be imported from the West Balkans or Ukraine as Arab countries or Turkey, but without the problems of “a new and strange” cultural shock, then do it.


  8. True enough, I'm just saying Don't get so caught up in the macro-scale demographic issues that you overlook the more mundane realities. Changing where it gets immigrants from in the future doesn't change the challenges of the muslim- and other- immigrants the EU already has. And treating Balkan and Ukrainian immigrants the same as it's treated said muslim immigrants in the past probably won't produce wonderful results.

  9. “Changing where it gets immigrants from in the future doesn't change the challenges of the muslim- and other- immigrants the EU already has.”

    True, but it can re-enforce assimilation as the EU muslim population loses a powerful connection — continued immigration — to their ancestral countries.

    “And treating Balkan and Ukrainian immigrants the same as it's treated said muslim immigrants in the past probably won't produce wonderful results.”

    Indeed. Still, the lack of rioting, bombings, calls for holy wars, etc, even in the face of very questionable government policies (Italy's expulsions of Romanians, etc), imply that it would be considerably harder for a eastern Europeans to feel that they are being treated the same as European Muslims perceive their lot.

  10. Dan,

    “Globalised Islam” is totally recommended: it focuses on the European Muslim experience as the paradigm example of the search for a new Muslim identity under the conditions of globalisation / modernity. A really thought provoking read.

    One of Roy's points is that democratisation and secularisation are not necessarily carried out or helped by forces or entities that are in and of themselves democratic or secular. And furthermore, that secularism in the Mid East & wider Muslim world is, as you note, associated with dictatorships and non-democracies (Egypt, Turkey, Syria, etc). So Islamism (let's face it, a political, not, religious movement), from Roy's perspective, is a secularising force, because, although not secular itself, it acts to bind adherents to the idea of a nation, a group identitiy not based on blood ties, to say nothing of the western, secular (and obviously leftist) concepts it embeds in Muslim discourse, and the expression of a “religiosity” previously denied by the various Muslim autocrats.

    Roy uses the example of The Reformation as an secularising event that was not driven by in-any-sense secular actors or individuals.

  11. Michael,

    France has serious problems, IMO, because it relentlessly marginalises Muslim immigrants, and its socialised economy brooks no entry into fair competition with established businesses and labour pools. It seems obvious that they are going to come up with their own, new identity when there is nothing that they can buy into or own themselves on offer from the host nation (unlike, say, America, or even to a lesser extent the UK).

    However, I tihnk it's also fair to say that the riots stem from these “figured worlds” or imagined identities that define European Muslims. They are not the reasonable response to marginalisation, because they are also part of the cause of marginalisation, and because French youth have historically done the same thing for similarly hallucinatory reasons ('68, etc ad absurdam). And the riots, for e.g., you can try to explain with class war theories, but what about the gang rapes?

    Agree, though, that Islam is something of a red herring.

  12. I think the Reformation is a good analogy. Bloody, fundamentalist movements against a corrupt, traditional order. Lots of chaos and death.

    No reason for Europe to expose herself to that again.

    (Agreed, of course, on the closed nature of France's economy helping. The question then becomes whether importing a new labor class versed in religio-marxist opposition to globalization is a reasonable method of opening it. I would say not.)

  13. Russia – a future muslim country????? what are you smoking guys and is there something left:))))?
    As for the Ukraine – poor EU haven't digested Poland yet…

  14. nee,

    For a reference, check out this article from the San Francisco Chronicle [1]. Some good discussion on what this means can be found in the comments at Coming Anarchy [2]

    “Russia's overall population is dropping at a rate of 700,000 people a year, largely due to the short life spans and low birth rates of ethnic Russians. The country's 2002 census shows that the national fertility rate is 1.5 children per woman, far below the 2.1 children per woman needed to maintain the country's population of about 143 million. The rate in Moscow is even lower, at 1.1 children per woman.

    But Russia's Muslims are bucking that trend. The fertility rate for Tatars living in Moscow, for example, is six children per woman, Goble said, while the Chechen and Ingush communities are averaging 10 children per woman. And hundreds of thousands of Muslims from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have been flocking to Russia in search of work.

    Since 1989, Russia's Muslim population has increased by 40 percent to about 25 million. By 2015, Muslims will make up a majority of Russia's conscript army, and by 2020 a fifth of the population.

    “If nothing changes, in 30 years people of Muslim descent will definitely outnumber ethnic Russians,” Goble said. “

    While some time is needed to raise Poland up to European standards, the Poles are already experiencing a labor shortage [3], and have begun importing workers from Belarus, Ukraine, etc.


  15. “No reason for Europe to expose herself to that again.”

    Dan, I would agree, but would have to note that:

    1. Europe already has a large and very young Muslim population.
    2. European Muslims are at the very centre of the Islamist threat, in that they are creating (or trying to create) a new, universal Islam / Muslim identity in which Islam is extracted from its host culture (and so reduced to mere religion, i.e. secularised, generally in the name of fundamentalism), and that that is the mode of Islam most likely to exhibit fundamentalism (as noted) and exists in the conditions most likely to give rise to extremism (see Marc Sageman for more).

    So, unfortunately or not, I think that the boat has rather sailed and Europe is already exposed up to her eyeballs. But perhaps this might not be a bad thing over all, if secularisation of “European Islam” is indeed the result

  16. vimothy,

    I think we may be agreeing.

    Europe already has too large of a Muslim population for it to obsorb without otherwise unacceptable levels of friction. Europe's goal should therefore be to limit further Muslim immigration, while integrating and secularizing those Muslims already there.

    Is this a good summary of both our positions?

  17. Yes, I think it is, except that I wonder how easy it will be in practice to limit Muslim immigration (for e.g. what exactly is it to be “Muslim” – is it an ethnic, religious, cultural, etc, identity?), whether we're not so far passed the critical limit that its irrelevant anway, and whether or not the space of political and religious freedom isn't invaluable to the Muslim world, because although it allows fundamentalism, and secular or even nominally religious Mid East dictators do not, this fundamentalism represents a particular aspect of secularisation, and as such should be absorbed by the European polity, not repelled.

    Sorry, my thinking on this is probably not very coherent at the moment… 🙂

  18. Vimothy,

    Simply reducing the number of work and immigration visas available to citizens of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, excepting Albania, solves most of the Muslim immigration problem without having to get to finer levels of detail.

    “whether or not the space of political and religious freedom isn't invaluable to the Muslim world, because although it allows fundamentalism, and secular or even nominally religious Mid East dictators do not, this fundamentalism represents a particular aspect of secularisation, and as such should be absorbed by the European polity, not repelled.”

    This, I think, is the basis of our disagreement. The Arab/Muslim world has been modernizing over the past 60 years, first through fascist regimes and now through Islamist revolutionary circles. The results so far has been catastrophic. Just because something is modern doesn't mean it's good, and not all modernization ends with liberalization, and not all modernization should be encouraged in the Islamic world nor imported into Europe.

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