The Challenge Of Integrating Muslims Into Europe

Originally published on July 28, 2011 10:03 am
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And that there seems to be some resentment of that. I'd like to get your perspective on that analysis. Do you agree?

NABILA RAMDANI: For example, in France, the North African community has the highest rate of mixed race marriages, for example. But in terms of what European societies have to offer to Muslims, that's where the problem lies because Muslims are just as keen on the basics as other people. That is to say, they want secure homes, good schools, jobs and, you know, decent places for worship. And, yet, instead they are the first victims of discriminations because of their background and indeed their Islamic-sounding name.

MARTIN: Can you give an example of that, if you would?

RAMDANI: But the reality is that there is a lack of places for worship in France. So instead of the government dealing with that and making sure that all faiths, you know, have a place for worship, they turn the problem on its head and say Muslims are the problem. And that's what politicians, but also governments, across Europe have been quite clever at achieving - they created a concept of an enemy within. And that is Muslims - they pose Muslims, and indeed Islam, as a problem to Western societies.

MARTIN: Before I let you go, I wanted to ask each of you for a final thought about where you think this discussion goes in Europe. And Nabila, why don't you start?

RAMDANI: And this, in my opinion, is an unfortunate and direct consequence of the so-called war on terror. And I would contend that the public debate on terror attacks in general has very much been framed by the Bush administration's so-called war on terror. And that's very, very unfortunate.

MARTIN: John Bowen, how about you? Where do you think this conversation goes next?

JOHN BOWEN: So the focus really ought to shift on how we create better societies in each of these European countries where everybody not only has a chance to get ahead, but believes that he or she has a chance to get ahead. Those are the real problems and not these invented ones about either a fifth column of Muslims in Europe, or about failed multicultural policies of the past.

MARTIN: Eleanor, final thought from you? Where do you think this conversation is headed in Europe?

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: But I think there's going to be a general disgust. And I hope people are going to move forward with inclusive policies. And I hope it's going to be a good thing that comes out of this.

MARTIN: I thank you all so much for joining us.


BOWEN: Thanks, Michel.

RAMDANI: Thank you. Thank you, Michel, for having us. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.