Muslim Integration: America Must Avoid Europe’s Mistakes

Posted: February 2, 2012 in Free Rad!cals
Tags: , , , , , ,

Another short blogpost for Free Rad!cals, this time on a topic that has been bugging me for a while. It seems as though the US is making a few unfortunate choices in counter-radicalisation terms that emulate earlier mistakes Europe made, something particularly silly given how much attention they have lavished on studying and criticising Europe’s mistakes. This was already up, but I see now that guru Brian Michael Jenkins has written an excellent piece for Foreign Affairs attacking another mistaken American policy choice. Of course, not everything the US has done is negative in this regard, but there are a few silly mistakes that seem to be being made.

Muslim Integration: America Must Avoid Europe’s Mistakes

Filed under: Europe, Homegrown extremism, UK

Americans love to berate Europe and its failings. Youthful America looks to its European progenitor and sees post-colonial stagnation and sclerotic economies that are unwilling to face up to their problems. A bugbear of the past few years has been criticism of Europe’s approach to its resident Muslim population. Commentaries have focused on a problem that is seen by many as an incubator of anger that has expressed itself in the form of attacks by European, or European-based, terrorists against America – most notably on September 11, 2001.

But while Europe has in the past provided a depressingly productive Petri dish for Muslim rage with contradictory policies that have had an alienating effect on parts of the broader community, it is increasingly the case that America is simply following Europe in the same direction. Recent stories of New York’s police department using inflammatory videos about Islamist extremism in training come in the wake of stories of possibly CIA assisted intelligence operations against Muslim communities. Whatever the tactical utility of such operations, it is clear that from a hearts-and-minds perspective they can be seen to be a failure.

More absurdly, states have tried to pass laws preventing shariah law from being imposed on them – a highly unlikely outcome, but reflective of the high levels of paranoia and anti-Muslim feeling amongst the American public. Something also seen in stories of Muslim leaders being disembarked from domestic flights with little reason given, in some cases as they were on their way to conferences about “Islamophobia”.

At a political level the conversation has been just as poisonous as in Europe. Potential Republican candidate Newt Gingrich has spoken of “the mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it” posed by shariah. In Congress, Representative Peter King has held hearings accusing America’s Muslim community of failing to regulate itself and producing homegrown terrorists. And while a direct correlation with this polarizing narrative is of course impossible to draw, there has been an increase in young Americans drawn by the lure of jihad abroad or into becoming involved in what they believe are terror plots within the US in the past few years.

Europe has hardly covered itself in glory in integrating its Muslim communities. But neither has America, and the current approach is increasingly emulating many of Europe’s failed policies. It is all very good to shout about Europe’s failings, but the United States needs to increasingly look within before it allows its problems to get too out of hand.

America has a long tradition of being a national melting pot, able to absorb people of all cultures and creeds and accepting of diversity as a crucial element of its identity. For years, the belief was that America would be immune to the sort of problems that Europe faced with homegrown extremism. As time has shown, however, this is clearly not the case with numerous young men drawn to the flame of extremism. The United States should focus on learning positive lessons from Europe’s problematic experience and avoid emulating its failed policies.

  1. Gustavo says:

    that Britain sholud pursue a more independent policy from America, but an even larger percentage (68%) said that the current Labour Government was not doing enough to fight Islamic terrorism.As for Muslims, I too am friendly with a number of decent ones, and this site links to several Muslim sites that are well worth a visit.The problem is only incidentally Islam as a religion, and more the problem of Islam as a political entity.Since we have allowed the Saudis to pretty much purchase and control most of the mosques and madrassahs here in America (and elsewhere, it is the political, jihadi Islam that is being preached and ingrained in the younger generation…which is why Europe and the US, Australia and Canada are seeing increased terrorist activity from younger, native born Muslims.That’s a problem we’re going to have to face here eventually, just as Europe will.Regards,ff

  2. Gerti says:

    so onpely. The moderates of Islam are much worse, as they beguile the West, while all the while the demographic threat grows. However the written texts in the Koran remain and are always binding, and moderate Muslims are well awre of that. It is clear that some Muslims have begun to realise that videod beheadings, the rape and murder of school children, all in the publicly acclaimed name of allah, are threatening the Islamic goal in the world. And hence the public appearance of moderate Muslims. We should bear in mind that the goal of Islamic hegemony remains. Only the method may change depending on circumstances.

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