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The Crises of Social Integration: the state or the immigrant''s responsibility? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Bruce Power is an author who plans to publish a book about the European crisis in dealing with European Muslims and is it greatly expected that his opinions will cause much controversy due to his support of the concept of the clash of civilizations. Power warns against the growth of fundamentalism amongst Muslim immigrants and their persistence upon an isolated way of life in a society not only to which they differ greatly, but also despise.

The same author had previously expressed his fears in an article published in the ”Christian Science” newspaper. He stated that the fires that had erupted in France were not an expression of anger because of the two young men who died after suffering electric shocks whilst being pursued by police in a district where many Muslim immigrants live. Power believes that the riots were more of a revolutionary stance against the intrusion of the police into an area that residents do not consider as subject to state power. Such a district, Power believes, is under the authority of immigrants, and this is a demonstration of the isolation of Muslims and furthermore, an introduction to an inevitable clash.

Power anticipates such a clash through a number of indicators such as France’s denial of any religious observations in official documents and the headscarf ban for Muslim girls in schools. He says, “The practice of isolation by the state is a daily encounter in France as much as it is the case in other European countries. Millions of French Muslims do not consider themselves French.”

He says, “Last March, a government report describing some trends of the education field was disclosed. The report mentioned that a number of Muslim students refuse to sing at school, to participate in physical education, drawing, and playing musical instruments, and that the number of these students is increasing. The report also mentioned that some of these students refuse to draw a right angle (as it is part of the shape of a cross), refuse to read books by Voltaire or Jean Jacques Rousseau as these authors are against the concept of religion, and reject reading Madame Bouvary, who is a defender of women’s freedom. In one school, the bathrooms are segregated, that is there is a bathroom to be used by the &#34Muslims&#34 and another for the &#34French&#34. In addition, another school had positively responded to a Muslim preacher’s request for segregation of Muslim and French students in changing rooms.

Power argues that many European Muslims wish to live the luxurious life of the West, but remain attached to their homelands. For instance in Oslo where I live, there are more direct flights on a weekly basis to Istanbul than to the United States.

We cannot deny the fact that fundamentalism is one of the main causes behind the emerging crises between the Muslim minorities and the indigenous people of a country. We must also add that there are two aspects to this dilemma, namely incorporation and integration. As much as immigrants are to blame for their persistence upon considering themselves Moroccans or Pakistanis rather than French or Danish, the political system in its entirety is also to blame for not welcoming the immigrants who were granted nationality of that country.

This same problem is less common in the United States, because the American system is more comprising since the whole of society is of a migrant nature. The system of education, employment, law and solidarity insurance in the United States is supportive of minorities and facilitates the youth of ethnic minorities in gaining places in difficult faculties of universities such as medicine or law regardless of the student”s ability.

This is quite uncommon in Europe. As much as we recognize the existence of the new antagonistic Islamic culture that has infiltrated into Pakistani, Bengali and African Muslim communities, we must distinguish as a violent isolation. Jews and orthodox Christians are also distinct in their ways of eating, their dress codes and the schools that they attend and such a distinction remains their right just as it is the right of immigrant Muslims.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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