Since February 2009 , this blog and Huib's 3 other Euroblogs are together at:

- In Europa Zu Hause [DE]
- L'Europe Chez Soi [FR]
- At Home in Europe [EN]
- In Europa Thuis [NL]

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Muslims At Home in Europe. Soros Says So. It was always my idea, too.

I do not claim exclusivity for the name "At Home in Europe". In 1993, some time before George Soros engaged into bringing democracy and moral integrity into Central and Eastern Europe, I embraced, together with my colleagues and friends from France, Germany and Great-Britain, in the small create!europe network, that challenging slogan. We were all working at urban neighbourhood emancipation through local integrated projects. Most of us, including me, still are.
George Soros became famous, when he speculated successfully against the British Pound (£) in 1992, forcing it out of the European currency "slang". Much of the money he got out of this disastrous (for Europe) move, was invested, later on, into a series of private initiatives for democracy and civil society in countries like Bosnia, Hungary, Serbia and the Ukraine. Showing, how you can throw bad money to good causes.
The New York based George Soros institute OSI (Open Society Institute) issues a report about Muslims in Europe, focussing on 11 European cities. It is produced by the OSI At Home in Europe Project , and covers:
the experiences of Muslim communities in select neighborhoods in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Antwerp, Berlin and Hamburg, Copenhagen, Leicester and Waltham Forest–London, Marseille and Paris, and Stockholm.
This report is as much about "being At home in Europe" for ALL its inhabitants, as we imagined it then. Going aganst the popular US and European Muslim-bashing trend, it delves into the kitchen table realities in some neighbourhoods, and depicts a completely different image of daily life, challenges and results than that which the scaremongers to make us believe.
The house is as the people who inhabit it. There is no mythical everlasting cultural "Heimat", defined by the soil upon which it stands.
In order to be at home in Europe, Muslim immigrants, each in function of his/her background (for coming from Morocco or from Turkey, from the province or from the city, makes quite a difference), creates his own form of integration, which is a new, mixed way of life. Like immigrants in the US did successfully in the nineteenth and twentieth century.
Does that mean, that there are no problems? That is another myth about us, "Gutmenschen", i.e., people who try to attack in fact the facts of ethnic cohabitation. Of course, there are huge problems, for the immigrants themselves as well as for the original inhabitants of the area.
The report shows, that, with good will from both sides and much help from the local authority, those problems can be solved, and, astonishingly, even turned into advantages!
How this last, seemingly improbable, magic trick can be made in the course of time, is explained (among others) in my professional website E-Urban, about urban area-oriented policies in Europe.
This is a summary of the report's contents:

Muslims in Europe: A Report on 11 EU Cities

Date: December 2009, Source: OSI

The Open Society Institute Muslims in Europe report series constitutes the comparative analysis of data from 11 cities in seven European countries. It points out common trends and offers recommendations at the local, national, and international levels, including to the European Union and to international organizations. While not representative of the situation of all Muslims in these cities, this report does capture a snapshot of the experiences of Muslim communities in select neighborhoods in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Antwerp, Berlin and Hamburg, Copenhagen, Leicester and Waltham Forest–London, Marseille and Paris, and Stockholm.

This body of work comes in response to major trends with regards to Muslims living in Europe: whether citizens or migrants, native born or newly-arrived, Muslims are a growing and varied population that presents Europe with one of its greatest challenges, namely how to ensure equal rights and opportunities for all in a climate of rapidly expanding diversity.

The following overview report includes:

  • Executive Summary
  • Policy Context
  • Cohesion, Belonging, Discrimination and Interactions
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Neighborhood and Housing
  • Health Care
  • Policing and Security
  • Civic and Political Participation
  • Media
  • Recommendations

The publication is available for download below, in its entirety or by chapter.

(For downloading, go to the OSI At Home in Europe Project).

From the conclusions of the report:

“The OSI research suggests that religious discrimination against Muslims remains a critical barrier to full and equal participation in society.The findings of this report are consistent with other research and suggest that levels of religious discrimination directed towards Muslims are widespread and have increased in the past five years. 

European-born Muslims, particularly women, were more likely to perceive higher levels of religious discrimination than Muslims born abroad. European-born Muslim men identify the police as a key source of unfair treatment and discrimination. For Muslims, the persistence of discrimination and prejudice affects their sense of national belonging."
(Hat tip to Dagmar and Mario, Germany).

There report is based on more than 2.000 interviews of inhabitants of the eleven European cities.
"Too many Europeans believe, that the religious identity would somehow hinder the  integration [of Muslims], allthough a majority of the Muslims who have been interviewed, identify to a high degree with the city and with the country in which they live. The role of the City is essential, as well in the struggle against discrimination, as well as in the opening of roads to the integration of foreigners",
said Nazia Hussain (London), who managed the project "At Home in Europe".

A useful antidote against the "Atlas der Wut" (Map of Rage) that Mr. Ulfkotte distilled recently from another US source...

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Minaret Moment 8/12 [EN]

I know, how difficult it is, to reply to self-conscious US opinionmakers when Europe is at stake.
Yesterday, the liberal New York Times published an opinion, called Europe's Minaret Moment, by somebody called Ross Douthat. He has read Christopher Caldwell, and thinks that he knows Europe. Comparing the genesis of the US to Europe's birth, he observes, that "a more perfect union" is far away from the manipulation by European "Ă©lites" to get a clean and workable constitution for the European Union. He couldn't be more right, when he chastises the European elites' disinterest in the difficulties that non-elite Europeans suffer at the actual economic season.

If the more perfect union promised by the Lisbon Treaty is the European elite’s greatest triumph, the failure to successfully integrate millions of Muslim immigrants represents its greatest failure. And the two are intertwined: they’re both the fruits of the high-handed, often undemocratic approach to politics that Europe’s leaders have cultivated in their quest for unity.
Oh, how much you are right, Mister Right! I am sure, not any member of the European elite has seen the problems coming. Nor any member of the non-elite. We choose to treat the problem NOT as you treated the Indians, relegating them to reserves and poisoning them with alcohol and diseases. We choose to help them integrate into our societies. Most of the Muslims did. A tiny minority doesn't. Like some Muslims in the USA, if I am well informed. Your easy condemnation of an Europe that is just defining itself, doesn't help at all.
Sometimes I think that people like you and Mark Steyn (America Alone) are just loading upon Europe, what you feel to be missing in the US. Historically, your propositions are completely erroneous.

On what it takes, to get a more perfect union
For: Pardon me, Mr. Bouthat, how many years were spoiled, before John Adams was able to convince Americans, that a "more perfect union" were attainable, only if Americans accepted to live together with "foreigners"?
Bouthat attacks an European elite, who imposed a peaceful Europe upon a population who would love to get rid of an immigant group, (Muslims), who seem to want independence and, finally, domination.
I am not convinced at all. I believe, that muslim immigrants in Europe will become "European", while safeguarding their own specificities. That is difficult for the people who have to live next to them, and I agree, that much more has to be done for those last mentioned. The European elites are aware of that. Much money and energy is invested.

European elites are not as stupid as you think...
Is it enough? Is it efficient? No! But it is much more, than American "elites" did for Polish, Italian and Greek immigrants a century ago. Nevertheless, those populations integrated fully into the US society. Accidents on the road, like the Swiss Minaret ban, seem to block any solution to the European immigration problem. But European unity and peace are prevalent upon short term issues like the Swiss Minaret ban initiative. One, like me, may have a minority opinion on Muslim integration in Europe, without being a member of the "European elites". That is democracy, Mr. Bouthat!
More or less like the US solved their problem with the "unintegrated" blacks in the sixties, the European Union will go forward, tentatively, with its programs for integration. And it will succeed. In the end. Each racial clash has its solution.

Europe-bashing does not help
Bouthat's opinion joins a conservative trend that makes the European Union responsible for a sort of giving ib to terrorists. I see no reason for that. Switzerland is not a member of the EU. The OECD, of which the US is a member-state, will surely condemn an eventual Swiss minaret ban. The US are not only indebted to the Founding Fathers of 1787, but also to the winners of the Civil War of 1865. No slavery, no second-class citizens!
Anti-Islamic surges will take their toll. Roma and other minorities will suffer discrimination. But I guess that the people's commitment to liberty and equality, will take the upper hand, when it comes to decide about liberty and democracy. If political elites work to create the right conditions for that, they are doing what should be expected from them.

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