Today’s Washington Post described the increase in unrest over Muslim immigration in European countries like France, Germany, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, and Sweden. The strong anti-Muslim backlash is influencing elections and putting leaders in a precarious position.
Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued her toughest line yet on immigrants. For weeks, Merkel has condemned Thilo Sarrazin, a former Central Bank board member turned folk hero in Germany who penned a shock bestseller arguing that Turkish and Kurdish immigrants are genetically inferior.
But the book also ignited a debate in Germany over the unwillingness of many immigrants – particularly Muslims – to integrate. Merkel on Sunday appeared to side with immigration critics, saying at a party conference that Germany’s experiment to build a “multicultural” nation had “failed, absolutely failed.”
In Scandanavia and Holland, the following is seen:
The long liberal lands of Scandinavia and the Netherlands are also seeing a nationalist party renaissance. Last week, a conservative Dutch government came to power with the support of the anti-Islamic party of Geert Wilders, who is standing trial for inciting racial hatred against Muslims. In exchange for his support, Wilders extracted promises that the new government would take dramatic steps to curb immigration and follow the French in banning full-length Muslim veils.
In recent months, right-wing and nationalist parties have also consolidated or are now poised to expand their power in Denmark, Norway and Finland.
In Italy there is an uprising over a proposed Mosque in Milan. All over Europe, little distinction is made between the debate over Islam and the debate over immigration. Many of the Muslim immigrants are from Somalia, Turkey, Kurdistan, Iraq, and other places in the middle east. Muslims from Malaysia were not mentioned.
Attitudes such as the one below are not unfamiliar:
“It isn’t racist to want to preserve your culture,” said Leif Johansson, a 64-year-old carpenter. “I’m open to immigration, but these people come without a thought to integration, no interest in learning Swedish or being part of Swedish society.”
Sweden, a country that has long prided itself on multiculturalism, is now apparently back-pedaling. 1 in every 9 people in Sweden are Muslim.
Unlike in the United States, where Latinos dominate the immigration debate, European angst is increasingly focused on waves of Muslims – Turks, Iraqis, Somalis and others – who have become the hottest-button issue in recent elections. In Austria this month, the far-right Freedom Party made massive gains in regional elections after an anti-immigrant campaign that included a “Bye Bye Mosque” Internet game. It allowed players to target virtual minarets in elegant Vienna and pastoral Alpine villages with a single word, “stop.”
I am not so sure that people in the United States aren’t every bit as vociferous over Muslims. What saves Muslims in this country, somewhat, is they have to get here by air or water. They can’t drive or swim. There are no common or connecting borders to the home country. However, anti-Muslim sentiments seen very alive here, and on this blog.
Is it possible to discuss this phenomena without sounding like we are European or without going back to the Crusades? Is it possible to discuss the problems without going into what the Koran does and does not say? I don’t believe any of us here are experts on the Koran and I would rather not get in to what it says or doesn’t say. Reason? There is no one really on top of the Koran game who can dispute statements people make.
This thread is not a feel-good thread. Far from it. Are Europeans over-reacting? Do they sound like Americans sound about our illegal immigration? People seem to be worried/angry over the same thing: refusal to assimilate, not learning the language, living in ethnic communities, etc. What advice would you give them?
–How well do you know your European countries? Click the blue. Below is your cheat sheet.