the nation on european multiculturalism

An article in The Nation reviewing recent books on islam and europe and ending in a long discussion of the french example.

These facts strongly suggest that converts to Islamic fundamentalism are made and not born. In most cases, Islamism is a conscious choice embraced by frustrated second-generation immigrants who feel they are growing up in an ethnic and cultural no man’s land. In French Hospitality (1984), Tahar Ben Jelloun, a Moroccan writer based in Paris, accurately describes them as “a generation doomed to cultural orphanhood and ontological fragility.” Thus, Islam and Islamism are two different things–a point that “clash of civilization” theorists like Samuel Huntington have failed to register.

The author thankfully does not attempt yet another grand evaluation of the situation but sticks to closely examining specific areas. No solution is proposed, but that is at this point, probably a good thing.

As regards france, i will certainly agree that their is hope in the persons of a good number of fully-integrated north africans. However, i must confess that of all those whom i have met, none had retained much of any religious ties to islam: they had integrated so well because they were good french atheists or agnostics. Nevertheless, they are good and prominent examples of what can and perhaps should be accomplished: from them we can learn (by asking) how they integrated and how they think others could be brought round. Or better we could ask them to help – but they are now so well integrated that they don’t want to have much to do with the racaille…

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