Muslim Integration in France - Success of Failure?

Essay by nis_simCollege, Undergraduate January 2010

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IntroductionTo consider the relationship between Europe and Muslims is to suspend cultural subtleties, to discard regional nuance and to inaccurately refer to each party as though it were a monolithic, homogenous and eternally unchanging unit. Yet it is a relationship that requires consideration. This is so because the intersection of Islam and the West lies firmly in Europe, and the fate of the relationship between Islam and the West – whether peace is possible – depends on how European countries mediate that relationship. As one leading scholar has put forth, “the most important battle in the war for Muslim minds during the next decade will be fought not in Palestine or Iraq but in communities of believers on the outskirts of London, Paris, and other European cities, where Islam is already a growing part of the West.” It is with that statement in mind that we embark on a survey of various strategies, employed by European states, of integrating and assimilating their Muslim populations.

In particular, this essay focuses on successes, failures and lessons of France. In doing so, it becomes apparent that where countries have pursued a non-assimilationist programme with their Muslim populations – that is, where Muslims are not compelled by the force of the law to adopt their host’s traditions – the hosts have typically been rewarded with loyalty and peace. Conversely, where countries have pursued an agenda of forced integration, the results are usually rejection, disenchantment and isolation. The contention of this essay therefore is that European policy toward their Muslim populations is often paradoxical and counterintuitive. The more loyalty is enforced, the less it prevails. But it would be premature to finish the argument at that juncture. This essay seeks also to assess the costs – or more precisely, the moral expenditure – of Muslim...