Europe a province of Islam

by Chris Bertram on April 13, 2004

Every so often I read a prediction on the op-ed pages of certain newspapers or in the ravings of some blog or other that France or even the whole of Europe is destined to become a province of Islam due to a combination of low fertily among the natives, high fertility among immigrants and Muslim immigration. Randy McDonald does a sterling job of swatting away this silly idea via a sober assessment of the demographics . (Hat tip Scott Martens )

{ 34 comments }

1

digamma 04.13.04 at 3:46 pm

It’s got a lot of data on France, but I would have liked to see more about the Netherlands.

2

Ophelia Benson 04.13.04 at 4:16 pm

This is an interesting bit –

There are strong indications that, in fact, French Muslim women are not interested in assuming the traditionally submissive and subordinate roles of women in the Maghreb. Samira Bellil, for instance, has gained publicity for her writing against a misogynistic culture in the banlieues which uses gang rape as a way to control subordinate women, while Ni Putes, Ni Soumises has come from nowhere to become one of France’s more prominent NGOs. And, in the recent controversy over the French ban on hijabs, one interesting thing that many opponents of the ban passed over was the fact that 49% of French Muslim women supported the ban outright (to say nothing of large majorities of the students themselves). All this represents a fairly radical break with teh gender roles prescribed for women by traditionalists or by neo-traditionalists.

What I keep saying. What so often is simply ignored. Why, I keep wondering.

3

Randy McDonald 04.13.04 at 4:29 pm

My thanks for the link, Chris!

Digamma, I didn’t look into the situation in the Netherlands because I don’t have much in-depth about the Netherlands and Dutch history. The Netherlands, like France, is indeed approaching the one-tenth mark.

It is safe to say, I suppose, that assimilation so far has proceeded more slowly than in the French case. Par contre, you’ve got a massive clampdown on immigration and the introduction of new integration programs to encourage assimilation.

4

Randy McDonald 04.13.04 at 4:35 pm

Ophelia: I paid attention.

5

Russell Arben Fox 04.13.04 at 6:02 pm

Randy, thanks for putting together a tremendous post. Tons of good information in there, especially for someone like me who is attracted to issues of cultural maintenance and assimilation, but rarely has the data to make good sense of it all.

One thing I’d be interested to ask you is whether you wouldn’t at least admit that, whatever the indications of the data, the current cultural evolution in Europe truly does involve a larger scale (both literally and metaphorically) than any other we know of (or, at least, any other that didn’t involve simple outright conquest and forced assimilation or expulsion). All of the historical examples you turn to were more localized, and involved relatively smaller cultural “leaps” (in that they generally took place in the context of at least shared linguistic families, or shared participation in Christendom whatever the denominational differences involved) than what is presently taking place across Europe. Wouldn’t it be fair to say that at least some of the overreation seen thusfar in several Western European countries (the headscarf fiasco in France comes to mind) is the result of not simply racial or sexual paranoia, but a geniune worry and fascination with whether the specific accomplishment of Western secularism and pluralism is strong enough, in a civic sense, to handle such diversity? To recognize that is to recognize that maybe mucking around in “civilizational” language isn’t all just propping up xenophobia; maybe there is rethinking on the conceptual level (i.e., “What is Europe?,” as distasteful as many may find such questions) that needs to take in that area on inquiry as well.

Anyway, I put some additional thoughts down here: http://philosophenweg.blogspot.com/2004_04_01_philosophenweg_archive.html#108187436138777212 . Thanks again.

6

Carlos 04.13.04 at 6:47 pm

All of the historical examples you turn to were more localized, and involved relatively smaller cultural “leaps” (in that they generally took place in the context of at least shared linguistic families, or shared participation in Christendom whatever the denominational differences involved) than what is presently taking place across Europe.

I dunno, man. The Irish were viewed as more alien in Olde New England than poor Haitian boat people are today in the US. Unassimilable, as good as pagan — the Catholic / Protestant split was extremely sharp then; they used to burn Papists in effigy in Boston — speaking an incomprehensible dialect at best, breeding like rabbits, innately criminals and terrorists (the Fenian raids, the Draft Riots), et cetera. And this was an era when people thought that there were massive “racial” differences between the Irish and sound English stock.

And now, eh. Pat Buchanan whines ironically about one million Zulus.

And that was without an official program of assimilation. (I suppose one could argue that France’s culture of officialdom might make assimilation harder. Then again, using the Irish-US example as a comparison, France looks slightly ahead.)

7

Russell Arben Fox 04.13.04 at 6:57 pm

“The Irish were viewed as more alien in Olde New England than poor Haitian boat people are today in the US.”

I think that probably has more to do with changing sensitivities in the American psyche from the 19th century to today, but your point is taken. Still, do your really think the adjustment involved in discovering that Irish Catholicism could accommodate and be accommodated by a majority Protestant society was as great or greater than that which presently confronts Western Europe? I’m doubtful. (Though the struggle within Catholicism to trust in and commit to “Americanism” as it was dismissively called by the hierarchy admittedly stretched out over a couple of generations.)

8

Randy McDonald 04.13.04 at 7:33 pm

Hi, Russell!

I agree that objectively the gap between (say) French and Italian Catholics in the early 20th century, considered as discrete groups, is less than the gap between secular French and Algerian Muslims in the early 21st century.

Subjectively, though, the differences are less, in part because of acculturation of the potential/actual immigrants, in part because of a greater tolerance for diversity. If you’re a conservative law-abiding Muslim, I’m not sure that there are very many substantive differences from being a conservative law-abiding Catholic.

Do [I] really think the adjustment involved in discovering that Irish Catholicism could accommodate and be accommodated by a majority Protestant society was as great or greater than that which presently confronts Western Europe?

Yes. Consider that in France, it took more than a generation for the Catholic Church to accept the legitimacy of the Third Republic and democracy, and arguably much longer still for it to accept secularism. Throughout the Catholic world, you can find abundant examples of the Catholic hierarchy doing its best to try to block the development of modernity: secularism, individualism, freedom of conscience, social and religious pluralism, et cetera. Look at Ireland until a couple of decades ago. Not that Catholicism is by any means unique in this regard, of course.

It isn’t too much of a stretch, I think, to equate the situations of Catholics in the United States then and Muslims in the EU-25 now. Given what seems likely to be an indefinite halt on Muslim immigration and strong integrationist policies, the end result may not be as distinct.

9

Charles Copeland 04.13.04 at 7:44 pm

Randy, as something of a natural born doomster, I always find it interesting to read what the other side has to say — but my impression is that you may be overly optimistic. Demographics in France is a notorious political minefield — remember the treatment Michele Tribalat got some years ago when she had the audacity of proposing that a distinction be made between ‘Francais de souche’ and French of immigrant origin? When politics meets science, science tends to buckle under.

You cite a recent paper by INED’s director Francois Heran – but his somewhat Pollyanish approach has been questioned by other experts, such as Jacques Dupaquier (http://www.ac-versailles.fr/pedagogi/ses/themes/popactiv/dupaquier.html). The problem with French demography is not so much that ‘nobody knows’ how many (Muslim) immigrants are entering the country each year and how many are now there – it’s more that ‘nobody wants to know’.

Unfortunately, this politically motivated ignorance feeds the wildest extrapolations. At one extreme, the panic-mongers who are convinced that France will be an Islamic Republic by 2010, at the other those who close their eyes and ears to bad news and refuse to look reality in the face — or who try to kill the messenger.

As to the assimilibility of Muslims — that seems more driven by wishful thinking. It’s not impossible, but I’d say it will be confined to the top decile in terms of social status. Besides, the fundamentalists (Tariq Ramadan and his brother, et al.) seem to be gaining in power and influence in the Muslim community. Where ARE all those liberal nice-guy Muslims anyhow?

Do you familiarise yourself with what the other side says? Have you read Alexandre del Valle’s book ‘Le totalitarisme islamiste a l’assaut des democraties’? Check out this interview with AdV here at Afrique Nouvelle:

http://www.alexandredelvalle.com/publications.php?id_art=35

Well, at least those stats on Muslim women’s opposition to the hijab were good news…

10

Another Damned Medievalist 04.13.04 at 7:53 pm

Great post!
One thing I was wondering (and apoligies if I missed it) was whether the “better standard of living leads to fewer children” maxim had been figured in at all.

I buy the analogy to the Irish, but also would liken some of the hyperbole to the attitude in much of the Left Coast US and parts of the Southwest US towards the growing Latino (and especially Mexican/Mexican-American) population.

11

Russell Arben Fox 04.13.04 at 8:54 pm

Randy, your comment makes me even more convinced that what is at issue in how one interprets the data you supply (or which data points you find most persuasive; consider Charles’s comment) is how one understands the modernity of Western societal cultures generally. If I understand you correctly, you’re suggesting that the “tolerance of diversity” which (mostly) obtains in the EU today is at least partly a beneficial consequence of the long struggle to work out niches for conservative critics of modernity within a pluralistic society; that is, having endured and incorporated conservative Catholic resistance to secularism, for example, there’s no reason to assume Muslim resistance (to whatever extent it exists) wouldn’t be able to be channelled with little hostility down the same paths, with no real long-term consequences to the basic workings of assimilation. It’s just a matter of will and prudence, you might say. That would be true…if you’re correct that pluralism is a natural baseline which some resist (though, experience tells us, usually not for very long). But what if what the modernity which Europe has isn’t a default position, but rather a specific positive consequence of its historical negotiation with Catholicism, etc., itself? That is, what if the baseline is actually some “civilizational” (for lack of a better word) context of which Catholic resistance was merely a part? I know, I know; this is getting all Hegelian. But then, I guess that was part of my original point: at least some of those obsessing over Muslim immigration do so not because they think that somehow Muslim immigrants are bad for the “European soul,” but because they suspect that the assimilation of Islam into Europe, even if it’s a secularized, modernized Islam, can’t avoid resulting in a Europe meaning something else entirely. (Note: maybe something better. But different just the same, and not simply in the sense of there being even more cultural components in the whole.)

12

Carlos 04.13.04 at 9:06 pm

Still, do your really think the adjustment involved in discovering that Irish Catholicism could accommodate and be accommodated by a majority Protestant society was as great or greater than that which presently confronts Western Europe? I’m doubtful.

Yes, but I think in both cases it has been and will be slow going. There’ll be missteps and false starts and bad faith and the shrill ranting of bigots in both groups along the way, and I don’t doubt that French politicians of a certain type will play the Muslim card a hundred years from now.

After all, one can still see the bruises left by the analogous process in the US, and it’s been over 150 years.

13

drapeto 04.13.04 at 9:09 pm

they suspect that the assimilation of Islam into Europe, even if it’s a secularized, modernized Islam, can’t avoid resulting in a Europe meaning something else entirely.

oh yes.

oh fucking yes.

should have thought have that a couple of hundred years ago, homey.

we shed and still shed those very tears. get your own hankie.

14

Russell Arben Fox 04.13.04 at 9:48 pm

Drapeto:
1) Who’s “we”? Are you including yourself? Anyway, thanks, but I won’t need the hanky, as I’m not crying; just curious. (There is a difference.)
2) Forgive me for being reluctant to think that the dynamic of the encounter between Islam and Europe today can’t possibly be any different from that of any other previous culture clash, ever. I guess my Muslim students have just given me more respect for the integrity and power of Islam than that.

15

Randy McDonald 04.13.04 at 11:58 pm

I’ll address these points in detail later on my own blog. For the time being, a few points.

Mr. Copeland: I read the article, but I’m not sure that M. Dupaquier’s critique differs qualitatively that much from M. Héron’s. An undercount of the immigrant population between 3.1 and 10% is substantial, for instance, but even if this population was entirely Muslim it would only boost numbers up from 5 million to 5.5–important, to be sure, but not enough to alter dynamics.

I’m not sure what you mean by assimilation being more wishful than anything. As measured in terms of religious practice, language use, demographic behaviours, and practical politics, French Muslims are assimilating, by and large, to the norms of French culture. In what sense do you use assimilation?

Mr. Fox: I agree that the presence of largish Muslim majorities in the European Union (though only ~15M out of ~380M in the EU-15) will influence European cultures significantly. I referred to that in my post, first when I mentioned the development of a vehemently anti-Catholic United States into one of the largest Catholic nations, second when I referred to previous sociocultural shifts in French history (the assimilation of peasant cultures, the assimilation of previous waves of immigrants). French culture will change with the addition of another religious minority alongside the Protestants and the Jews. I just think that the evidence for broad, sweeping systemic change is lacking.

As for your reply #2 to drapeto, that zeal is entirely normal for the first generation of a newly-implanted religious minority confident in its ability to radically change the host culture. You saw that in Franco-Americans in New England, for instance, who set up school and religious networks and tried to promote the use of the French language. Québec Catholicism, after all, was very firmly implanted in French Canadian national life, representing an all-embracing conservative even repressive morality, and even now it’s prominent (if only by its absence). Why should Islam in Europe end up differently from Catholicism in North America?

16

Randy McDonald 04.14.04 at 1:45 am

I go into more detail on my perspectives on marginalzed and assimilating minorities in my Honours thesis on Canadian literature. Rough and polished segments of it are available here.

17

Keith 04.14.04 at 2:41 am

You mean, Pat Buchanan is somehow wrong? Fancy that…

18

john c. halasz 04.14.04 at 3:08 am

I’ve read at the Bonoboland site an estimate that in a generation up to 40% of the active work force in France, Spain and Italy will be of Muslim origin. So the issue is not just absolute population numbers, but the aging of the European demographic, and pointing to a similar trend taking hold amongst Muslim populations is irrelevant, insofar as the proper prospective factor in the coming years is the complementary demographic bulges. Now it would be a fair guess that the Muslim segment of the work force would be overwhelmingly working class, at least in the sense that they would be filling relatively low-paying slots in the non-tradeable services sector. How this would play out in socio-economic dynamics and their political articulation and what role religion would play in these, whether in a reactionary or “progressive” sense, are perhaps the more relevant questions.

A significant Muslim plurality in Europe would presumably play a role in the question of “modernizing” Islamic thinking. This is perhaps a more hopeful prospect than that promulgated by proponents of an unending “war on terror.” As for the effect on European identity itself, yes, surely the presence and “assimilation” of such a plurality would effect changes in the balance and terms of how such a European “identity” is construed, though the specific project of forming such an identity is, after all, of a relatively recent vintage. But one difference from the Catholic case should be noted: Islam does not have a singular centralized and overarching structure of religious authority. (This is one of the complaints of Osama bin Laden and his ilk.) Perhaps Europe would come to resemble Spain before the Muslims and the Jews were expelled. At any rate, an overriding anxiety about “identity” is perhaps not the best lesson to be learnt from European history, pace Prof. Fox’ concerns. There is some reason to prefer Vico to Hegel; his motive principle, “the law of the common sense of the gentes”, unlike Hegel’s “ruse of Reason”, does not necessarily redound to an overarching metaphysics of identity.

19

Joshua W. Burton 04.14.04 at 5:37 am

_One thing I was wondering (and apologies if I missed it) was whether the “better standard of living leads to fewer children” maxim had been figured in at all._

This maxim resembles the hopeful pronouncements of the heady early days of antibiotics, in that it ignores the possibility of resistant strains. A small ethnic subpopulation capable of sustaining fourth-world birthrates in a modern society, of bettering those rates with full-on invasive fertility care, and of passing these birthrates on as cultural norms to most of their children, can rise out of the statistical noise in just a few decades. The canonical example would be the ultra-Orthodox Jews of Israel, and especially of Jerusalem. Per-woman fertility in this community went from 6.5 to about 7.7 between 1980 and 1995, and is still rising, according to

http://www.worldsummit2002.org/download/ISRAELPopulation.pdf

corresponding to a doubling time of 11 years and falling. The 1948 starting cohort of a few thousand was demographically invisible, and inertia of perception actually led someone to post a wistful article here on CT a few days ago about Yiddish-that-was, even as Jerusalem’s new mayor speaks Yiddish-that-is to his twelve (so far!) children.

I haven’t looked closely at the fertility demographics of European Muslims, but if there is a high-fertility cohort with strong religious norms against assimilation, twentyfold growth of that cohort in half a century is a proven extreme possibility. Do that twice in one century, and the 40 million great-great-grandchildren of a mere 50,000 women add up to a French majority.

20

Randy McDonald 04.14.04 at 7:11 am

Mr. Burton:

The Hutterites and Amish of North America, I believe, also approximate the biological maximum of fertility.

You raise an important point. All I can say is that I’ve seen no sign of such a high-fertility cohort anywhere in the data, particularly since a tight-knit culture comparable to that of Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jews (or Hutterites, or Amish) would seem to be both a prerequisite and highly visible.

Too, in the absence of high-fertility cohorts in the past successfully taking over existing states by supplanting declining or static populations, too, I’m skeptical whether this scenario is even possible. Delays in acheiving demographic transitions certainly exist, and some populations bottom out sooner than others. Such a protracted delay, though, seems improbable, particularly in the context of assimilation. It can happen, given the case of Israel, but still.

21

Charles Copeland 04.14.04 at 10:57 am

Fascinating comment, Joshua.

In an essay entitled “Can Man Control His Numbers?” Charles Galton Darwin hypothesised some forty years ago that homo contracipiens might well become extinct, to be replaced by homo progenitivus. It would appear that Muslims are more like to belong to the latter than to the former category.

Here’s the relevant extract from ‘Can Man Control His Numbers?’:

“If I may be permitted so to put it, by the invention of contraception, the species Homo sapiens has discovered that he can become the new variety “Homo contracipiens,” and many take advantage of this to produce a much reduced fraction of the next generation. We have found out how to cheat Nature. However, it would seem likely that in the very long run Nature cannot be cheated, and it is easy to see the revenge it might take. Some people do have a wish for children before they are conceived, though for most of them it has not the strong compulsion of the two instincts. There will be a tendency for such people to have rather more children than the rest, and these children will tend to inherit a similar wish and so again to have larger families than do others. In succeeding generations there will be some who inherit the wish to an enhanced extent, and these will contribute a still greater proportion of the population. Thus, the direct wish for children is likely to become stronger in more and more of the race and in the end it could attain the quality of an instinct as strong as the other two. It may well be that it would take hundreds of generations for the progenitive instinct to develop in this way, but if it should do so, Nature would have taken its revenge, and the variety Homo contracipiens would become extinct and would be replaced by the variety Homo progenetivus.”

The full text of the essay is available online at:
http://www.trinity.edu/lespey/biol1307/lectures/lect18/lect18.html

22

bryan 04.14.04 at 11:30 am

This is one of the most earthshattering and important issues raised in modern science, given that the wish for children is definitely genetically inherited.

also I guy at my old construction job used to say that the white race in the U.S was down to 40%, he was one of the most profound thinkers of the ages given that this was true. or not if not I guess.

this is the point where our knowledge of pop culture should oblige me to point out that I see a funny doggy.

23

Charles Copeland 04.14.04 at 12:33 pm

NEWS FLASH FROM FRANCE

“ POPULATION Un document du ministère des Affaires sociales révèle que le nombre d’entrées légales a fait un bond de 36% entre 1999 et 2002”

Translation: “POPULATION – a document from the Ministry of Social Affairs reveals that the number of legal immigrants shot up by 36% between 1999 and 2002”

– Le Figaro, 14.4.2004

Randy et al,

You may have to eat some humble pie — as will the director of INED, Francois Héran. A report by demographer André Lebon – so explosive it was kept under lock and key until after the recent elections – reveals that legal immigration to France has risen by 36% over the past three years. Apparently, those ‘received ideas’ that Héran and you yourself mocked are not without foundation. You’ll find the article here in today’s Le Figaro:

http://www.lefigaro.fr/france/20040414.FIG0152.html

Also an interview with Maxime Tandonnet entitled ‘A massive and growing phenomenon’:

http://www.lefigaro.fr/france/20040414.FIG0153.html

However, at least your data on the gap between the immigrant birth rate and that of the ‘Francais de souche’ don’t seem completely off the mark – so thanks at least for that lowdown.

The thirteenth of the month was an unlucky day for you, though!

24

Joshua W. Burton 04.14.04 at 2:38 pm

_Too, in the absence of high-fertility cohorts in the past successfully taking over existing states by supplanting declining or static populations, too, I’m skeptical whether this scenario is even possible._

See Exodus 1. At the very least, this is a proof-text for the long lineage of demagoguery around the _fear_ of the resistant-strain scenario. As for its historicity, I heard an eyewitness account of the whole thing by word of mouth over dinner last week, from relatives I trust who had it from equally trustworthy relatives before them…

25

wtb 04.14.04 at 3:52 pm

Randy,

I was glad to see that you addressed this issue. I’ve been reading, ad nauseam, about the demographic disaster threatening Europe and have been waiting for another take on the issue. I’m mathematically challenged, so I can only sit idly by and act as an incompetent jury while the experts fight out it out. I haven’t made up my mind about it but I’m reading as much as I can.

I do, however, have one question: You posed the question “Why do people argue that Muslims will be taking over Europe?” What I would like to know is how — why is too broad to answer here — all those predictions of French Canadian demographic conquest of New England, the Mexican takeover of the Southwest et al. gain currency? I don’t mean their ideological appeal; rather, what mathematical/statistical errors do they share that make them so speciously convincing? Could you explain that to someone who couldn’t complete high school algebra?

26

Ray 04.14.04 at 4:19 pm

I think the common error is that they extrapolate something into the future, assuming it won’t change. Ethnic group A are newly arrived immigrants, forming a closely-knit community with a high birthrate? Then they will _always_ be closely-knit, will _never_ assimilate, and will _always_ have a high birthrate. And if we extrapolate that high birthrate far enough into the future, then we find that in X generations nearly everyone wil be called Jean-Claude. Or Paddy. Or Jose. Or Osama. Whoever the current, local bugbears are.
Its a special case of unwarranted generalisation (is there a name for this particular fallacy?), and in other instances its quite funny, at least in hindsight, the famous example being that quote about computers growing so much larger and more powerful that in fifty years there’d only be five in the whole world. Implicitly racist arguments about fast-breeding ethnic groups taking over aren’t so funny.

27

Randy McDonald 04.14.04 at 4:21 pm

wtb: Briefly put, they take current trends, project them indefinitely into the future without any change (without taking into account declines in immigration, or declining birth rates, or assimilation), and present them as a certain outcome. After all, the statistics do indicate that these majorities will develop … I suppose that it comes from a limited view of statistics, one that doesn’t take into account how the wider environment producing the statistics can change radically. It’s more 20th century, perhaps?

Mr. Burton: Agreed about the longevity of these fears, though interestingly enough I’ve recently reviewed a book on early Israel which suggests that perhaps certain subgroups aside (Moses’ posse?), Israelites can trace their origins to highland refugees from the collapse of Egypt’s post-Hyksos imperial satellite states in Palestine in the 14th and 13th centuries BCE. So, they’re native.

28

Randy McDonald 04.14.04 at 5:58 pm

Mr. Copeland: I submit to you that Muslims, in fact, do not seem to be homo progenitivus. If birth rates in Muslim countries considered as a group are higher than in Christian countries considered as a group, that’s because modernity has been introduced later. In those Muslim-majority countries where modernity is most advanced–Azerbaijan, Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania–fertility rates have dropped to or even below replacement levels. Perhaps there may be a distinction between homo contracipiens and homo progenitivus, but if latter group exists at all it’s more likely to be found in Africa than not.

My thanks for the information on illegal immigration into France, and alerting to me to what looks like the strong possibility of greater-than-described illegal immigration. This, however, does not detract from the core of my argument, namely that French Muslims are assimilating quite quickly to French cultural norms. You probably will get a hard core of conservative/neo-traditionalist Muslims, but I doubt–given the cited statistics–that it will include more than a fairly minority of those people nominally Muslim. How can a population increasingly monolingual Francophone, not prone to religious practice, increasingly hostile to traditional elements of gender and sexual behaviour, intermarrying with non-Muslims, become that?

29

Ikram 04.14.04 at 8:12 pm

An excellent post Randy, for which you are deservingly getting recognition. But let me quibble, or, more strongly, disagree, with an extrapolation of your post made in the comments bove: that there is such a thing as Muslim immigration to Europe.

In the UK, the Muslim pop is Pakistani, Bangladeshi, or African. These three communities generally do not intermarry. What does a boy in Bradford have in common with an illegal Albanian in Italy? What do either of them have in common with a third generation secualr non-citizen Turk in Germany? Isn’t it more sensible to compare Morrocan agricultural workers in Spain with Polish (or Ukranian) agricultural workers in Germany, not down-at-heel second generation beurs.

I liked you article on France, but I do not think there is any point in extrapoloating to the non-existant ‘European Muslim’. Outside the imaginings of Tariq Ramadan and a few fevered bigots, such a person does not exist.

30

Randy McDonald 04.14.04 at 8:42 pm

Hi, Ikram!

Your point works. I focused mainly on the situation of French Muslims since I’m most familiar with their history, and that of France. The points I made re: France, though, go still more for other European countries, of course. My thanks for bringing this vital element, of Muslims outside Europe, to everyone’s attention.

There seems to have been some success, in Europe, in creating a broader European Jewish identity. That success, though, seems related to the relatively homogeneous origins of modern European Jews in central and eastern Europe, with France standing out for its Sephardic population. A transnational Muslim diaspora in the EU-25–or even a transnational Arab-states’ diaspora–strikes me as much more of a reach, IMO.

31

razib 04.14.04 at 11:01 pm

ikram,

if we carry randy’s analogy with american catholics-italian, irish & polish marriages would have been considered “mixed” 2 generations ago. today, from what i gather, catholics of these three groups are far more likely to intermarry as white ethnics as their ethnicity has faded and their religious (somewhat nominal) devotion is all that remains. i do know personally of south asian american muslims who tend to marry across south asian ethnicity (punjabi + bengali), and american born & raised muslims who marry across race (syrian + indonesian), and so forth.

re: the point about ultra-orthodox haredis & co., their numbers would not have mushroomed in ben gurion had not started the precedent of subsidizing their peculiar lifestyle, and, from what i gather, defections from this group tend to bolster the number of secular & moderately religious jews.

32

Ikram 04.15.04 at 3:00 pm

i do know personally of south asian american muslims who tend to marry across south asian ethnicity (punjabi + bengali), and american born & raised muslims who marry across race (syrian + indonesian), and so forth.

Yes, I am aware of this as well. Though culturally frowned upon, mixed Muslim marriages are becoming more common, especially (or should I say mostly) among the devout.

But that speaks to a ‘Muslim’ identity within a particular country, not between countries. Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in the UK can think of themselves as British Asians or British Muslims, but their fellow-feeling with the Albanian in Italy will be no greater than their fellow feeling with an Iranian in Iran. A Muslim commonality, not a European Muslim commonality.

I could see a Euro-Muslim identity coming about, but only as a consequence of a more general Euro identity among all Europeans, coupled with a failure to effectively make Muslims in the UK, Germany, France etc into co-nationals. Unfortunatley, gvt policy in each of these countries does not rule out that possibility.

33

Randy McDonald 04.15.04 at 7:31 pm

I could see a Euro-Muslim identity coming about, but only as a consequence of a more general Euro identity among all Europeans, coupled with a failure to effectively make Muslims in the UK, Germany, France etc into co-nationals. Unfortunatley, gvt policy in each of these countries does not rule out that possibility.

I’m not sure about that. It strikes me as entirely possible you could create a European Muslim identity out of disparate groups as community organization develops. (I wonder: How did American Jewish identity develop?)

So far, though, the trends I highlighted in my article seem to suggest that a substantial majority of Muslims in these countries are seeing themselves as nationals, perhaps hyphenated ones but still. Even in a worst-case scenario, it would seem to be an outcome of a minority.

34

Ikram 04.15.04 at 9:07 pm

It strikes me as entirely possible you could create a European Muslim identity out of disparate groups as community organization develops

I think it depends to the existance of a European identity, and a common european experience. I’m not sure these things exist.

There is a rapidly emerging American identity, very different from third world Islam. In some ways (music/dancing) more conservative, in some ways (status of women) more liberal. But it arises out of a common American experience. TV, Schools, College, Jobs, etc.

I don’T think europe does not have a cohesive enough identity to allow for a real Euro-Muslim identity. But I’m not European, I could be wrong.

But if it is possible to have European Muslim identity, one could equally imagine a European-black identity, or a European-Jewish identity. Do such things really exist?

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