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Distorted Ideas

Reader comment on item: Muslim Europe
in response to reader comment: distorted figures.

Submitted by Malachy (United States), Jun 23, 2007 at 10:56

Veronica, thank you for your reply to my comment. You are indeed correct in saying that the Muslim population in France is in excess of 6 milion, I would like to apologize for this factual inaccuracy in my comment. However, I still believe that my main point stands. Last years rioting in French suburban housing estates was a result of disaffection brought about high levels of unemployment, which among youths in these neighbourhoods can reach up to 40%, and discrimination and had little if anything to do with religion.

As I mentioned in my previous comment, while a portion of the young rioters were undoubtedly of North African Muslim descent, an equal portion would have been of Portugese, Eastern European, Sub-Saharan African and French extraction (France is after all a very multicultural society). What motivated these riots more than anything was the precarious economic situation which France found itself in at the time and in which it still finds itself now.

I was in France when the riots first began and can testify that most French people found completely risable the notion being put forth by foreign media outlets such as CNN and Fox News that France was somehow in the grips of an Islamic revolution. This is not to deny that in France, as in many other European countries, the question of Islam and its compatibility with Western European society is important, for it obviously is. Muslims represent the single largest immigrant group in Western Europe, with in excess of 20 million living throughout the EU, and with numbers rapidly increasing every year.

Opinions diverge as to whether Muslims can peacably live in Europe and effectively integrate its society. Numerous examples, such as the question of headscarves or halal meat, are cited as evidence of some inevitable clash of civilizations, as evidence of the inherent incompatibility of Islam with western values of secularism and democracy. Indeed Veronica, this seems to be the point of view to which you subscribe by describing Islam as a cult and portraying the relationship of other religions with it as a constant struggle against violent oppression. However, in my opinion, this view is wholly inaccurate.

While there exists a small minority of violent extremists, the majority of Muslims in Europe, as throughout the rest of the globe, are moderate and peacable individuals. This statement is equally true of the worlds two other main religions, Christianity and Judaism, which both have their own extremist/lunatic fringe. European Muslims have for the most part demonstrated the will and ability, often in the face of discrimination and adversity, to integrate European society and adopt its mores and norms.

You admonished me to learn from history and argued that since World War 2 muslims have been persecuting Christians and overthrowing Christian countries. Where? As far as I'm aware Nigeria is still split into distinct Christian and Muslim regions and neither section has over taken the other. Darfur is certainly an example of Muslim oppression of Christians, however this is one example in contrast to the many that can be cited of Christian oppression of Muslims, e.g. Serbian massacres of Bosnians and Kosovars, or Russian massacres of Chechens. My point here is not to enter into a tit for tat argument of who has oppressed more than the other, but simply to demonstrate that violence exists on all sides and the blame for this cannot be attributed to one single group. Furthermore I cannot think of one single example of a previously Christian country being over run Muslims. Could you perhaps cite some evidence for these claims?

You accuse me of burying my head in the sand, on the contrary I am fully aware of the rise of racist ideas and propaganda and strive to guard aganst them. As a European, over the past century my freedoms were also fought for and payed for in blood which is why I most sincerely believe that we should do our upmost to guard against those who would once again oppress or ascribe a status of inferiority to a people based purely on their religion.


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