Compare and contrast the following discussed patterns of Muslim-European interaction: assimilation, communitarianism, or newer modes or integration.
As we have learned throughout the semester, relations between Muslims and European nations have become intense and there are major misunderstandings on both ends. Different European countries have leaned towards various modes of dealing with the issues that have arisen in regards to this tense relationship. France is the country that is most well known for going the assimilation route, however other countries such as Germany have embraced assimilation in many ways as well. According to the Hunter, assimilationists believe that Muslims should accept the culture and political policies that their current country of residence holds. They must remain secular in public life, but can still practice their religion in private settings.
Another pattern of interaction we have seen between Muslims and European nations is called communitarianism. Individuals who believe in this mode of interaction prefer that Muslims form communities of their own and that these communities participate in dialogue with the larger society. Many Muslims prefer to stay within their own communities, practicing strict Islamic rules that could not be followed in a more secular state otherwise.
There are tons of buzzwords that have various meanings and that many people strongly agree or disagree with, so much so that the conversation begins to focus more on the words than the policies behind them. In my opinion, integration is the buzzword that I choose to associate with. Integration seems closely related to multiculturalism, which I will discuss in the next part of this post. Both of these terms celebrate other cultures without making them completely abandon their culture or religion. However, integration, from my understanding, requires slight modification of both cultures. This means there has to be a true understanding between two distinct cultures that are trying to merge. The issue is that there cannot be antagonistic feelings between the cultures, otherwise there will be no desire on either side to integrate. Respect is the only true way to integrate a society. In terms of Muslim-European relations, Europe needs to respect traditions associated with religion and Muslims entering European nations need to respect values that are embedded into that society and try and embrace them. If respect can be given and accepted, I think integration can be successfully achieved.
What is the diversity myth discussed by Malik? How does assimilation differ from multiculturalism? Give examples. What solutions does Malik propose to overcome the failure of multiculturalism?
The diversity myth that Malik refers to is based on the idea that European nations have a hard time embracing peoples of different nationalities. While the numbers of different nationalities make it seem like nations like the UK and Germany are diverse, in reality these communities are very separate from one another. True diversity represents inclusion of all persons either under the law or in social settings. Many seemed to believe that multicultural policies were created so that minorities would be recognized, but in truth they were created to stop the racism and discrimination against these groups and recognizing them under the law was the best way to go about this.
Multiculturalism is a term used to describe a society that is particularly diverse as a result of immigration and has policies necessary to manage such a society. Proponents of multiculturalism say that the problem has never been related to an influx in diversity, it is the racism associated with such societies that is the problem. Critics of multiculturalism see excessive immigration without demanding integration as an issue. Many believe that this has eroded social cohesion, undermined national identities and degraded public trust. Prior to World War II, immigrants represented mostly individuals that moved from one European nation to another, so it was easier to seamlessly fit into that society. Now, there seems to be a cultural clash, for instance between France and North African Muslim communities. People seem to be more concerned with defining the community they belong in than determining the society they want to live in and the environment they want to create in regards to immigration. This “othering” has created lesions in society.
Multiculturalism then is different from assimilation because instead of “embracing” differences, assimilation forces individuals to conform to the new society that they have chosen to become apart of. In France, the government wants all citizens to see themselves as French before any other identity. They see this as quite opposite from multiculturalism, which to them doesn’t promote a national identity. However, we have seen in France that they are just as divided, if not more, than any other European society. France, instead, lives false guise of assimilation, but they have failed to actually make their citizens feel welcome, even second generation French immigrants feel “othered.” They have largely ignored the discrimination and racism that many of their citizens face on a daily basis.
Malik proposes several solutions because it is clear that both multiculturalism and assimilation have both produced fractured societies. First, Europe should separate diversity, which is the actual lived experience of immigrants, from multiculturalism, which is a political process. Next, Europe should not be colorblind. This is referring to France’s policy of assimilation which essentially ignores discrimination and says that everyone is equal when this is not the lived reality for many people. Lastly, Europe should differentiate between people and values. This basically means that they should work to promote common values of a modern democracy without taking away an individual’s right to their own cultural and ideological beliefs.