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Muslim Immigration, European Security, And The Rise Of Xenophobia In The Eu

1436 words - 6 pages

The questions surrounding Islam, with regards to both international security as well as its rise and presence in global society, prove to be some of the most difficult in our world today. Arguably, the debate is even more controversial in Europe, where a variant of Samuel P. Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" thesis may be manifesting itself within the realms of European sociopolitical consciousness. As it nears completion of a Constitution which will bind together all the citizens of the Continent and unite them under a common declaration of "equality, solidarity, democracy [...and] respect[..for] the diversity of the cultures of the peoples of Europe," the EU faces a number of critical dilemmas involving its relationship with Islam. The three most pressing seem to be the rise of xenophobic political movements, the threat of terrorist cells, and, perhaps most importantly, the lack of dialogue between Europe's growing Muslim population and the EU body politic. Indeed, there is a significant proportion of Europe's Muslim population, last assessed to number upwards of ten million, which feels alienated from their adopted countries, irrelative of the fact that many are naturalized EU citizens. Their isolation is further enhanced by the recent proliferation of right-wing Nationalist movements which frequently adopt racist undertones, towing an "anti-immigrant" line. As Thomas Friedman has noted in his documentary "Searching for the Roots of 9/11", these sentiments of estrangement eventually push some towards religious fanaticism, the consequences of which can sometimes prove deadly. It is within this context that Europe must approach the following questions: How can we ensure the rights and the protection of all our citizens and residents without alienating or discriminating against a significant minority? And how do we strengthen our bond as Europeans, when the extremes of xenophobia and terrorism threaten to destroy any sense of mutual understanding or collective human rights?

Before delving into such discussions, one must first address the fundamental crisis that underscores all of these ideas: the issue of European identity. In a time of great sociopolitical transformation, European citizens' perceptions of themselves provide some useful insights into the larger issues at hand. Indeed, as a result of the integration movement, many European citizens are suspended in limbo with regards to how they are meant to identify themselves culturally, politically, and socially - are they Europeans? Frenchmen? Parisians? To what body are they meant to direct their allegiance? This is a major social Achilles heel - for when citizens do not have a stable framework to place themselves within, they tend to fall back on very localized historical and traditional belief systems and cultural characteristics, i.e. a quasi-nationalism.

It is into this dangerous mix of brewing social uncertainty, growing nationalistic impulses, and a fear of "other-ness" that...

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