Daily Events

Islam – Can it ever be ‘assimilated’?

Islam – Can it ever be 'assimilated'?

Recently, President Obama said that European countries needed to better assimilate Muslim immigrants, communities and minorities, and Secretary of State Kerry said the “lack of integration” of Muslims in Europe was like the American civil rights struggles of the 1960s.

The truth is that European countries have been dealing with this issue far longer than we have, and are now paying for their naiveté – especially during the 60’s. Having lived in London then, I wrote: “….England [was] overwhelmed by immigration from India and Pakistan, especially in the ’60s. Despite acrimonious debate, the policies persisted, forever changing the demographics of mother England. [T]his debate was raging between Liberals and Conservatives in the 1960s — and these points were made over and over again to the British public. …They still don’t understand that these “new” immigrants hate them, have always hated them and will always hate them.” 

In fact, it’s never been a matter of “assimilation” or “integration” – either in Europe or the United States – rather, it’s been more a matter of resistance to it and the persistence with anachronistic religious dogma, some radical versions of which serve as the inspiration and motivation for the mindless radicalism and violence we recently witnessed in Paris.

This is nothing new. In 1899 [The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan (1899)] Winston Churchill, who could have just as easily been writing an editorial for The Times today, wrote: “The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. ….[T]he influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.”

Over a hundred years later, it would appear that little, if anything, has changed. We still have brutal “honor killings” of women – even in the United States – and young girls are murdered, raped and enslaved (in the name of religious law) throughout the more “modern” Muslim world. And, as witnessed by the latest series of unspeakable atrocities carried out by the ISIL/ISIS, Churchill was absolutely correct when he wrote, “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world”.

Muslim immigration to the Western world has not had much to do with the West as a “land of opportunity” or a place where one has personal and individual freedoms unfettered by politics or government. Rather, it too frequently represents a threat to these grand traditions, this because there is often no intention to “assimilate”, e.g., wives and daughters still are regarded as “property”.

In fact, one could ask if there is any similarity between “modern” Muslim immigration and  – just for example – the assimilation of waves of Europeans who came here in the 19th and 20th centuries? How about later immigrations from Asia and Mexico?

And, in spite of Secretary Kerry’s comments, we are light years ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to the integration and assimilation of our myriad and varied categories immigrants. Those who disagree need to spend some extended time in most any other part of the world. I have – more than a dozen years – and there is simply no comparison to the scale and degree of our integrated society anywhere else.

To what extent should/could we impose our modern collective societal wisdoms and experiences on new immigrants to our shores? Could we, for example:

  • Prevent the immigration of those who regard their female family members as “property”?
  • How could such a requirement be implemented in a way consistent with our form of government?
  • Could such a covenant be part of the oath that every new citizen must take?
  • Could we require such an affirmation from a longer-term visitor, student or a resident alien?

These are legitimate questions for our legal scholars – and could be a way we might exclude those whose beliefs – albeit in the name of a religion – are totally contrary to the core of our Constitution and legal system. For example, could it lead to similar kinds of laws as in France – that the wearing of burqas and nijabs are illegal? Last year, the European Court of Human Rights “…rejected a claim by a young Muslim woman that France’s ban on the wearing of burqas and niqabs in public violates her rights. The French law …went into effect in April 2011.

Like the French, who have the largest Muslim population in Europe – there are many Muslim rules and “laws” that simply can never be “assimilated” here. Just one of them is that women and girls belong to some man as his property. And like the French, we should find legal ways to make the public expression of that concept illegal and fundamentally inconsistent with living here.

In short, Muslim integration into Western cultures – especially ours – requires the abandonment of laws, rules and practices inconsistent with living in free societies. This is nothing radical or new – most other organized religions have done it for the past few hundred years, some far more than others.

 


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