Racialization and the Challenge of Muslim Integration in the European Union

Authored by: Valérie Amiraux

Routledge Handbook of Political Islam

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415484732
eBook ISBN: 9780203154144
Adobe ISBN: 9781136577239


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Since October 2010 a number of European political leaders have made strong public statements regarding the ‘crisis of multiculturalism’, asserting the latter’s failure in the European Union (EU). Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor from the conservative CDU party, launched the trend with a public declaration made on 16 October 2010, in which she expressed her conviction that the project of a multicultural Germany had failed. She attributed this failure to the lack of effort on the part of immigrants to integrate and, in particular, to learn German with sufficient fluency. On 4 February 2011, while delivering a speech on radicalization and terrorism at the Munich Security Conference, David Cameron criticized state multiculturalism and the ghettoization it produces, arguing that instead Britain needed to develop a stronger and more cohesive sense of national identity as a more effective strategy to combat home-grown terrorism and the attractiveness of extremism to Muslim youth. A few days later, on 10 February 2011, Nicolas Sarkozy, answering questions posed by a panel of French citizens on TV, contended that the failure of multiculturalism was primarily due to the fact that it privileged the identity of the immigrant over that of the host country. To illustrate his point he also referred to Muslims, citing, for example, how they pray ‘in an ostentatious way’ in the streets. The French President’s declaration, which must be situated within the context of the countdown to the next presidential election, in fact triggered the initiative of launching a governmental and potentially nationwide discussion about Islam in France.

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