Islam and Muslim in general have been the key concern in the European cultural debates over past decades especially when the countries withdrew immigration credentials. The debate has been intensively covered the region as Europe fight to mitigate the economic malaise. Around twenty million Muslims live with over five hundred million people from the European Union. France has the highest population of Muslim at eight percent followed by Netherlands and United Kingdom has the least population of three percent.
The assimilation problem has been part of the Muslim nightmare in Europe. It is so unfortunate that the collapse of economy tends to enhance intolerance and racism which is precisely what is going on in the Europe (Cesari, p.44). The European countries have been dragging behind Muslim integration which is about to be disclosed as more Europeans had seek refuge in populism and radicle parties.
The big issue on the forced assimilation for Muslim is behind the question of why the Muslim in Europe has not put more efforts in respecting and assimilating the cultural practices of their new countries. This indicates that there is conflict and clash of values which challenges the progress to enhance compromise between the rest of the European communities and Muslims.
Secularism, as it is comprehended and performed among European countries, is not considered as a value-neutral. It is like an emphasis to make the conservative Muslims to behave in a manner that they are not used to and they cannot do. The secularism scenario gives the right to all communities, including Muslim, to perform and practice their religious issues as they deem it fit. This develops an assumption that the religious practices is primarily personal, a private practice that is embodied to the public or political life. This is where the Islam and the European traditional values and culture of collide. The Muslim community finds themselves different from the other communities.
In fact, there is something unique and uncompromising about the Islam relatively different from the other religious. This judgment does not depend on the value perspective but on the descriptive perception and bout the modern Muslim where most of the Muslims are proud about this fact. Therefore, it could be derived that this compromise and willingness on the perception of secularizing pressure that influences Muslim to be both distinctive and vibrant (Cesari, p.65). Certainly, Islam has indicated a remarkable resistance in persistent attempt to assimilate them in a private domain.
One of the most conservative Muslim is scholar Ramadan Tariq, together with tens of thousands of his followers in a group recognized as Euro-Islam. He could be termed as the influencer of the problem. Ramadan came up with a standstill on the Hadd punishment where thieves where cut hands and people committing adultery were stoned to death. Inn France, the practice was criticized as it was seen to violate the cultural practices of the secular France. On a remarkable debate on the one of the main broadcasters in France, Nichole Sarkozy, who was then an interior minister, criticized the Ramadan proposal especially on stoning of women. That would be considered as extreme victimization of women as women and children are the most protected demographic group by cultural practices in Europe.
In some regions, such as Egypt, cutting off hands of a thief and stoning adulterers standpoint is likely to incite controversy and conflicts for opposite reasons. It could be regarded as too liberal. The Ramadan perspective in the Islam region, regarded to the values of mainstream Islamic view, is regarded as a serious progress. This is one reason why the version has not broadly spread in the Arab world. In the Pew poll conducted in Egypt on December 2010, 82% of the respondents were in favor of stoning of people committing adultery while 77% were in favor of punishing thieves by cutting off their hands.
The American view point of the sudden rise of Egypt’s Salafis, who are conservative Islamists and advocates a strict and uncompromising perspective of law of Islam, is indeed a challenge. It is not only undemocratic but also illiberal to try to get million members of the Salafis group from that group once they become members and enter in the public domain. This is what some of the Islamist liberal has been forcefully trying to demand. In similar view it is impossible to ask the European Muslims to be religious as they deem it fit but keep the religion out of the public domain. For most of the Muslims, such decision could illustrate an inconceivable and odd distinction.
However, the national deal in France and the beliefs of high population of French Muslim are conflict if not illogicality. It is clear that the French Muslims are more identical to their religion than the rest of the religions in French. A Gallup poll, conducted in 2009, indicated that fifty two percent for French Muslims exhibit strong or extremely strong identity to their religion, relative to twenty three percent of the other religions in France. In Britain, the scenario is more stickers with seventy five percent against twenty three percent (Israeli, p. 69). Other poll indicates that there were clash in cultural and religious values. It is remarkable that none of the Muslims in Britain are in favor of homosexuality as a morally acceptable practice in the society. Unavoidably, such a standpoint, emphasized by the religion, is not simply considered as an issue of private concern. This shows that Muslims has an impact on the public policy.
The situation does not have to be this way, but the conditions have forced to emphasis on the assimilation on Muslims to mitigate the effect brought about by the developing distinctions. The distinction could lead to economy distress and collapse of the euro zone. Therefore, the European countries have progressively take asylum in anti-Muslim incriminating. However, the discriminated Muslims can seek assistance on the rapid and firm established identity of Muslim. This could enhance more clashes on cultural and religious values.
The European Muslim environment clearly indicates that it is hard to say that they have decided to isolate themselves. The political parties and the entire right wing of the political forces the assimilation of the Muslims. The European legislature body has passed Taliban-style legislation. This legislation denies the freedom of choice to Muslims in disguise of recovering women from the oppression by the religious. Very few Muslims are willing to trade off their religious and cultural beliefs for comfort in their own country.
Although the modern Muslims had made effort in entering in academic and workplace, government had put restrictions that are unfavorable to the low income Muslim. They cannot easily secure employment being as the first phase of enhancing assimilation. The isolation of the Muslim community is illustrated by language skills due to discrimination in education and inadequate healthcare to children and young mothers. Like any other immigrants, Muslims have the right to exercise democracy in all ways. However, government and economic oppression are behind the threat of democratic in the European countries. Therefore, the legislation passed by the government should not have much difference with what the Islam are against so that the assimilation could be minimal.
Facing the challenges of Muslim assimilation in European countries, US government should emphasize on the cultural restrictions. It should focus on comprehensive integration of Muslim community into American social economic structure to provide better accommodation. In the same time, the United States should redefine the meaning of being an American. Instead blaming Muslims for the lack of assimilation, the subject countries should absolutely restructure the national identity of America (Cesari, p. 73).
Raphael Israeli. Muslim Minorities in Modern States: The Challenge of Assimilation. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2009
Jocelyne Cesari. When Islam And Democracy Meet: Muslims In Europe And In The United States. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006
Shireen Hunter. Islam, Europe’s Second Religion: The New Social, Cultural, and Political Landscape. Westport, CT [u.a.] Praeger 2002