The base line in Europe for what politicians say and do about immigration and the role of Islamic communities in their countries is movingwrites John Vinocur in the International Herald Tribune.
It is shifting in a way that mainstream politics now permits its leaders to say flatly that immigrants, Muslims in large part, must accommodate the rules and traditions of the societies they enter, rather than vice versa.
In recent weeks, there have been paroxysms of controversy in Germany over a critical book on the place of immigrants there, which found substantial public support. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has been accused of targeting immigrants for quick political gain. In both cases, a new discussion space has opened where the compatibility — or ability to integrate — of large Muslim and other populations with national laws and culture is coming under challenge.
It is a European event, in France’s case overlapping the country’s treatment of foreign Roma, or Gypsies, who have overstayed the three-month welcome automatically accorded citizens of Bulgaria and Romania as members of the European Union.
Good, you could say, in the sense that the issue confronts an often muzzled truth about European life and a matter of genuine public concern. Unsettling, you could insist, because it has erupted at a time of limited European economic perspectives, national leaders with weak public support, and, mostly from the left, reflex rebuttals using words like Nazism or racism to condemn what is, in many respects, a new frankness.… The European Union … has relatively little to offer when it comes to clarity on immigration issues, having no common quotas, a minimum of specific regulations, and rules that encourage free movement across borders. The Union appears not to have advanced on the question since late 2004, when the filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered in Amsterdam by a Muslim extremist; the Dutch government, chairing an E.U. summit meeting in Brussels, considered it inopportune to bring the issue of Muslim integration before its partners.
I don't know whether the figures and the conclusions in the video above
(shookhran to Mark) are true, but anyway, it is well worth seeing…