I live near Dearborn, Michigan, which has the largest Muslim population in North America. Contrary to talking points espoused by right-wing media personalities, I, as a staunch heretic, have never been threatened by the regulations enforced by Sharia Law. I’ve never had to worry about getting my head chopped off. I’ve never had an ounce of anxiety over the possibility of a suicide bomb.
However, surprisingly, there are a couple of strip clubs in Dearborn which include halal dishes in its menu!
The Muslims in my neck of the woods are nothing more than ordinary nobodies going about their boring, mundane lives.
The recent attacks in Brussells have highlighted Muslim enclaves in metropolitan cities as potential ground for homegrown terrorism. It is undeniable that over the past twenty years, Europe have received an influx of Muslim immigrants, who congregate among themselves in the ghettos of Paris, London, Berlin etc. They are scorned by the natives for their refusal to integrate. The fact that these immigrants unhesistantly take advantage of the generious welfare systems offered by most European countries can also lead to resentment.
In the United States, the situation is drastically different. The vast majority of these immigrants manage to integrate within American culture. In fact, a little over 20& of Muslims marry someone outside of their religious community. Rather than taking advantage of US welfare benefits, Muslims in America tend to pursue professional careers, often in healthcare. In Southeast Michigan, it seems that Arab Muslims are over-represented in the pharmaceutical industry!
So what accounts for this ‘cultural difference’ between American Muslims and their European counterpart? Perhaps it has to do with the types of immigrants. Although early accounts of American Islam can be traced to the colonial era, a major influx of Muslims came to the US during the 1960’s and 1970’s. A significant number of them were graduate students and degree-holding professionals pursuing economic opportunities in business, engineering and teaching, unlike the low-skilled Muslim workers seeking factory jobs in Europe
Muslim immigrants also dominate grocery retail industry in the US. Obviously, these immigrants are not as educated as their degree-holding professional co-religionists. However, grocery retail industry allows a fast track towards social mobility. Their children can afford aspiration to do better than their parents and move upwards on the socioeconomic ladder.
America’s e pluribus unum philosophy allows immigrants, from a wide range of cultures, perceive themselves as Americans while retaining their cultural heritage. Contrast this with Europe, where the native European culture collide with the traditions of the newly-arrived immigrants. A Turk living in Germany will only see himself as a Turk. However, a Turk living in America can be both Turkish and American without any inner conflict.
As Muslims in Belgium, England, France, and Sweden continue to be ghettoized, they will be more headstrong in their refusal to integrate. Their regressive attitudes and cultural practices will result in homegrown terrorism, paving the way for more suicide bombs across Europe.
It is up to European countries to reform its approach towards immigrants. Either they must be more restrictive in the number of the immigrants they are willing to take or they must provide government-sponsored programs that will enable newly-arrived immigrants to assimilate through language courses and job-training programs.
It would be completely myopic to solely blame Islam for terrorism. The topic of terrorism itself, whether religious or political, is incredibly complex as one person’s ‘terrorist’ is another person’s ‘freedom fighter’. Frustrations and social isolation are often the trigger points, influencing a young man to blow himself up in a crowded public square. Our one-sided, shortsighted analysis on this subject will only encourage more young Muslim men to blow themselves up.
Of course, the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists or sympathetic to terrorists. Equating all Muslims with terrorism is stupid and wrong.-Ayaan Hirsi Ali