In The Nation, Richard Wolin reviews a crop of recent books on the issue of integration of foreigners into European societies:
[C]onverts to Islamic fundamentalism are made and not born. In most cases, Islamism is a conscious choice embraced by frustrated second-generation immigrants who feel they are growing up in an ethnic and cultural no man’s land. In French Hospitality (1984), Tahar Ben Jelloun, a Moroccan writer based in Paris, accurately describes them as "a generation doomed to cultural orphanhood and ontological fragility." Thus, Islam and Islamism are two different things–a point that "clash of civilization" theorists like Samuel Huntington have failed to register….
Thus the rise of Islamism in Europe has very little to do with the intrinsic nature of Islam as a religion and everything to do with the failures of integration and Muslim immigrants’ sense of de-territorialization. As Olivier Roy comments in his foreword to Jonathan Laurence and Justin Vaisse’s Integrating Islam: "All serious studies of the formation of terrorism in Europe show that the process is more likely to be the result of alienation, isolation and generational crisis." This conclusion distinctly belies the claims of scaremongering jeremiads like Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept and French author Emmanuel Brenner’s The Lost Territories of the Republic, which misleadingly contend that, à la Bernard Lewis, Europe is undergoing a process of "reverse colonization." The implication is that in twenty years’ time, Europe as we have known it will cease to exist; it will have instead become "Eurabia."
Later, Wolin notes, Azouz Begag, France’s first "Minister for Equal Opportunities," has recently published a book in which he praises (with qualification) American policies and attitudes toward ethnic minorities. However, the French find the amount of attention paid to race by American administrators distasteful. France’s commitment to a neutral public space in which all residents of the country are exclusively "French citizens" is so strong that French government statisticians do not even keep track of citizens on the basis of race or religion: "French republicans proudly distinguish their étatiste conception of citizenship, which guarantees a neutral public space, from the atomistic Anglo-Saxon model, where the individual is the primary bearer of rights."
I tend to agree with Wolin that the "Eurabia" threat is absurd. Where he falls short, in my view, is in addressing court rulings and government policies that endorse exceptions to regulations for members of religious communities. That’s a more difficult issue for Americans to address, because these conflicts just seem to come up a lot less frequently on the other side of the Atlantic. I’ve often asked myself why that is, but don’t have a very specific answer…