Europe's Angry Muslims
From Foreign Affairs,
Summary: Radical Islam is spreading across Europe
among descendants of Muslim immigrants. Disenfranchised and disillusioned
by the failure of integration, some European Muslims have taken up jihad
against the West. They are dangerous and committed -- and can enter the
United States without a visa.
Robert S. Leiken is Director of the
Immigration and National Security Program at the Nixon Center and a
nonresident Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of
Bearers of Jihad? Immigration and National Security After 9/11.
AN AMERICAN CONCERN
Fox News and CNN's Lou Dobbs worry about terrorists stealing across the
United States' border with Mexico concealed among illegal immigrants. The
Pentagon wages war in the Middle East to stop terrorist attacks on the
United States. But the growing nightmare of officials at the Department of
Homeland Security is passport-carrying, visa-exempt mujahideen coming from
the United States' western European allies.
Jihadist networks span Europe from Poland to Portugal, thanks to the
spread of radical Islam among the descendants of guest workers once
recruited to shore up Europe's postwar economic miracle. In smoky
coffeehouses in Rotterdam and Copenhagen, makeshift prayer halls in
Hamburg and Brussels, Islamic bookstalls in Birmingham and "Londonistan,"
and the prisons of Madrid, Milan, and Marseilles, immigrants or their
descendants are volunteering for jihad against the West. It was a Dutch
Muslim of Moroccan descent, born and socialized in Europe, who murdered
the filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam last November. A Nixon Center
study of 373 mujahideen in western Europe and North America between 1993
and 2004 found more than twice as many Frenchmen as Saudis and more
Britons than Sudanese, Yemenites, Emiratis, Lebanese, or Libyans. Fully a
quarter of the jihadists it listed were western European nationals --
eligible to travel visa-free to the United States.
The emergence of homegrown mujahideen in Europe threatens the United
States as well as Europe. Yet it was the dog that never barked at last
winter's Euro-American rapprochement meeting. Neither President George W.
Bush nor Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice drew attention to this mutual
peril, even though it should focus minds and could buttress solidarity in
YOUR LAND IS MY LAND
The mass immigration of Muslims to Europe was an unintended consequence
of post-World War II guest-worker programs. Backed by friendly politicians
and sympathetic judges, foreign workers, who were supposed to stay
temporarily, benefited from family reunification programs and became
permanent. Successive waves of immigrants formed a sea of descendants.
Today, Muslims constitute the majority of immigrants in most western
European countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, and the
Netherlands, and the largest single component of the immigrant population
in the United Kingdom. Exact numbers are hard to come by because Western
censuses rarely ask respondents about their faith. But it is estimated
that between 15 and 20 million Muslims now call Europe home and make up
four to five percent of its total population. (Muslims in the United
States probably do not exceed 3 million, accounting for less than two
percent of the total population.) France has the largest proportion of
Muslims (seven to ten percent of its total population), followed by the
Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Italy.
Given continued immigration and high Muslim fertility rates, the National
Intelligence Council projects that Europe's Muslim population will double
Unlike their U.S. counterparts, who entered a gigantic country built on
immigration, most Muslim newcomers to western Europe started arriving only
after World War II, crowding into small, culturally homogenous nations.
Their influx was a new phenomenon for many host states and often
unwelcome. Meanwhile, North African immigrants retained powerful
attachments to their native cultures. So unlike American Muslims, who are
geographically diffuse, ethnically fragmented, and generally well off,
Europe's Muslims gather in bleak enclaves with their compatriots:
Algerians in France, Moroccans in Spain, Turks in Germany, and Pakistanis
in the United Kingdom.
The footprint of Muslim immigrants in Europe is already more visible
than that of the Hispanic population in the United States. Unlike the
jumble of nationalities that make up the American Latino community, the
Muslims of western Europe are likely to be distinct, cohesive, and bitter.
In Europe, host countries that never learned to integrate newcomers
collide with immigrants exceptionally retentive of their ways, producing a
variant of what the French scholar Olivier Roy calls "globalized
Islam": militant Islamic resentment at Western dominance,
anti-imperialism exalted by revivalism.
As the French academic Gilles Kepel acknowledges, "neither the
blood spilled by Muslims from North Africa fighting in French uniforms
during both world wars nor the sweat of migrant laborers, living under
deplorable living conditions, who rebuilt France (and Europe) for a
pittance after 1945, has made their children ... full fellow
citizens." Small wonder, then, that a radical leader of the Union of
Islamic Organizations of France, a group associated with the Muslim
Brotherhood, curses his new homeland: "Oh sweet France! Are you
astonished that so many of your children commune in a stinging naal bou la
France [fuck France], and damn your Fathers?"
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