James J. Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute, has written a very interesting op-ed in which he discusses the differences between the Arab and Muslim communities in the United States and those in Europe.
This question has become extremely important to members of these communities and realistically to everyone in the United States [see previous post] after the 7/7 attacks in Britain, which was the product of "homegrown" terrorists. Ostensibly, similarities of the American and European experiences would tend to support the view that America may also fall victim to "homegrown" terrorism, while significant differences may calm American fears to some extent.
Zogby argues at the outset that, "There are important differences between the Arab and broader Muslim immigrant experience in Europe and that of the Arab American and American Muslim communities in the United States."
He reasons in part that Arabs and Muslims in the United States inevitably go through the process of "Becoming American," which according to Zogby, "in the end, means more than obtaining a passport and a set of legal rights. It also means adopting a new identity and absorbing a shared sense of history." (The concept of what it means to be "American" is therefore in constant flux because more and more immigrants become assimilated and integrated into American society.)
In addition to the process that the immigrants go through, American society "is more prepared to accept [immigrants] and see them as enriching the already complex American mosaic." In other words, the immigrants themselves change and they are entering an environment that knows and largely accepts "new communities."
Zogby also adds that the socio-economic condition in the United States allows for recent immigrants -- who come over as waiters or who endure other thankless jobs -- have the opportunity to rapidly advance economically.
Finally, Zogby states that if there is extremist elements in the United States, they are on the margins, and that Arab and Muslim communities are even more willing to condemn such radical components of their groups after the attacks of 9.11.
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