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Monday, August 15, 2005

"Unlike in Europe, assimilation succeeds" for U.S. Muslims

Knight Ridder columnist Gaiutra Bahadur addresses "why experts say second-generation Muslims here are unlikely recruits for terrorist organizations."

Bahadur writes while observing a summer camp for mainly Muslim and Arab children. He argues that such camps are "part of a multicultural mechanism that allows Muslims here to strike a compromise between two worlds, even in the midst of a post-Sept. 11 backlash that has made that compromise harder." According to Bahadur, the camp attendees "mirror the Muslim population in the United States: They come from middle-class, suburban families who do not live sealed off in ethnic enclaves."

This setting is different from that facing Muslims in Europe. Bahadur notes, "The descendants of Muslim immigrants in Europe... continue to live in ghettos isolated by poverty, language, religion or national origin. " However, "American Muslims are better educated and wealthier than Americans as a whole."

Bahadur continues:
It's also much easier for residents of an enclave to feel they or their communities don't have a stake--or have been denied a stake--in their adopted country. That kind of alienation exists to a lesser degree among second-generation Muslims in the United States....

Finally, Bahadur states that pluralism is a cherished social value in the Unites States, whereas, for example, in France "Muslim girls can't wear a traditional head scarf at public schools. In the Netherlands, Moroccans are barred from nightclubs."

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