Books: Islam and Europe

Troubadours singing the Glories of The Crusades
Gustave Dore, 1832-1883

I believe this book, "Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, Immigration, Islam and the West," by Christopher Caldwell may hit the top of my wish list as the subject of massive immigration into Western Europe has been part of a larger rhetoric, and international debate, one in which I was a part in a large political forum.

A great case in point is this debate in the Netherlands.

When I lived in the Netherlands (1970s), immigration was discussed in negative terms, and about other immigrants. In the 50s a large number of Dutch-Indonesians flocked to the Netherlands; in the 60s and 70s, a similar phenomenon was seen with immigrants from the Dutch Antilles. The immigrants, however, were legitimate citizens of the country--an extension of their unique relationship as former and present colonies.

The immigrants from Indonesia were criticized for the smell of their food until Indonesian food became the norm. When the immigrants came from the Antilles, the criticism was sterner, and louder. Many of the immigrants were black, and most often they did not come as families but as single men who shared crowded accommodations. Crime increased and loud noises were heard about limiting their numbers.

But the total number of immigrants from both Indonesia or the Antilles was insignificant in terms of the overall population--perhaps less than 5%.

In recent years immigration from other European countries, Turkey, Christian West Africa and many Islamic countries has brought the total number of non-Dutch closer to 20%.

The racist cries, anti-Islamic rhetoric and restrictions on immigration are loud in Europe these days. And the loud noises from the conservative right is winning.

Interestingly, with few jobs, many immigrants are returning to their home lands, but that number is small.

Is it better to stay at home and feel hunger? Is it better to relocate and be starved of acceptance?

NB. The NRC Handelsblad (the Netherlands) did a write up of the book on 8 September here.

NB2. This piece in Salon brings to light how "Latino" immigration plays a role in today's politics, and featured one reason why Rep. Wilson made a fool of himself at the President's address.

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