Creative Destruction

November 30, 2006

Are We Anti-Muslim?

Filed under: International Politics,Political Correctness — Tuomas @ 9:07 pm

According to a survey by Pew Global Attitudes Project, not really.

Despite concerns about an anti-Muslim backlash in the wake of a string of highly publicized events involving Muslims living in Europe – subway bombings in London, controversy over Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad, rioting by Muslim youth in France – most Muslims living in Europe do not feel that most or even many Europeans are hostile toward people of their faith. Indeed, European Muslims are, in general, more satisfied with national conditions than are the general publics of these countries.

Substantial majorities of Muslims living in the European countries surveyed say that in the last two years they have not had any personally bad experience attributable to their race, ethnicity or religion. In France, however, where riots last fall pitted Muslim youth against French police, 37% of Muslims report a bad encounter, while in Britain 28% report being the target of discrimination.

Muslims in Spain are the least concerned about European anti-Muslim sentiment – fewer than a third (31%) say most or many Europeans have hostile attitudes compared with 64% who see only some or very few as hostile. In Great Britain, 42% of Muslims judge that many or most of their European hosts are unfriendly, while in France, 39% of resident Muslims share that view. Only in Germany does a narrow 51%-majority of resident Muslims view most (22%) or many (29%) Europeans as hostile.

In some of the European host countries surveyed, the general public agrees precisely with these assessments. In Great Britain, 40% of the public sees most or many of their fellow countrymen as hostile to Muslims compared with 42% of British Muslims taking that view; in Germany, 63% of the larger public agrees with the 51% of Muslims who see most or many of their hosts as hostile. But in France a considerably larger number among the public (56%) see substantial hostility toward Muslims than do Muslims themselves (39%). And in Spain, nearly twice as many in the overall population (60%) see most or many Europeans as hostile to Muslims as do Spanish Muslim, only 31% of whom share that view.

(my emphases)

Muslims are more satisfied than the general public. (!)

In France and Spain, Muslims themselves feel less hostility from Europeans than the European general public assumes existing. Only in Britain do the Muslims feel more hostility — by a margin of a mighty 2 %.

What does this tell us?

Permit me to speculate. Whenever a terrorist act by Muslim terrorists is committed on European soil, or there are Muslim riots, the news media and most mainstream politicians practically go into overdrive warning about the growing “Islamophobia”, and how our “Islamophobia” may have provoked this or that atrocity… By Muslims. And we fools believe it.

Perhaps we should listen to this guy, a former terrorist from Egypt:

He’s exasperated now, visibly angry at what he sees as a willful Western foolishness. “Stop asking what you have done wrong. Stop it! They’re slaughtering you like sheep and you still look within. You criticize your history, your institutions, your churches. Why can’t you realize that it has nothing to do with what you have done but with what they want.”

The facts seem to support his position.

[edit: Perhaps I should add here that thankfully the concern over rising Islamic extremism is high among Muslims in many countries surveyed. Oh, and read the whole survey.]

[edit 2: Coincidentally, there just happens to be a thread at Feministe, about Mark Steyn (who is apparently anti-immigration, altough he doesn’t once suggest reducing immigration) and “Islamophobia” in Europe. People there seem to be pinging PulledOutOffMyAss.com in their opinions about European Islamophobia. They’ll surely appreciate a real survey like the Pew one, and reconsider their opinions on the matter accordingly. Even if they won’t arrive to same conclusion as I just did.]

17 Comments »

  1. Indeed, European Muslims are, in general, more satisfied with national conditions than are the general publics of these countries.

    It doesn’t follow that there is no widespread discrimination against Muslims. I’d give you precise statistics about discrimination, but countries in Europe are less than willing to take racial statistics to determine things like wage gaps. In the US, it’s mandatory for employers to report racial statistics, so you know exactly what’s going on. I don’t think it is in any country in Europe; in France it’s explicitly forbidden.

    It’s a lot easier to say there is no racism when the government makes sure no statistics that can settle the question are available.

    Comment by Alon Levy — December 1, 2006 @ 10:00 am | Reply

  2. Tuomas wrote:

    What does this tell us?

    It tells us that European Muslims aren’t the ones with the oil and we don’t struggle with them as a class any more than European Hindus, European Rastafarians, European Ra worshippers, etc.

    Early in our (the U.S.) overt Middle East wars (as opposed to our covert mischief over many years), many observers came out and said plainly: “Duh, it’s the oil, stoopid!” Well, it’s still the oil. But we’ve been heavily dosed with an Orwellian propaganda campaign to make us hate Islam in general and bin Laden in particular, and like obedient sheep, many of us have. So why don’t we hate European Muslims, South American Muslims, or Malaysian Muslims? Because we frankly don’t care that they’re Muslim.

    In contrast, the reason why we care so deeply and innately about the oil is that our entire social structure depends upon it. The U.S. simply can’t go on in its current incarnation without cheap energy at its disposal, especially so that we can get in our cars and drive everywhere. (Wouldn’t it be ironic to see all those SE Asian bicycle cultures become economic powerhouses when all our cars sit in the garage for lack of fuel? And you won’t see many Americans out on their bikes huffing and puffing.) That energy is concentrated in the Middle East, so we go after it (and them), like the decadent Western imperialists we are (and have been labelled for years).

    Comment by Brutus — December 1, 2006 @ 11:35 am | Reply

  3. It doesn’t follow that there is no widespread discrimination against Muslims. I’d give you precise statistics about discrimination, but countries in Europe are less than willing to take racial statistics to determine things like wage gaps. In the US, it’s mandatory for employers to report racial statistics, so you know exactly what’s going on. I don’t think it is in any country in Europe; in France it’s explicitly forbidden.

    Actually in most European countries other than France such things are measured.

    It’s a lot easier to say there is no racism when the government makes sure no statistics that can settle the question are available.

    I think you should reread the post. I’m not sure what this has to do with anything presented. Nor are we talking about race here.

    The point is that most are happy, but this is far from claiming that “there is no discrimination or racism (is Islam a race?) against Muslims”.

    Brutus:

    And what has any of that to do with a survey committed in Europe?

    Comment by Tuomas — December 1, 2006 @ 12:14 pm | Reply

  4. Tuomas wrote:

    And what has any of that to do with a survey committed in Europe?

    Oh, I dunno … maybe that Pew is asking the wrong questions and causing others to draw the pointless conclusions.

    Comment by Brutus — December 1, 2006 @ 12:18 pm | Reply

  5. Oh, I dunno … maybe that Pew is asking the wrong questions and causing others to draw the pointless conclusions.

    Is that self-decrepating humor or are you serious?

    Comment by Tuomas — December 1, 2006 @ 12:48 pm | Reply

  6. Actually in most European countries other than France such things are measured.

    Yeah, but the statistics I get fluctuate. Finding the unemployment rate for blacks in the US is trivial. Finding the rate for Turks in Germany gives me figures ranging from 25 to 31% and I’m positive I saw 43% somewhere, but the comment I linked to it in has gotten eaten since.

    The point is that most are happy, but this is far from claiming that “there is no discrimination or racism (is Islam a race?) against Muslims”.

    Given that the main grievance of the rioters in France centered around social exclusion (read: unemployment) and police racism, I’d say that “Are we anti-Muslim?” and “Do we discriminate against Muslims?” are equivalent.

    Islam isn’t a race, but discrimination against Muslims in Europe has racial undertones. First, names are used as an identifying marker, separating Ali from Alain. Second, although a few Muslims in Europe are converts, the vast majority are visible minorities. And third, the repression of a minority religion can translate to racial repression; in the US, Irish and Jewish immigrants integrated in part because the government tolerated their religion-based civil society structures.

    Comment by Alon Levy — December 1, 2006 @ 1:28 pm | Reply

  7. You mean “self-deprecating”? No, I’m being serious. I think the focus is askew.

    Comment by Brutus — December 1, 2006 @ 2:05 pm | Reply

  8. I am much more interested in knowing whether Muslims are anti-Western than I am in knowing whether westerners are anti-Muslim.

    Comment by Robert — December 1, 2006 @ 2:18 pm | Reply

  9. Given that the main grievance of the rioters in France centered around social exclusion (read: unemployment) and police racism, I’d say that “Are we anti-Muslim?” and “Do we discriminate against Muslims?” are equivalent.

    You still won’t get it?
    I’m not claiming there isn’t discrimination. There is little backlash against Muslims, and European societies aren’t as Anti-Muslim as some would like to believe (not really =/= not at all).
    If Muslims feel less hostility than the host society, don’t you think there is a disconnect? If we compare it to US and Blacks, I presume it is rather easy for a White to assume that there is little racism, but it doesn’t take many bigots to make things unpleasant for a discriminated minority (hence Black perceptions on racism are, I suspect, far more likely to view it as a serious problem than White).
    As for unemployment, those are true problems. I agree (hmm. There goes the “we need more immigrants for work shortage”😉 ) However, there is the danger of using differential outcome to presume discrimination. A liberal position, but not exactly an uncontroversial one.

    And third, the repression of a minority religion can translate to racial repression; in the US, Irish and Jewish immigrants integrated in part because the government tolerated their religion-based civil society structures.

    Eh? So all repression is “racism”?
    How does that theory square with the fact that apparently French and German Muslims feel the least hostility, and British (decidedly Multi-Cultural, or anti-assimilation) rank at the top on alienation and rise of radicalism?

    You mean “self-deprecating”? No, I’m being serious. I think the focus is askew.

    Pardon the misspelling.
    US Imperialism, oil interests and the global Pew conspiracy have IMO precious little to do with European situation with Muslims. Especially considering most European Muslims originate from less oily countries.
    This post is about Europe, not your pet peeves about US. Deal.

    Comment by Tuomas — December 1, 2006 @ 2:23 pm | Reply

  10. I am much more interested in knowing whether Muslims are anti-Western than I am in knowing whether westerners are anti-Muslim.

    Agreed, but I think it is fairly important to bury a pernicious myth about anti-Muslim prejudices in the West that are then used to excuse anti-Western sentiments among Muslims.

    Comment by Tuomas — December 1, 2006 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

  11. Tuomas wrote:

    US Imperialism, oil interests and the global Pew conspiracy have IMO precious little to do with European situation with Muslims. Especially considering most European Muslims originate from less oily countries.

    Conspiracy? I never used that word. Given the context of a global threat of terrorism currently emanating from radical Islam (something U.S. foreign policy has only exacerbated), I don’t think it’s currently possible to separate how Muslims in Europe are getting along from war-torn Middle Eastern Muslims. It’s not an entirely invalid question on the part of Pew, but a mistaken focus, as I submitted earlier.

    This post is about Europe, not your pet peeves about US. Deal.

    Me and my little, niggling pet peeves. That’s all they are? Try Googling the string “wwiii already begun” and see what you get.

    Comment by Brutus — December 1, 2006 @ 3:36 pm | Reply

  12. Me and my little, niggling pet peeves. That’s all they are?

    Brutus, there’s a world of difference between what you’re saying now and #2.

    Conspiracy? I never used that word.

    Well, never mind🙂 .

    Given the context of a global threat of terrorism currently emanating from radical Islam (something U.S. foreign policy has only exacerbated), I don’t think it’s currently possible to separate how Muslims in Europe are getting along from war-torn Middle Eastern Muslims.

    What, I thought the terrorist threat was just an Orwellian (the most overused word in Internet, IMHO) propaganda campaign to make us hate Islam and Bin Laden?

    Why is it not possible to separate Muslims in Europe from Mid-East Muslims? Islam isn’t a monolith. I think problems with Muslims in Europe have much more to do with:
    a) Possible incompatibility of Islam and secular European values (Turkey is an interesting, hopeful exception, and not coincidentally, Germany who has mostly Turks is faring well). Please note: This is not about blaming anyone.
    b) Socioeconomic factors and alienation among Muslim youths
    c) Policy of mirror-gazing and frankly, appeasement towards demands backed by violence. Why shouldn’t radicals use violence if that is what works?
    d) Combination of the above.

    It can have something to do with “GWB’s war for oil”. I don’t think it’s all that big of an effect. Sorry, but America isn’t the root of all.

    I’d like to know what would be the questions that you would have asked to produce correct results?

    Comment by Tuomas — December 1, 2006 @ 4:29 pm | Reply

  13. Tuomas wrote:

    Brutus, there’s a world of difference between what you’re saying now and #2.

    Perhaps, but they stem for the same source, U.S. foreign policy, which is currently dominating the globe and shaping attitudes everywhere (though not in the same ways).

    What, I thought the terrorist threat was just an Orwellian (the most overused word in Internet, IMHO) propaganda campaign to make us hate Islam and Bin Laden?

    Overused, perhaps, but nonetheless true. We need an enemy to define ourselves against, and in the absence of the former “Evil Empire” (the Soviet Union), we’ve moved on to terrorism and it’s most virulent practioners.

    Why is it not possible to separate Muslims in Europe from Mid-East Muslims? Islam isn’t a monolith.

    I suppose it is possible (a retraction of sorts from me), just irrelevant in the current state of the world. Hardly anyone references Judaism without first considering Israel. I think to bypass what’s going on in the Middle East to ask about European Muslims is ignoring the elephant in the room. If there weren’t a war on (still) in Iraq, maybe it would make sense to turn our attentions elsewhere.

    I’d like to know what would be the questions that you would have asked to produce correct results?

    Correct results for what objective? I object to the topic presented as pointless navel gazing. If you find it worthwhile to consider, you’ll have to convince me.

    Comment by Brutus — December 1, 2006 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

  14. Perhaps, but they stem for the same source, U.S. foreign policy, which is currently dominating the globe and shaping attitudes everywhere (though not in the same ways).

    Oh come on.

    I object to the topic presented as pointless navel gazing. If you find it worthwhile to consider, you’ll have to convince me.

    Good for you! I’m not particularly interested in convincing you. If it doesn’t interest you, then wtf are you commenting for? To voice — repeatedly — the fact that you find this pointless?

    I think to bypass what’s going on in the Middle East to ask about European Muslims is ignoring the elephant in the room. If there weren’t a war on (still) in Iraq, maybe it would make sense to turn our attentions elsewhere.

    A rather lame attempt for a thread hijack.

    Is it really odd that someone who is an European would consider the relationship between Muslim Europeans and Non-Muslim Europeans in any way important?

    As for Iraq war, who’s stopping you from focusing in it (altough you should write a separate post on that), nor does the this post mean that I have “forgotten” about it. It’s just not something that affects me particularly much.

    Correct results for what objective? I object to the topic presented as pointless navel gazing. If you find it worthwhile to consider, you’ll have to convince me.

    Pew, according to you:

    Oh, I dunno … maybe that Pew is asking the wrong questions and causing others to draw the pointless conclusions.

    Pew is asking wrong questions, I’m writing about wrong things…

    Hate to be blunt (okay, I don’t) but get over yourself already. Pew or my posts don’t exist to address the issues you deem important.

    As for the utility of this study, well, I find it rather important. As much of the radicalization is of Muslims is based on the perception of European Anti-Muslim attitudes, which is used as a recruiting tool.

    Did you or did you not have a comment that is relevant to the topic?

    Comment by Tuomas — December 1, 2006 @ 6:46 pm | Reply

  15. Also, I might point out that Iraq war, horrific as it may be, does not necessarily have lasting effect (in the scale of immigration), whereas tens of millions of Muslims in Europe will have a lasting, permanent effect that affects hundreds of millions people. Negative, positive or both remains to be seen.

    Of course, one can always play the “but there’s an even bigger issue we should all focus on” -game. Always.

    Comment by Tuomas — December 1, 2006 @ 6:56 pm | Reply

  16. Tuomas wrote:

    I’m not particularly interested in convincing you. If it doesn’t interest you, then wtf are you commenting for? To voice — repeatedly — the fact that you find this pointless?

    I initially commented to point out what I believe to be a misframing of the issue. After that, I just got rolling and became rather unprincipled in my responses, drawing in anything I wanted to argue, mostly for argument’s sake. Sorry about that. It’s not that I don’t believe what I wrote, I do. But you’re right that I hijacked the comments thread. (I wouldn’t call it “lame,” exactly, as it was effective in getting us talking about my issues, but it was unprincipled, which isn’t something I indulge in often.)

    Comment by Brutus — December 2, 2006 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  17. I initially commented to point out what I believe to be a misframing of the issue.

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree there. I think you do overestimate the relevance of the US outside US.

    As for the rest, well, I could have argued more politely too.

    Comment by Tuomas — December 2, 2006 @ 2:11 pm | Reply


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