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Muslims: At Home In Europe. Soros Says So. It Was Always My idea, Too. 25/12 [EN]

(This article was first published in my blog At Home In Europe. Since February 2009 hosted by Euractiv.eu)
I do not claim exclusivity for the name “At Home in Europe“. In 1993, some time before George Soros engaged into bringing democracy and moral integrity into Central and Eastern Europe, I embraced that challenging slogan, together with my colleagues and friends from France, Germany and Great-Britain, in the small create!europe network. We were all working at urban neighbourhood emancipation through local integrated projects. Most of us, including me, still are.
George Soros became famous, when he speculated successfully against the British Pound (£) in 1992, forcing it out of the European currency “slang”. Much of the money he got out of this disastrous (for Europe) move, was invested, later on, into a series of private initiatives for democracy and civil society in countries like Bosnia, Hungary, Serbia and the Ukraine.
Showing, how you can throw bad money to good causes.
The New York based George Soros institute OSI (Open Society Institute) issues a report about Muslims in Europe, focussing on 11 European cities. It is produced by the OSI At Home in Europe Project , and covers:

the experiences of Muslim communities in select neighborhoods in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Antwerp, Berlin and Hamburg, Copenhagen, Leicester and Waltham Forest–London, Marseille and Paris, and Stockholm.

This report is as much about “being at home in Europe” for ALL its inhabitants, as we imagined it then. Going against the popular US and European Muslim-bashing trend, it delves into the kitchen table realities in some neighbourhoods, and depicts a completely different image of daily life, challenges and results than that which the scaremongers try to make us believe.
Being “at home”: The house is as the people who inhabit it. There is no mythical everlasting cultural “Heimat”, defined by the soil upon which it stands.

In order to be at home in Europe, Muslim immigrants, each in function of his/her background (for coming from Morocco or from Turkey, from the province or from the city, makes quite a difference), creates his own form of integration, which is a new, mixed way of life. Like immigrants in the US did successfully in the nineteenth and twentieth century.
Does that mean, that there are no problems? That is another myth about us, “Gutmenschen”, i.e., people who try to attack in fact the facts of ethnic cohabitation. Of course, there are huge problems, for the immigrants themselves as well as for the original inhabitants of the area.
The report shows, that, with good will from both sides and much help from the local authority, those problems can be solved, and, astonishingly, even turned into advantages!
How this last, seemingly improbable, magic trick can be made in the course of time, is explained (among others) in my professional website E-Urban, about urban area-oriented policies in Europe.

This is a summary of the report’s contents:

Muslims in Europe: A Report on 11 EU Cities

Date: December 2009, Source: OSI

The Open Society Institute Muslims in Europe report series constitutes the comparative analysis of data from 11 cities in seven European countries. It points out common trends and offers recommendations at the local, national, and international levels, including to the European Union and to international organizations. While not representative of the situation of all Muslims in these cities, this report does capture a snapshot of the experiences of Muslim communities in select neighborhoods in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Antwerp, Berlin and Hamburg, Copenhagen, Leicester and Waltham Forest–London, Marseille and Paris, and Stockholm.

This body of work comes in response to major trends with regards to Muslims living in Europe: whether citizens or migrants, native born or newly-arrived, Muslims are a growing and varied population that presents Europe with one of its greatest challenges, namely how to ensure equal rights and opportunities for all in a climate of rapidly expanding diversity.

The following overview report includes:

  • Executive Summary
  • Policy Context
  • Cohesion, Belonging, Discrimination and Interactions
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Neighborhood and Housing
  • Health Care
  • Policing and Security
  • Civic and Political Participation
  • Media
  • Recommendations

The publication is available for download below, in its entirety or by chapter.

(For downloading, go to the OSI At Home in Europe Project).

From the conclusions of the report:

“The OSI research suggests that religious discrimination against Muslims remains a critical barrier to full and equal participation in society.The findings of this report are consistent with other research and suggest that levels of religious discrimination directed towards Muslims are widespread and have increased in the past five years.

European-born Muslims, particularly women, were more likely to perceive higher levels of religious discrimination than Muslims born abroad. European-born Muslim men identify the police as a key source of unfair treatment and discrimination. For Muslims, the persistence of discrimination and prejudice affects their sense of national belonging.”

(Hat tip thttp://huibslog.huibs.net/ulfkotte-posts/o Dagmar and Mario, Germany).

There report is based on more than 2.000 interviews of inhabitants of the eleven European cities.

“Too many Europeans believe, that the religious identity would somehow rule out an integration [of Muslims], although a majority of the Muslims who have been interviewed, identify to a high degree with the city and with the country in which they live. The role of the City is essential, as well in the struggle against discrimination, as well as in the opening of roads to the integration of foreigners”,

said Nazia Hussain (London), who managed the project “At Home in Europe”.

A useful antidote against the “Atlas der Wut” (Map of Rage) that Mr. Ulfkotte (see Ulfkotte Documentation in HUIBSLOG) distilled recently from another US source… 


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Reader Comments (4)

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


janvier 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlena
Thank you, Alena. I love your blog, too.
janvier 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterHuib Riethof, editor
Huib, this my second comment on your posts - the other is fresh and still waiting moderation as I write this one.

I find this item very interesting and thought provoking. You will get more about myself and my thoughts from my new experiment in blogging (see link via my name) but I do have strong ideas and thoughts about integration and would like to provoke an opinion from you.

As a base I should point out that I am also Dutch like you, have worked in city Council (Rotterdam) and have grown up amongst Muslims all my life - born in Indonesia, some family members marrying into Muslim families, having a strong Moroccan constituency from my council days and I now work between Rotterdam, Casablanca, Tunisia and Istanbul in the defence contracting industry.

My simple thoughts goes along that simple line that integration can work, there is nothing Islamic to stop it but it is simply a subject of influences pushing for and against it. Many have written articles, such as yourself, about the affects and efforts of the anti-Islam groups, our own Wilders etc, and my comments on your other post is about how context is abused. Getting back to it, there has to be an acknowledgement that therei s an equally strong element within the Muslim communities themselves that are anti-integrationist with strong loyalities back to home grown groups, politics, clerics and others. That this is the "smoke" that the Wilders-type claim to be a raging fire.

There will never be a break in the "old world" or "home country" because of the globalization factor, that you can drive from Rotterdam to Casablanca easily, that families do not go "en masse" and many other reasons. It is also that the cultural link is hard to and should not so easily be broken. The question is mostly the willingness to accept, embrace and support the morals and standards of the country that the immigrant has "chosen to" move to.

A friend of mine, Turkish and living in Turkey suggested a thought and this is part of my wondering what you think. He said that Islam by its nature is part of most aspects of life and thus is treated that way in Muslim countries - including at the mosque. Thus the mosque, the Friday sermon are all a part of the community and the government has a right to involve itself in that community element of the people. Friday sermons in most Muslim countries are partially controlled, contributed or suggested to the Imam to pass the message of "community" and other important news to the people. He asks that since there is a growing and reasonably large Muslim community in Europe, why does the various European countries or the EU itself actively "get involved" with the mosques instead of allowing them to be so free that it gets abused by those at a level that "back home" they could not. He even suggested that the key to harmony and integration with Muslims in Europe is that Europe should create a European Muslim identity, their own Islamic schools, state-sponsored and teaching a new breed of pious, well-integrated and distinctly European in identity.

It is an interesting thought.


mai 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdonn2811
Dear Donny. You know, we appreciate your thoughts. Your blog "Blootstellen" is featured at the main page of Krapuul.nl, where I am contributing daily, since May 2010.
I have no idea, how a "feeding" of sermons could be organized, and if it is a good idea.
Who should do that? I am not in favor of the Turkish system. It may be (or have been) good for Turkey, but it is impracticable in a country like Holland.
juillet 21, 2010 | Registered CommenterHuib Riethof, editor

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