Since the 1980s, Muslims have had an extremely challenging time integrating into the European culture, as they are struggling to adopt the practices and styles of daily lifestyles that are seen as normal within the European culture. Zemni and Parker state “Migrants, whose “problems” had been seen as a consequence of their low socioeconomic status during decades, were perceived as “culturally different”” (Parker and Zemni, 235). With that being said, Europeans are able to use this ideology as a way of explaining how Muslim’s are a threat because they are unable to adapt to the European culture. Therefor, Europeans can explain the problems the Muslim’s bring without sounding prejudice by expressing how the migrant, or Muslim is a threat because they can’t adopt new practices and fit in with the daily culture.
From my perspective, it seems as though Europeans may be using this an excuse to be prejudice, and although there may be some truth to it, there certainly is some prejudice involved as well. This way of thinking makes fitting in a lot harder for Islam and Muslims. They are automatically judged differently because people believe they don’t fit in and don’t want to adapt to the Europeans values that they pride themselves on.
Zemni and Parker explain how these judgments and assumptions “can become self full-filling” (Parker and Zemni, 236), which makes multiculturalism and integration even more challenging for Muslims in Europe. The authors state “it is never asked whether the Muslim migrant, whose social and political engagement and awareness do not extend far beyond horizons of neighborhood and family, is, in fact, fundamentally “less integrated” than the Flemish inhabitant of a working- class neighborhood whose horizons, similarly, do not extend too far beyond the local pub” (Parker and Zemni, 236). What I believe the author is trying to say is how Muslims would be looked down upon for remaining secluded and engaging in prayer, family, etc., but a Catholic would not be looked down nearly as much if he remained secluded and only contributed to society by spending money on alcohol. Muslims are not granted the same opportunity as non-Muslims in Europe. This way of thinking and this false delusional perspective makes it very challenging for Muslims.
Another problem that Muslims face is how they are seen as a group of people, rather than recognized for individual characteristics. As discussed in last weeks post, these types of assumptions have led to labeling Muslims. They are categorized as people with the same characteristics and values and are judged solely by their religion, which replaces their freedom with a more defensive, less individualistic feeling.
A very important topic that expresses the different views between Islam culture and the French culture are their opinions on the gender system. The opposing perspectives are yet another reason why many Europeans look down upon Muslims because their views are much more different. Muslims believe that women need to “hide their charms” so they are not assumed as objects and do not disrupt political power. According to Scott, the point of the Veil was to avoid excitement of sexual desires, as it is recognition to the threat that sex poses for politics and society. French, on the other hand “celebrates sex and sexuality as free of social and political risk” (Scott, 154).
The French republic believes that the headscarf that women wear to conceal themselves is a sign of inequality and goes against the principle of “abstract individualism”. Abstract individualism is used to express citizenship, and equality in the French systems is equal to sameness. The French republic believes that anyone who pledges allegiance to the Republic must obey this principle and blend in. The headscarf poses a challenge to the French idea of abstract individualism because it is segregating women from what is “normal” in society and makes the women wearing them outsiders. It is emphasized that women should not wear a headscarf out in public because they are practicing their religion outside of their own home and using religious symbols to do so.
I find it very ironic how the French republic wants to protect women’s rights as humans yet they struggle to not label them, as well as male muslims, solely for their religion. I believe the views of the French republic are very contradicting because apparently they are fighting for women’s liberty, but they are enforcing a rule that bans the headscarf, which in turn takes away their liberty. I believe that women should have the right to decide if they want to wear the headscarf or not, they should have that freedom.
Hunter, S. ( 2002). Islam, Europe’s Second Religion. Print.
Scott, Joan W. The Politics of the Veil. Princeton University Press, 2007. Print.