Islam’s Assimilation: Italian religion, EU & the U.S.
The Muslim immigrant population in Italy differs from that in other European countries in various ways. One difference is that the first mosques were created not by and for immigrant workers, but by and for an intellectual elite of students from the Middle East (Hunter, p.79). Other distinguishing characteristics that Hunter lists include 1) diversity of countries of origin, 2) rapid pace of entry and settlement, 3) higher number of irregular immigrants, and 4) higher level of geographic dispersion (Hunter, p.80). The Islamic presence in Italy became visible with the entry of the first immigrants, whereas in other countries, Islam became visible only after the emergence of a second immigrant generation. Also unlike Germany, France, and the UK where one or two ethnic groups for the bulk of Muslims, Italian Muslims come from a wide range of countries (Hunter, p.81). The organization and development of Islam in Italy have been along the same lines in other European countries, but the pace has been more rapid. Since 1970 when Italy only had one mosque, they now have about 150 places of worship for Muslims.
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Currently in Italy, the Catholic Church is of the highest regard and is recognized as a religion on the basis of the Concordato. All other religions must sign an agreement with the state (an intesa) to be recognized as a religion. Without the intesa, these religions don’t receive various juridical and economic advantages. Many religions have signed an intesa (E.g. Jewish, Lutheran, Baptist) but the Italian Muslim community has been trying to negotiate an agreement with the state since the 1990s. There are a many factors that have contributed to the lack of an intesa with the Islamic community in Italy. The first is because the state doesn’t actually have any obligation to come to an intesa with a religion, and can discuss/impose the timing and contents of an agreement (Hunter, 89). The state has much more power than the religions, especially the smaller communities like Islam. The second is that most Muslims aren’t Italian citizens, they are immigrants. This might worry the state because they think the Muslims’ will just eventually leave back to their homeland. The third is because Muslims do not represent a powerful political group that converts many Italians. The fourth is because Muslims are perceived as an “alien” community with major cultural differences such as the use of Arabic, not Italian. Lastly, the Islamic religion itself has a weak level of organization, lack of cohesion, lack of adequate public awareness of Islam and the negative nature of such awareness where it exists, and the persistence of Islam’s image as an enemy (Hunter, 90).
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The reason that the U.S. doesn’t have a “Muslim problem” when comparing to Europe is that the U.S. seems to make it easier for Muslims to assimilate and welcome Muslims into the culture, whereas Europe does not. Muslims seem to be getting a better chance at a good education, which sets them up for better jobs. “In the U.S., Muslims make up 10% of US physicians, are the 2nd most educated group after the Jewish population, are as likely as other American households to report an income of $100,000 or more, and over 6,000 serve in the military” (Jamali, 2016). Muslims are reportedly very content with their lives in the U.S. “Unlike European Muslims the report also found that 80 percent of US Muslims were happy with life in America, and 63 percent said they felt no conflict “between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society.” (Jamal, 2016). This confirmed sense of inclusion has withheld many Muslims from joining ISIS. Unlike EU Muslims who don’t feel included or welcomed and rebel by large groups of Muslims joining ISIS.
Photo retrieved from: http://www.onlysimchas.com/news/24437/in-24-years-muslims-in-usa-will-outnumber-jews
The Muslim population in the U.S. differs from that in Europe because according to a 2007 report from the Centre of European Policy Studies, EU Muslims are more likely, than the EU general population, to be poor, segregated and crime-prone neighborhoods (Jamali, 2016). The consistent poverty has contributed to racial tensions between Muslims and Europeans. As already stated above, the U.S. population is much more assimilated and obtains higher paying jobs, which field for a more happy and content life. The author might have biases because he had a good experience assimilating to American life and he compared all his experiences to his brother. The author didn’t bring in any research of other peoples first-hand experience’s, he made large generalizations. Some things that have changed since the article was published is that Trump has been elected, which has reinforced the stereotypes of Muslims and spread the idea of the “the other” further by his racist comments, plans to build a wall and the Muslim ban. This means Muslims are no longer welcome in the U.S. and probably creates a new hate for the U.S., which would lead them to join ISIS, more than raise the American flag up high.
Photo retrieve from: http://www.essence.com/news/politics/trump-muslim-ban-statement-website
Jamali, N. (2016, April 3). “Why the US doesn’t have a Muslim problem, and Europe does.” Retrieved from: https://bblearn.missouri.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-3161668-dt-content-rid-31263459_1/courses/SP2017.GERMAN.4810.01/fpri.org-Why%20the%20US%20does%20not%20have%20a%20Muslim%20problem%20and%20Europe%20does.pdf
Hunter, S. (2002). “Islam, Europe’s Second Religion.” Print.