Monday, December 11, 2006

Integrating Muslims at home & abroad

Gary Younge writes of the different experiences of Muslims in the US and Europe and how the different demographics of US and European Muslims create different obstacles to integration.

The different experiences have emerged partly, it seems, because the Muslim communities on either side of the Atlantic are so different. The patterns of migration have differed. A large proportion of Muslims who came to America arrived with qualifications and were looking for professional work. As a result, they are generally well educated and well off. According to a recent study by the Journal of Human Resources, the wages of Arab and Muslim workers in the US fell by 10% in the years following the terror attacks; but they are still better paid and better educated than non-Muslims.

In Britain, the overwhelming majority of Muslims came from former colonies to live in poor areas and do low-paid work, and they remain the most economically impoverished. In 2004 Muslims had the highest male unemployment rate in Britain, at 13% - three times the rate of Christians. Meanwhile, 33% had no qualifications - the highest proportion of any religious group....

Yet it is notable that when Tony Blair lectures Muslims about integration, as he did last week, the issue of economic alienation barely ever arises. How are people supposed to integrate culturally when they cannot move professionally, economically or even geographically? Just over 50 years ago, the US supreme court banished the "separate but equal" policies that segregated state schools here; it seems Britain is embracing a dogmatic version of its antithesis - "united but unequal". |Guardian|

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