Muslim Integration, European Social Cohesion, and Transatlantic Lessons Learned
On Thursday, September 17, GMF hosted a panel discussion around the new book from Christopher Caldwell, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West. The event focused upon the state of Muslim integration in Europe, useful lessons that the United States can draw from the European experience, and raised the question: How can we learn from each other, given our different starting points and future challenges?
GMF President Craig Kennedy welcomed the panelists and Steve Szabo, executive director of the Transatlantic Academy, gave opening remarks. Mr. Caldwell followed with an introduction of his book and discussed the history of immigration in Europe, which he described as an “accident of geography, meeting an accident of history.” John R. Bowen, professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis and an expert on Islam in Europe, followed with an engaging presentation on the status of Islam in modern day Europe. Mr. Bowen said that “Europeans are facing the reality of diversity,” drawing parallels between the struggles of political Islam and the Civil Rights movement in the United States. Following Mr. Bowen’s remarks, Geneive Abdo, a fellow at the Century Foundation, detailed the history of Muslim immigration to the United States and recent demographic trends, including how the second and third generations have expressed stronger ties to the global Islamic community.
The panelists’ presentations led to a candid round table discussion moderated by Dr. Szabo. Discussion topics ranged from the role of the media in shaping modern Islam to the intergenerational conflicts within Muslim society, with the panelists deferring to each other for their insights and expertise. Current Transatlantic Academy Fellows Ahmet Evin and Kemal Kirisci contributed with comments and questions about the collectivism of a Muslim identity and the importance of examining the role a host society plays in the integration process. The discussion was lively and shed light on the commonalities and schisms in the approaches toward Muslim integration in Europe and the United States.