General News, Integration and Islam: Are parallel societies inevitable? , 05.03.2017

Integration and Islam: Are parallel societies inevitable?

Politicians and most of the media publicly refuse to acknowledge what seems to dawn on the European population: Muslim immigration in Europe creates problems and endangers democracy in the long-run. According to a survey conducted by the internationally renowned think tank Chatham House in ten EU countries, there is a large majority against further Muslim immigration to Europe (1). The result varies from country to country. In Poland, there is the largest group of opponents with 71 per cent, followed by Austria (65%), Hungary (64 %), Belgium (64%), France (61%), Greece (58 %), Germany (53%) and Italy (51%). The percentage of advocates of further immigration lies below 32 per cent in all ten countries with a European average of approximately every fifth person having no opinion on the matter.

The reasons for increased rejection of continuing Muslim immigration are obvious: It is associated with the abuse of religion by terror, with misogyny, with the submission of western values to the sharia. The majority of the European population are obviously convinced that the Islamic mindset and commandments are incompatible with European culture. The individual case is always different, of course. But these numbers reflect the premonition of a culture clash - a premonition that did exist even before the refugee crisis. Cologne, Würzburg, Berlin and the terror attacks in Paris, Nice and Brussels have only intensified it. We are not just talking about diffuse anxieties. The premonition is based on the fact that radical Islamists as well as peaceful Muslims are able to prove that their legitimacy derives from the Quran. It is this ambivalence about the religious foundation (2) that makes Islam an unpredictable factor in integration. Again, any particular case may be different.  

But even the moderate alternative leads to a low level of integration. For it is a Muslim's fundamental belief that he owes Allah unconditional obedience. However, Allah cannot be defined or specified, which also concerns love. Christianity is ultimately about forgiveness and love becoming apparent through reason. Theologically speaking, God has created the world, by means of reason one can appreciate the work of creation, thus drawing conclusions about the creator himself. Islam is quite different: Allah also created the world, but his will remains indistinguishable for the people. Nothing can determine Allah's intention, no constitution, no culture, no state system. At the same time, Quran, Hadith and Sharia determine the behaviour and way of life of Muslims. The Quran is an uncontradictable code of law, whereas the Bible is an interpretable history book. A political and intellectual pluralism at eye level contradicts the nature and history of Islam (3).  This fundamental difference creates uncertainties and the premonition of all that is beginning to unfold.

Of course, there once was a golden era of Islam, when the role of reason was discussed more or less openly. It was the time of medical and scientific findings. In philosophy, however, the development did not go beyond the mere translation of Greek philosophers, which was done by Christian monks by the way. The question of the freedom of man, also vis-a-vis the creator, remained unanswered and eventually resulted in the modest approaches of an enlightenment halted in their tracks (4). Ever since the 15th century at the latest, such approaches by Muslim thinkers have only taken place outside the Islamic world. They do not play a role in the current educational systems. An additional factor has been the demographic explosion in the second half of the last century, which turned education for everyone into an illusion. What is more: it resulted in millions of children attending Quran schools often learning nothing but the blunt slogans of the radical variation of Islam. Demographically induced migratory pressure, though, is expected to die down in the next decades as birth rates in these countries are decreasing significantly - one may even speak of a "historic collapse" (5). However, for the moment and for the years to come the pressure will remain, particularly from Africa and the more so if the military conflicts in these regions continues.

It goes without saying – i.e. it complies with Europe's humanitarian identity - that people fleeing from war zones are granted refuge. However, integration goes way beyond the question of asylum as such. Integration of non-Muslim minorities normally does not cause any greater problems as numerous examples have shown. For Muslim refugees, the (transitional) homeland may hold the chance to become familiar with freedom, human dignity and respect for everyone, not for men only. But this requires that they are able to experience such a mentality in Europe and compare it to the Islamic mindset. This is the necessary prerequisite for integration. In its absence, parallel societies are inevitable. One may well wonder, why some media and some church leaders in particular do not (openly) want to allow Muslims to get acquainted with this experience.