Saturday

21st May 2022

US slams Europe on Muslim integration

The failure to integrate Muslim minorities in Europe constitutes a security risk for the US, the US state department’s undersecretary for European affairs Daniel Fried told a US senate committee.

Mr Fried said unemployment, discrimination and lack of integration among Europe’s Muslim communities had created an "audience" open to extremist messages, according to Reuters.

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  • The US is not satisfied with EU integration of Muslims (Photo: EUobserver)

He added that some European countries’ far-reaching freedom of expression laws helped radical elements to spread anti-democratic ideologies.

"Add to this a deeply negative perception and a distorted perception of US foreign policy among Western European Muslim communities, and relative freedom of movement across the Atlantic, and you have a particularly dangerous mix," he said.

Mr Freid also said some Europe-based Muslim militants were directly linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network and associated groups such as Abu Musab al Zarqawi's followers in Iraq or northern Africa's Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat.

His colleague, the State Department counterterrorism coordinator Henry Crumpton, who was speaking at the same forum, said "It is now well-known that the terrorist cell that conducted the 9/11 attacks did much of its planning from a base in Europe."

"Five years later, and despite many counterterrorism successes, violent Islamic extremism in Europe continues to pose a threat to the national security of the United States and our allies", Mr Crumpton added.

"Some European countries continue to argue that terrorism is merely - or mainly - a criminal problem," Mr Crumpton concluded.

Schauble reacts

Reacting to the statements, German interior minister Wolfgang Schauble said that states and schools could only do so much to integrate young immigrants, and that parents of immigrant children had to make their contribution.

Mr Schauble indicated that expulsion could be an appropriate measure for those who did not comply with European values.

"Whoever continuously doesn't fulfil their integration obligations and doesn't want their children to live like Germans made a mistake by coming to Germany," he said, according to Spiegel Online.

Mr Schauble conceded, however, that Europeans must share some of the blame for the failed integration of Muslims in Europe, also in his country, saying "Germans must understand that foreigners are not a threat."

Immigrants to pledge Western values

The integration of immigrants into European societies has become a big issue at the EU level as well, following the terrorist attacks in Madrid and London that led to a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment across the continent.

French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy last month suggested that EU member states demand would-be immigrants to sign a "contract" that requires them to learn the language of their adopted country and accept its social norms – or risk being expelled.

Mr Sarkozy received initial support for his idea from the UK and Germany, and the ministers of the six biggest EU countries agreed to investigate how to draw up such a contract.

Several European countries have however already introduced control measures for immigration, such as language tests and tougher visa and border rules.

In Denmark, immigrants who arrive to the country for marriage have to be 24 years old - a tailor-made rule aimed at preventing forced marriages among the large Muslim immigrant minority.

The Netherlands has gone a step further, introducing new entry laws that require potential immigrants to take not only language but also "culture" exams in order to live in the country.

To prepare immigrants for Dutch liberal society, possible newcomers have to watch a film picturing a sunbathing topless woman, gay men kissing and the immigrant "ghettos" that may await immigrants coming into the country.

EU-six go it alone against smuggling and terrorists

EU interior ministers from the six biggest EU countries have agreed to step up coordination of their security services to enhance the integration of immigrants into the EU as well as to fight terrorism.

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French MEP Thierry Mariani from the far-right Identity and Democracy Group is spearheading a report in the parliament's foreign affairs committee. The socialists are boycotting it.

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