History of Muslims in Europe Research Paper

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The French in particular, as they are to this day considered to be one of the greatest losers of the war (and the most important battle field of the war)

were in desperate need of men to reconstruct the country. Therefore, the immigration policies changed and allowed for an increase in the labor force flow. More precisely, "due to a perceived demographic insufficiency and labor market needs, the French government had long authorized or allowed extensive recruitment of foreign workers and colonial workers. In 1945, there was a broad consensus in governmental circles that large-scale immigration should resume. To this end, a National Immigration Office was created and given a legal monopoly over recruitment of foreign workers. (...). It welcomed the immigration and settlement of Italians and Spaniards, judged to be assimilable, while pursuing temporary foreign worker policy when North African Muslims were recruited for employment."

Similar policies were adopted not only by the French state but also by the German and the Swiss ones. The French justified its encouragement of the immigration policy as there was need for a new policy in relation to the Algerian war. After the independence of Algeria, the legal situation of the Algerian muslims had to be decided and the population was allowed to either retain their French nationality or gain the Algerian one. However, even if it was not a majority, a lot of Muslims arrived in France in the framework of the new immigration policies and the right to work in France. This led to the establishment of clear cut Muslim communities throughout France. At the same time, this was considered to have been the price paid by France to free the Algerian country

. In Germany and Switzerland, the situation was different in the sense that their immigration policies had a very particular aim which was strictly related to the improvement of the workforce with cheap, quality labor. The concept had been one dependent on the periods of economic growth and recession. More precisely, the working permits would be renewed during times of economic boosts and would be withdrew in moments of stagnation or regress. However, this was not viable especially from the point-of-view of the legal limbo the guest workers were in, especially in Germany

Given the fact that the economic recession influenced the labor market, the European states were eventually faced with unemployment rates in the community of foreign workers. Moreover, the new technologies that would eventually change the production market and the costs influenced the number of workers needed for particular areas of the European industries. In this sense, "the economic restructuring of the 1970s disproportionally adversely affected employment of aliens as they were concentrated in those sectors that suffered the most job losses. Aliens in France, for example, comprised one out of every three workers in the building sector and one out of four autoworkers. The massive job losses in these two key sectors between 1973 and 1979 greatly increased unemployment of aliens, many of whom were Muslims. The fate of largely Moroccan workers painting cars at the Renault-Flins plans outside of Paris was typical. They were replaced by robots."

This change affected the image of Muslim immigrants throughout Europe. They became associated with unemployment and with increased birth rates. While the first aspect of this assessment is presented above, the birth rate is, in line with the Muslim religion, a trait of the Islamic world. In particular, the birth rate among the European muslims increased mostly at the settled population due to a secure environment especially during the 60s and the 70s. More precisely, "these rates in fact belong to an already settled population of immigrants whose children, for example, comprise a growing proportion of the British and French population of the last quarter century"

. Moreover, the fact that the Islamic religion encourages the consideration of family as the base of the society has determined a change in the democratic spectrum of the European society as a whole.

The Muslims are at this point present from Albania to Great Britain in very large numbers as opposed to the total population of the European continent. In Albania for instance the percentage of the Muslim population reaches 70, an aspect which is explicable given the history of the Albanian state and its allegiance to the former Ottoman Empire. However, at the 2004 statistics, in Austria, the muslim population was 4.1% of the total population, in France it reached 9.6%, the Netherlands had 5.8% Muslim population, whereas in Spain, UK, Sweden, or Switzerland it varied from 2% to 4.2%

. The birth rate of the Muslim population makes it almost impossible for the statistics to follow a very precise line and constant updates are necessary.

Brief history of the Muslim presence in the U.S.

According to scholarly views, the "muslims now constitute an important part of North American society. Islam may be the fastest growing religion in the United States, poised to displace Judaism and become second only to Christianity in number of adherents. Its growth is mainly due to the rapid influx of immigrants and their relatively high birthrates, but the number of African America, Euro American, and hispanic converts is increasing too."

The initial immigration flow of Muslims in the United States tend to follow a similar path as the one in Europe, albeit of more recent date. In this sense, in the 19th century and the early 20th century there was a massive immigration into the United States in terms of Muslims from the Turkish Empire as well as from the Asian continent. This in turn determined a new categorization of American Muslim groups. Thus there are, according to Leonard Karen, three different American Muslim groups. These include African-Americans, Arabs, and the South Asian group

. This can be explained by the large cultural difference that exists in America and in particular by the history the American society has experienced. More precisely, the African-American muslims, even those descending from slave ancestors, did not conserve their religious muslim background but rather became adherents at the beginning of the 20th century. The fact that often Christianity had been associated with white people and white supremacy, drove African-Americans to other religious ideas, among which the Islamic belief. Thus, "African-American Muslim history starts again in the early 20th century, when black migration to the North encountered religions new to them and drew upon to create alternatives to Christianity and white America"

. The other groups of Muslims have maintained their religious background and have benefited from the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965.

Part II: The muslims in Europe and the U.S.

There have been wide debates on the way in which Muslims and the Islamic community tends to adapt themselves to the changing societies int he United States and the European Union. It can be said that in both regions of the world, the attitude lacks a clear sense of religious and cultural tolerance. The cases of allegation of discrimination against Muslims in France and other countries in the world, the politically incorrect attitudes of the Danish newspapers in 2005, as well as the general negative attitude facing Muslims in the United States, determined a case of Islamophobia which is present throughout the two regions under analysis. For the proper construction of the research, each of these cases is dealt with in more detail.

The situation in France is one of the most worrisome in Europe. Recently, the daughter of former far right leader Jean Marie Le Pen considered the Muslim presence in the country to represent "an occupation." More precisely, "it is an occupation of sections of the territory, of districts in which religious laws apply. it's an occupation"

. The statement addressed the comparison between the German occupation during the Second World War to that of the Muslims at the moment. The reactions were fierce in the comments made by president Sarkozy who condemned both the comparison and the statements in themselves. Even so, the situation in France provides a clear sense of tension between the local French and the Muslims.

One of the most difficult moments in the relation between the French state and the Muslim community was in early 2010 when the law banning the wear of the hijab (the Arab scarf covering the face of Muslim women) in public schools. There have been numerous discussions on the issue, as the Muslims consider it to be of religious importance. However, the general perception of the women wearing veils is of growing fundamentalism and an reconsideration of France's traditional beliefs.

The background for this scandal is represented by the 2004 banning of all ostentatious religious symbols in public schools

. The motivation of the law was, according to the Time Magazine, "that the garment serves a dual purpose for extremists: it sends French society a visually arresting message of radical Islam's presence and forces adherents…

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