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Why Muslim Integration Fails in Christian-Heritage Societies

  • Book Title:
 Why Muslim Integration Fails In Christian Heritage Societies
  • Book Author:
Claire L. Adida, Marie-Anne Valfort
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  • List of Figures and Tables ix
  • Preface xi
  • part I Introduction 1
  • 1 The Challenge of Muslim Migrants into
  • Christian- Heritage Societies 3
  • 2 Anti- Muslim Discrimination in the French Labor Market
  • and Its Consequences 15
  • part ii Research Strategy 29
  • 3 Solving the Problem of Causal Identification 31
  • 4 Procuring a Sample 41
  • 5 Research Protocols 54
  • part iii Why Is There Religious Discrimination in France? 77
  • 6 Muslim Characteristics That Feed
  • Rational Islamophobia 79
  • 7 Evidence of Nonrational Islamophobia 93
  • 8 A Discriminatory Equilibrium 108
  • part iv Looking Beyond, Looking Ahead 125
  • 9 Beyond France: Muslim Immigrants in Western Eu rope and
  • in the United States 127
  • 10 What Is to Be Done? 148
  • Appendix 185
  • Notes 217
  • Glossary 233
  • References 237
  • Index 255

The Challenge of Muslim Migrants into Christian-Heritage Societies

If all the Arabs . . . of Algeria were considered French, how could they be prevented from settling in France? My village would no longer be called Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises but Colombey-les-Deux-Mosquées.

—Charles de Gaulle1

Can Muslim immigrants integrate into the Christian- heritage societies of the West?2 In view of recent international events, many citizens of the host societies would answer with a re- sounding no.

Although tensions involving Muslim immigrants in Europe’s Christian-heritage societies had been brewing throughout the 1980s, the fatwa issued by Iranian revolutionaries in 1989 against Salman Rushdie for his supposedly anti-Islamic novel marked a clear violent turn in what came to be known as “political Islam.”3

Several failed attempts at terrorist attacks by Islamicist groups on European tar- gets followed. But successful ones occurred, too: bombings in Paris and Lyon in 1995–1996; the 2001 al-Qa’ida attacks in the United States; the 2002 terrorist acts in Bali in which Australians suffered the bulk of the casualties; the Islamicist-inspired bombings in Spain (2004) and London (2005); the murder of Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands in 2004 for his depiction of Muslim sexuality; the un- ceasing violence against Kurt Westergaard for his unflattering portrayal of the Muslim prophet in a Danish cartoon published in 2006; the brutal attacks on soldiers in Britain and France by Islamist militants in 2013; the evidence of Muslim citizens from Christian- heritage societies joining jihadist militias in Syria and Iraq in 2014 with some anxious to deploy their newly developed murderous skills upon their return to Europe; and the hideous murders in the edito- rial offices of Charlie Hebdo and in the Hyper Casher supermarket in Paris perpetrated by self-proclaimed jihadists in the name of Islam in 2015. These events all have contributed to portray Muslims as posing a threat to Christian-heritage societies.

It is no wonder, then, that a spate of books depict a clash of civili- zations, with images of the Crusades permanently setting a boundary between the worlds of Christian and Islamic cultures. Even the most secular European elites—as exemplified by the epigraph from President de Gaulle—see their society as fundamentally Christian. The clash today is portrayed as that between Muslim immigrants and their host populations (Caldwell 2009).

Such accounts justify the Islamophobia of ordinary citizens in Christian-heritage societies by presenting it as a rational response to a clear and present danger.4 In this context, Islamophobia would simply be the host populations’ legitimate answer to a real Muslim threat.5

Survey-based evidence confirms that Muslims are widely perceived as a menace by host populations in Christian-heritage societies. In France, 43% of individuals interviewed in 2012 in a survey sponsored by the newspaper Le Figaro agreed with the statement that the Muslim community in France is “a menace to the identity of France.” Only 17% thought of this community as “a factor that culturally enriches our country” (the remaining 40% could not decide between these two options) (Institut français d’opinion publique [IFOP] 2012).

 In Germany, the Religion Monitor6 found that 51% of those inter- viewed in 2013 believed that Islam poses a threat to their way of life.7 Even young Europeans, who are supposed to be more tolerant than their parents toward immigrants (see Ford 2012a, 2012b), ex- press anti-Muslim sentiment. Of the 1,000 18- to 24-year-olds interviewed in Britain by BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat in June 2013, 27% said they do not trust Muslims (this proportion is only 16% concerning Hindus or Sikhs, 15% concerning Jews, 13% concerning Buddhists, and 12% concerning Christians).8

The justification of such distrust by one of the respondents is revealing: “When you hear about terrorism, more often than not it is Muslims that have carried it out. I just feel they’re all out to do that, they’re all the same” (Kotecha 2013).

This book puts the assumptions driving Islamophobia to test. Evidence to date leaves two questions unanswered: First, is the host population in Christian-heritage societies really Islamophobe? Many experimental studies have shown that Muslim immigrants from Muslim-majority countries—that is, those with greater than 50% of the population and here listed in Table 1.1—are discriminated against relative to natives on an everyday basis.

But it is not clear whether such discrimination is due to religion per se (Islamophobia) or to confounding factors, such as region of origin (xenophobia). Caldwell’s (2009) widely acclaimed book provides a good example of this confound.

He illustrates his claims of a Muslim challenge to France with an incident involving a Congolese immigrant. While traveling by train in France without a ticket, this immigrant was stopped by the police, shouted for help, and found solace among a crowd chanting “Nique la France” (Fuck France). Yet the incident in no way illustrates a Muslim effect.

Not only was the Congolese man, whose name is Angelo Hoekelet, not likely a Muslim; the incensed crowd was also not necessarily Muslim (Laitin 2010). Identifying whether religion is, in and of itself, a special source of discrimination against Muslim immigrants from Muslim-majority countries carries important im- plications for how we frame the issue and seek solutions. And yet, research to date has assumed, rather than shown, that religion is the source.

Second, if Islamophobia is confirmed, is it indeed a rational response to a real threat? Or is Islamophobia at least partly nonrational, meaning that the rooted populations in Christian-heritage societies discriminate against Muslims even when they do not expect any particular hostility from the Muslim immigrants with whom they interact?

Answering this question is vital for devising policy prescriptions. Islamophobia is likely to be self-perpetuating, whereby both…

Evidence of Nonrational Islamophobia

When there’s one [Muslim], that’s OK; it’s when there’s a lot of them that there are problems.

—Brice Hortefeux, former French minister of interior1

We learned in Chapter 6 that there are Muslim traits that feed statistical discrimination against Muslims. But is anti- Muslim discrimination also taste based? Do we observe that rooted French discriminate against Muslims even when they do not expect any particular hostility from Muslims with whom they interact?

Our answer, as we develop it in this chapter, is yes. We proceed as follows. In the first section, to identify whether anti-Muslim discrimination is taste based, we analyze the behavior of our subjects as they played the simultaneous trust game. Our results show that, while our FFF players do not distrust the SMs more than the SXs, they are more altruistic to their coreligionists (the SXs) than they are to those with whom they do not share a religion (the SMs).

In the second section, we examine FFF behavior toward SMs and SXs after a period in which they met each other in informal discussions, meeting the criteria of a potentially prejudice-reducing level of group contact. We show that FFF distaste toward SMs (relative to SXs) is somewhat ameliorated but still significant.

Moreover, and this is shown in the third section, FFF distaste for Muslims is regenerated when the proportion of Muslims around them increases. Overall, we find strong evidence that Islamophobia in France cannot be deemed (and justified) as being only a rational response to differences in Muslim cultural norms and practices.

The Simultaneous Trust Game: A Matter of Taste

Social psychology has revealed a tendency among human beings to nonrationally discriminate against non coethnics from an outgroup. People tend to be more hostile toward outgroup members, even when they do not expect these out-group members to represent any real threat to them. Henri Tajfel (1970), a prominent social psychologist, demonstrated this tendency in a famous experiment (followed by a series of others) in which he showed his subjects a set of juxtaposed reproductions from the paintings of Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee.

These subjects were asked for each Klee–Kandinsky pairing which painting they preferred. He then created two teams, one in which subjects preferred Klee’s paintings in the majority of cases (this team was called the “Klee team”) and one in which subjects pre- ferred Kandinsky’s in a majority of cases (this team was called the “Kandinsky team”). Subjects were informed of the logic behind this sorting. They therefore knew that group membership was not based on anything cultural, ethnic, or intellectual; it was as good as a random sorting. Third, each subject was given cash to distribute to two fellow players—one from each team—to reward them for their collective work. The results were unambiguous: subjects gave a larger share of the offering to members of their own team. In other words, the Klees discriminated against the Kandinskys (and vice versa) based on nothing other than a recently created identity reflecting no antagonism between the teams.

Do we observe a similar pattern in our experiments?2 Do FFFs side with SXs (on their religion team) rather than with SMs even if they do not expect more cooperation from SXs than from SMs? We begin to address this question by relying on the first of our experimental games, the simultaneous trust game (see Chapter 5 for the protocols). In its basic outline, from our experimental group of ten players,

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