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In the U.S., Acceptance; in Europe, Ghettos

Author: Ed Husain, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
November 16, 2012
New York Times


I am a product of immigration and multiculturalism. I was born and raised in England to Indian parents. I have lived and worked in Syria and Saudi Arabia, and now New York is my home. I am grateful to Europe for all that it has given me, but it continues to fail to provide a "sense of belonging" to its immigrants and their children.

In the United States, immigrants are accepted; in most of Europe, they are just tolerated. Unlike France and Germany, Britain has been experimenting with multiculturalism for three decades now. The British are ahead of mainland Europe, having fostered greater diversity in business, media and politics. But we've also helped create monocultural ghettos in northern cities where entire communities can survive without speaking English or making any contact with "white Britain." Physically they are in Britain, mentally in Pakistan. Germany and Denmark refer to second- and third-generation "immigrants" as "guest workers" in a "host country"; they are seen as Turks, not Germans, despite birth and upbringing in Deutschland.

When multiculturalism creates communal segregation and sectarianism and sows the seeds for future conflicts, we have a civic duty to take our heads out of the sand. In Europe, millions of Muslims and people of color do not feel "European." They are mostly perceived as and therefore behave as "outsiders." Granted, some feel British or French, but I am not sure whether "host countries" and their upper classes see them that way. (Class structure, of course, is another barrier to integration in Europe.) At lower rungs of society, the rise of right-wing parties confirms my suspicions of Europe.

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