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Overview of Immigration Problems in Europe
Immigration problems in Europe are the talk of the town nowadays. The social scientists are presenting a plethora of theories that explain the mechanism of Islam in the West and the socioeconomic and sociopolitical consequences of this marriage. Many immigration problems in Europe have surfaced after the ‘sans-integration Muslim migration’ in Europe and the US.
The new generation of Muslims, colloquially termed as the post-migrants, especially has become more pronounced and vociferous in terms of religious identity and practices which has given birth to potential immigration problems in Europe.
There are various reasons behind this, especially the ever-growing rise of Muslims in the West (still not more than 5% of the total population in Europe) in the wake of unchecked immigration, the financial instability that somewhat marginalized Muslims, and the lack of awareness of modern and information technology-based job sector, social and educational illiteracy, etc.
In other words, recent immigration problems in Europe are the unintended consequences of the info-tech revolution, identity politics, and economic recessions.
There is a sudden rise in Islam of hardliners and fundamentalists. They are identity-centered and do not want to socially integrate with the local folks. It shows their disliking of the European and American culture. This has created a backlash against Muslims between the civilizations that in reality stand poles apart. Therefore, immigration problems in Europe have become pronounced in the 21st century.
1. The Liberal Early Generations
Why was Europe initially generous towards immigrants? In the early days, there were no immigration problems in Europe. When the first generation of Muslims came to Europe and the U.S., they were far from being religious let alone conservatives.
This generation tried to become more like the local people, adapted to the local culture, and did things that were against the basic ethical premises of Islam and the religious injunctions in general. They would go to bars, dance, and inter-dine. They were even openly involved in sexual relations that were otherwise strongly prohibited in Islam.
It was the single most important reason that they were like the indigenous people, hence acceptable. This social milieu did not leave any space for immigration problems in Europe.
2. Low Expectations of the Poor Migrants
Additionally, the early migration of Muslims (migration in the wake of the industrial revolution in the West) was on a limited scale. Muslims were few and far between in the ever-growing Western economy and society that did not create any immigration problems in Europe.
Notably, these migrants were from poor and backward societies. They were especially from the continent of Asia and the Arab peninsula. It meant that they would be more than happy even to get a simple living (that they mainly did). They knew they were in a culture that was far richer and advanced as compared to theirs.
Therefore, their expectations were quite low (paradoxically, they witnessed generosity (acceptance) that exceeded their expectations) and they were more than happy even to get a chance to live in the West.
This was also an important factor that acculturated them, prompting the welcoming attitude of the Western countries. Having low expectations and small-scale immigration (as compared to today) meant that there were immigration problems in Europe.
3. Economic Stability of Europe Left no Space for Immigration Problems in Europe
Initially, there were no immigration problems in Europe because the Western hemisphere was rising as a strong economic power. It was followed by the rise of the welfare state system that made sure that people from all segments of society regardless of caste, color, creed, and outlook. The strong economies were easily able to bear the burden of the small-scale migration of the people of exotic cultures.
In France, for example, there was an unprecedented economic development in the aftermath of World War II, so much so this epoch-making era is known as “The Trentes Glorieuses”, regarded as the 30 glorious years of the economic and industrial boom from 1945 to 1975 and the GDP growth even reached 6 % which was astonishing.
In fact, the economic growth was never less than 4 % while the purchasing power parity of the average worker’s salary rose to a whopping 170 %. It meant that the migrants would also get benefited from this upward trajectory of the economy.
The case was no different in the UK, where, the 1950s and 1960s were marked by economic turnover and advancements. This was also a notable factor that did not bread any immigration problems in Europe.
1. Economic Crises and Immigration Problems in Europe
Why the issue of migrants in Europe now? The situation changed considerably making Muslims a marginalized community in a liberal country. The economic slowdown in the 1970s in most European countries especially in England, France, Italy, Belgium, etc. made lives rougher and tougher than the initial days promoting a somewhat mild backlash. For the first time, immigration problems in Europe came into the limelight as many people started opposing new migrants.
The energy crises in 1973, 1974, and then 1979 further affected the lives of the people. The government-cum-state started to prioritize the locals over the migrants. Manufacturing base jobs had crumbled very badly. The automation cut into assembly-line jobs as well. Subsequently, Muslims lost their jobs and businesses due to economic constraints.
On the one hand, the welfare state was getting weakened while the numbers of immigrants were growing without a respite. This economic landslide made the second generation make a far-fetched comparison between their own lives and of their elders who got more acceptance and widely enjoyed the economic dividends. Hence the backlash against Muslims grew serious and immigration problems in Europe became hard to handle.
Meanwhile, the Western Christian states such as Poland, Hungary, Romania, and others were in a state of flux, mainly due to the economic meltdown. They further became biased towards the migrant Muslims and the attitude of the Western countries became discriminatory. It is one of the reasons for the ongoing immigration problems in Europe.
2. Rise of IT-based Jobs and Businesses
The information technology revolution aggravated the immigration problems in Europe albeit indirectly. The socio-economic transition in the West also changed the attitude of the liberal Western states. From work that depended largely on physical labor like manufacture, mining, and heavy industry to an information and service economy that relied on mental labor in offices and new skills and workings.
The “Leiken” or say post-migrants remained unaware of this big shift and didn’t go for higher education and learning the useful skills and tools (information technology tools). For example, of all the post-migrants (Muslims) in Germany, only 5% of Muslims attained higher education which made them lose jobs in the wake of the information.
In Belgium, with a strong economy, the young Muslims nosedived and a total of 40% of them became jobless (and still hovers near it). Due to the loss of unskilled jobs, Muslims would not get a high-pay job, which created a feeling of distrust, worsening the immigration problems in Europe.
3. The Traditional Jobs Became redundant
The traditional jobs became redundant and the second-generation immigrants dropped into low-tech workshops, non-union construction, agriculture, or unskilled work in hospitals, hotels, restaurants, etc. The white males would be hot contestants for a high-pay job in contrast to Muslims.
The children of immigrants (the first didn’t face this) often found themselves eligible only for jobs inferior to those of their parents. Notably, it was happening at a time when immigration problems in Europe were high due to reduced support for foreigners.
Therefore, Muslims became the toppers in all the negative social indicators including unemployment, poverty rates, incarceration, and high school dropouts. This economic upheaval not only made the second and third generation of Muslims, irredentists but also religiously hostile and extremists.
This sounded true when the Catholics out of poverty joined the extremist groups and even the terrorist organizations. This was no less important reason that changed the attitude of the Western countries towards Muslims; prompting immigration problems in Europe.
4. Identity Became all-important Thing for Muslims
Due to these economic and social tumults, the second and the third generations of Muslim immigrants tried to create some space and identity of their own in an ever-increasing hostile civilization. Meanwhile, the number of Muslims in the Western hemisphere increased manifold, not only because of the rampant migration of Muslims but also the widespread conversion of Christians to Islam.
This religious and cultural onslaught (at least sought by a great number of laypersons and the Christian revivalists) was led by Islamic missionaries, especially Jama’at al Tabligh, Dawat-e-Islami (both Pakistan-based), Saudi-funded World Muslim League, and Muslim Brotherhood-led organizations.
The preachers from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt roamed all over the US and Europe and made Islam the fastest growing religion. The Christian revivalists started vehemently opposing Muslim preachers that intricated immigration problems in Europe.
This drive of Islamic preaching was also successful because it filled the spiritual vacuum created with the rise of secular and liberal state institutions that discouraged the role of religion. It created a big rift between the two civilizations, Christianity and Islam.
On one hand, Muslims became more rigid and conservative (although not all-out radicals), the Church-led backlash against Muslims also became more vociferous. It is the reason behind today’s most of the issues that the Islamic civilization and the West is facing today.
Immigration Problems in Europe: The Way Forward
The debate on immigration problems in Europe is useless if there is no solution. The debtors and the scholars can sit and debate about the onus of this crisis in the West. The point is to make the debate more open and less rigid. A pluralist society of the West should get stained with the unjust and unfair treatment of Muslims.
Islam is a rising force but it is far from a substitute for Christianity or Christian civilization. Moreover, Muslims don’t comprise more than 5% of the European peninsula. Moreover, the strong and sustainable institutions of the Western countries are strong enough to bear the brunt of any kind of onslaught.
A civilization that can survive the two bloody World Wars, and become the beacon house for the remaining world is not so fragile to break into pieces because 4.9% of people of a different culture.
Therefore, it is a disrespect to the system and the civilization of the West to show nervousness or deliberately target Muslims. Doing this will stain the fabric of the magnanimous Western civilization.
Islamic civilization also needs to redefine itself according to the system of the 21st century rather than making literal and out-of-the-context explanations of the cherry-picked Qur’anic verses. It will only hurt the Islamic civilization and none else. Hence, both parties must act wisely to address the immigration problems in Europe.
To conclude, it is quite conspicuous that the issue of migrants in Europe is far from being solved. While Muslims are trying to create a separate identity and come up as a strong power that can influence the system of the West, the countries in this hemisphere are not treating Muslims the same way as it has done not long ago.
This is since the earlier migrant generations were not fundamentalists let alone religious. They adapted to the lifestyle of the local people and things went fine.
During that time, the Western economies were booming and Muslims along with the Westerns also explored and enjoyed the economic dividends. Then, the time tumultuous economic meltdown followed that hurt Muslims in particular.
Meanwhile, the immigrants kept on piling up who not only changed the demographics but also created a separate identity. The Christian revivalists opposed the coming of Muslims, creating serious immigration problems in Europe.
The information technology-led system made labor jobs redundant and skilled-based jobs became the stepping stone of success. Muslims were mainly illiterate and couldn’t get jobs in good sectors which damaged them a lot.
Now the second and the third generations have become fundamentalists and are somehow challenging the West. This is the reason that has drastically changed the attitude of Western countries towards Muslims.Share