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Immigration and Multiculturalism
 

Is Immigration Good News?

One of the biggest issues facing Western Europe in the years ahead could be immigration. It is an issue that could easily be mishandled politically.

People in Western Europe are failing to reproduce fast enough to create a generation of youngsters who can look after them when they grow old. It is therefore in their own interest to let in more immigrants, argues a paper published by a major investment bank.

On the other hand, anti-immigrant sentiment is on the rise in Britain, as it is elsewhere in Europe. In 1995, 65% of British citizens surveyed wanted to reduce the number of immigrants; by 2003 that number had increased to 74%. Some 39% of those surveyed link immigration to increased crime, and 64% think the government spends too much money helping immigrants.

Is Multiculturalism In Europe Good News?

In the U.S., the ideal of the cultural "melting pot" has allowed ethnic communities to flourish without preventing immigrants from regarding themselves as true Americans. But the same sort of multiculturalism has been less successful in Europe, where small nations that have for centuries been defined by distinct languages, customs and cultures now feel besieged by fast-growing ethnic populations. Several countries find themselves with large immigrant ghettos for the first time. In Sweden, for example, about 15% of the country's 9 million people are immigrants, many of them concentrated in mainly Muslim areas inhabited by Kurds, Iranians, Iraqis and Somalis. What does it mean to be European when, say, a Swede may speak Kurdish at home, Arabic with friends and Swedish at work? "Traditionally, a European is just a citizen from a European state," says Carl Devos, a professor of political science at Belgium's Ghent University. "But there's a more philosophical discussion going on about European values. The fact that [second-generation Muslims] are still thought of as immigrants means we have a big, big problem. They're born here. They pay their taxes. They speak the languages. They are not guests in the European house; they're co-owners."


What do you think of these contradictory quotations?


Link to the BBC on Muslims in Europe: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4385768.stm

Link to the BBC on "Is Islam Compatible With the West?: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4204820.stm


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