Arab World

Arab-Muslims and the Future of Europe

Migration has written the history of humanity. Social, political and economic development and growth couldn't have happened without this exchange of ideas, people and financial resources. All the great moments of history correspond to population movements from peripheral areas to central areas of intellectual, artistic, commercial, political and economic power.  These 'crowded places', these 'melting pots', provided, and still provide, an essential and valuable force in terms of creativity, competition and entrepreneurship.  However, despite the evidences, migration issues have become a major topic worldwide given the wide array of problems attached to this multifaceted phenomenon, although, beyond this complexity, there is a common denominator: human beings.

Islam is not a new religion in Europe. Its historic presence and legacy is evident and in many European areas its material and cultural representation is easily traceable (Sicily, Southern France or Spain for instance). Among others, Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina gather within their borders a very high percentage of native Muslims. Moreover, over the last decades, thru migration, many Muslims coming from ex-colonies –mainly from the Maghreb- have been settled and new generations are fully-fledged European citizens.

It is very difficult to establish reliable data regarding the presence of Muslims in Europe. This happens because according to European laws, should not be allowed gathering data in order to create census of citizens depending on their faith. Beyond these methodological restrictions it might be possible to sketch roughly the numbers of Muslims in Europe. By far, France is the first European country in terms of Muslim population (10%); The Netherlands (4,6%); Austria (4%); Belgium (3,7%); Sweden (3,1%); Denmark (2,8%); United Kingdom (2,5%); Spain (1-2,5%); Italy (1,2%); Greece (3,5%). New EU state members have a small Muslim population with the exception of Slovenia (1,55%). It is obvious that this classification would change dramatically with a hypothetical accession of Turkey (70 million inhabitants, 99% Muslims), Albania (70%) or Bosnia-Herzegovina (60%).
Obviously these figures have an importance and they are at the root of the challenges that European governments have to deal with. Policing these changes is much more a question of adding with creativityrather than an issue to be frightened about. Moreover, globalization processes backed by the development of new technologies are pushing the boundaries of how people are getting in contact and understanding the present world.
The idea of migration has been substituted already by the concept of mobility, from a physical and a psychological point of view.The concept of nation-state linked to an old fashioned  “one language-one faith-one identity” should be transformed, reinterpreted and adapted to the new reality. Of course, this “new social contract” implies a collective effort driven by an intelligent and responsible political class. Betting for the opposite, would be betting for unbalancing societies, for creating conflicts.
 Most of migrants follow regular channels for arriving to European countries. Islam is not a conflictive religion. This argument used irresponsible by some political parties does not have any scientific support. Beyond the religious issue or excuse, any public policy designed to put aside minorities from public debate would lead toviolent outcomes within the medium or long run. In the current century, European countries should think in terms of togetherness instead of stressing a discourse slanted towards the configuration of disarticulated societies based on ethnic or religious origins. In that sense, Arab-Muslims in Europe are a huge resource for the economic competitiveness, social balance and multicultural and linguistic strengthening.


pdf Slamming Doors. Migration, Development and Policy Coherence in the Mediterranean.

pdf Connectivity and Social Change in Migratory Contexts: Focus on North Africa.

pdf Global Economic Crisis and Migration: Focus on North Africa.

pdf Political Communication and the Raising of Islamophobia: The Swiss Case.

pdf Reassessing the Migration/Mobility-Security Nexus in the Mediterranean. (Presented at the NATO on october 2010).

- "Migration, Development and Diplomacy: Perspectives from the Southern Mediterranean" - Africa World Press, Trenton, New Jersey, USA. By Ivan Ureta.
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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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