An Islamic Journey Inside Europe

The following article originally appeared on Feb. 24-28, 2003 at this now rotted link . I have archived the text of the article because I originally linked to it from my post It`s the demographics, stupid:


Feb. 24-28, 2003-- The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, triggered an intense debate on how to integrate Muslims into European society. In Western Europe alone, there are 15 to 20 million Muslims. But while these people share a common religious belief, they form a multi-faceted mosaic of national origin and secular tradition.

In The Netherlands, many Muslim immigrants are struggling to become fuller partners in Dutch society. The same challenges confront large groups of Muslims of Turkish descent in Germany, North Africans in France and Pakistanis in Great Britain.

"What they share is a sense of exclusion," says NPR Senior European Correspondent Sylvia Poggioli. The children of those immigrants present a different challenge: many second- and third-generation Muslims born to secular European societies are re-examining both their identity as children of another land, and their religious beliefs.

According to the United Nations, Europe's Muslim population has doubled in the last decade, and an estimated half a million new immigrants -- most of the from Muslim nations -- arrive every year.

A traditionally Christian Europe is being challenged, more than any other region on the globe, to accommodate a new religious and cultural force. In some nations, an anti-Muslim backlash has helped to redraw the political map and give voice to neo-nationalist conservative movements. Even in nations know for their tolerance of other cultures, there's a struggle to communicate.

Some Muslims in Europe resist the call to assimilate into the culture of their new home. Many Muslims live in separate, parallel societies where poverty and rampant unemployment are further distancing Muslim youths from the mainstream life of their adopted homeland.

Below, a thumbnail sketch of each report in this series:

Part One: Regaining the Glory of Moorish Spain
Poggioli's series begins with a report on how Muslim immigrants are returning to Spain -- a land the Islamic Moors ruled for 700 years -- and the growing tensions between Muslims and Christians.
Monday, Feb. 24, 2003

Part Two: Legacy of an Empire
In Great Britain, the number of Muslims has more than doubled in the last 20 years. Poggioli examines the parallel but largely self-segregated societies of Muslims and Europeans in English cities.
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2003

Part Three: Boiling Point in the Banlieues
French Muslims of Algerian descent live packed into airless, isolated ghettoes ("banlieues") in the outskirts of Paris, where youth are embracing a new, more radical version of Islam.
Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2003

Part Four: Testing the Tolerance of the Dutch
The Netherlands has long been considered the most tolerant of European nations. But now, in a backlash against political correctness, the Dutch are reassessing their laissez-faire, multicultural immigration policy.
Thursday, Feb. 27, 2003

Part Five: A New Type of Islam
Islam is now the second-biggest religion in Europe, and several second- and third-generation Muslims are creating a new "flavor" of Islam -- one disconnected from the lands of their parents and grandparents, and more reflective of their adopted homelands.
Friday, Feb. 28, 2003