catallaxy files

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How well are the French handling their Muslim minorities?

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Here at Catallaxy we have argued against the French approach to ethnic and religious differences (Jason here, Rafe here, and me here; see also a useful summary of the situation in “Eurabia” in this week’s Economist).

Yet if the latest Pew Global Attitudes Research is right, France is doing relatively well in avoiding a descent in mass mutual acrimony. When asked if they had a favourable view of Muslims, just 29% of Spanish and 36% of German respondents said they did. In France, 65% had a positive view. In the Anglosphere, 54% of Americans and 63% of the British had favourable views.

What do Muslims think of other groups in Western society? Pew also sampled them, and here again the French do quite well. 91% of French Muslims have a favourable view of Christians, comfortably ahead of Spanish Muslims (82%), British Muslims (71%) and German Muslims (69%).

Perhaps more interesting, given the pervasive anti-Semitism of the Muslim world, is the attitude of European Muslims toward Jews. Here again, the French are clearly ahead. 71% of French Muslims have favourable views of Jews, compared to just 28% of Spanish Muslims, 32% of British Muslims, and 38% of German Muslims.

One thing we have to be careful with in these surveys, as I have argued before, is the difference between attitudes toward people and attitudes about behaviour. If people don’t believe in acting on prejudices then we have tolerance, the basic precondition of social peace. Unfortunately, on the one question about behaviour – on whether suicide bombings and other violence against civilian targets could be justified – French Muslims come undone. While 83% of German Muslims think such tactics are never justified, just 64% of French Muslims feel that way. Spanish Muslims were on 69% and British Muslims on 70%.

Dealing with minorities from illiberal cultures is always difficult. It is sometimes said that the American model has the advantage of economically integrating minorities; there it is hard to get welfare and relatively easy to get a job. But it is also relatively easy to get a job in Britain, and its Muslim minority has particularly bad attitudes. It is sometimes said that America’s over-the-top religious culture might help; there you can engage in loopy religion without feeling out of place. But as the The Economist points out, perhaps America is just lucky in the kinds of Muslims who live there, including black American converts with no family ties back to the Middle Eastern sources of Islamic political pathology.

But the Pew survey does suggest that, at the attitidunal level at least, French policies have not been the failure that many assume.

Written by Admin

June 24, 2006 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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