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How has Christianity influenced the modern world? Thirdly, immigrant families congregated in certain areas where they could find informal support structures and social networks. Families could thus keep in constant contact with their home countries by phone, internet or travel.

The EU faces a daunting challenge, since defensive and protective policies in the Mediterranean did not succeed in deterring asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. Finally, in the last three decades, marriage immigration peaked as the first and second-generation youth entered the marriage market. To take just two examples from Holland, between and , Turkish marriage immigration peaked at 4.

Obviously, marriage immigration has maintained the migration dynamic intact. This significantly differentiates Muslim immigration to Europe with the Muslim expatriation in the USA on two grounds. Finally, the rate of mixed marriages in the USA is higher than in Europe. This differentiation explains, to a certain extent, why Islam and Muslims in the United States are not a major concern while in Europe, at least since the s, migration has become an issue, mainly because two-thirds of the migrants are Muslims. It is in this context that far-right parties emerged and started to garner support in presenting migration as a threat.

In reaction, Western European states began erecting new defences against the much mediatised threat of mass immigration by strengthening direct immigration control through severe visa regimes, internal surveillance and outsourcing border control on the external borders of the EU. But all cordons sanitaires put in place could not stop or even slow the flow of irregular migration from southern countries.

Churches and Identity in Central and Eastern Europe

The long land border and coastlines of many European states hindered the effective policing of frontiers. In many cases, land and maritime controls only served to displace the routes of migration, making the travel longer and riskier and making traffickers richer as they showed their ability to adapt to the new regulations.

Southern European countries were particularly exposed to irregular migration. But later, in the s, they became countries of final destination for waves of irregular migrants. But hundred of thousands made it. They lived in precarious situations, as illegals, irregulars or indocumentados , but over the years, they have been legalised, in what Spain has called regularizacion , and Italy, sanatoria.

In this respect, the case of Spain is emblematic as the number of asentados Moroccans, to take just one example, jumped from The same happened in Italy. Undoubtedly, restrictive visa regimes affected legal migration but triggered irregular migration. Externalised control of migration and detention camps have not discouraged migrants. It is, therefore, not surprising that today, there are more than one million Muslims in Spain and a similar figure in Italy.

The problem has become more acute recently with the substantial increase of asylum seekers from impoverished or devastated countries in the South, like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea and even the Gaza Strip. While the Mediterranean is being transformed into a cemetery of drowned dreams, European countries are bickering about the cost-sharing of land borders and coastline policing and about distributing asylum seekers among European states.


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Let us recognise that the challenge is daunting since defensive and protective policies in the Mediterranean did not succeed in deterring asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. European leaders found themselves caught between alarmed rejectionists, who invoke financial costs, security risks and social challenges and who ask for more muscular policies to stem the flow of mass immigration, and vocal refugee advocates, who posit the problem in terms of human dignity and the necessity to protect, recalling the example of Jordan and Lebanon, which are hosts to more than a million Syrian refugees each.

There is no doubt that the situation is difficult to manage. On the one hand, in face of the magnitude of the human tragedy, Europe cannot remain blind, deaf and with its arms crossed. On the other, it cannot leave its doors wide open to the misery of the world. This historical review clearly shows that through natural increase and new migration flows, in all their forms, the Muslim population is increasing rapidly in the European Union to the bewilderment of European states, caught off guard by the sheer numbers of refugees and asylum seekers.

One can easily bet that the anxieties which surround the migration issue will not vanish as long as neighbouring Muslim countries remain feverish and destabilised and as long as European Islam is constructed as a problem. In France alone, there are some From January to August , In this article, we shall deal only with Muslims of migrant origin in the European Union. They fall into three categories: a those who are registered as foreigners; b those who acquired the nationality of the country where they live and work; and, finally, c those who are native European.

On the whole, I estimate that there are some 23 million Muslims living in the 28 European states, three-quarters of whom are already European citizens by naturalisation or birth. To these numbers, we may add some 2 million Muslims who migrated illegally and have not yet been officially legalised. These numbers are not threatening. Right wing parties are not saying anything else.

Is there a reason for concern? For many Europeans, the answer is yes, not only because of the increasing number of Muslims in Europe, but also because Europeans greatly overestimate the share of Muslims in the total population. Some demographers are not less anxious. They recognise that the total Muslim population is projected to jump from 25 to 35 million between and They invoke both internal and external factors.

They also argue that Muslim women marry in larger numbers and at younger age and divorce less than their non-Muslim counterparts. To these internal factors, one must add net migration influx. As a matter of fact, current migration pressures are not caused exclusively by external push factors, such as poverty, conflict and repression. The current focus on push factors diverts attention away from significant pull factors, such as the very fact that the European countries are already hosts to significant immigrant or immigrant-origin populations, opening new channels for migration.

To this reality, one has to add travel accessibility, expanding international networks and the fact that there is still demand at the upper end of the labour market for highly qualified professionals, and at the lower end, there is demand for workers in unregulated sectors of the economy, which depend on a cheap and exploitable workforce to remain competitive. Clearly, migration pressures from Muslim and non Muslim countries will not diminish any time soon.

From the very beginning of labour migration, in the s and s, European states have adopted different policies with respect to managing their immigrants and integrating them. Some countries, like Germany, did little in the first decade to facilitate the integration of its migrants. The United Kingdom and the Netherlands embraced the notion of multiculturalism, by which the governments sought to maintain distinct cultural identities and customs. France, by contrast, professed a policy of assimilation by imposing its model of secularism.

The social unrest was almost concomitant with the terrorist attacks in Madrid and in London, serving as eye-openers and questioning old integration models. Whatever the model, the immigrants, as I said earlier, gathered in ethnic neighbourhoods, called banlieues , in France, and suburbs, in England. After the economic downturn of the s, and the closure of mines and factories, immigrants became the first to bear the brunt of the crisis. Although a large number of the rioters appeared to be Muslims, most observers agree that urban segregation and the lack of opportunity and upward social mobility were key factors behind the unrest.

The social unrest was almost concomitant with the deadly terrorist attacks in Madrid, in , and in London, in France had already suffered similar terrorist attacks in Holland and Denmark were not spared, with the assassination of filmmakers and cartoonists. These tragic events served as eye-openers. Old integration models came under attack. Multiculturalism in the UK and in Holland has been questioned, and gradually, the policy has been abandoned, and governments have stepped up their efforts to better integrate their Muslim communities.

Germany relaxed its naturalisation policy and allowed Turks and Kurds to acquire German nationality. Only France stuck to its secular model. Undoubtedly, in the last 15 years, the issue of migration and integration policies has dominated the political and intellectual debate, with two questions gaining particular momentum: Are European Muslims discriminated and segregated? And, if so, should the European states be held responsible? As the bulk of Muslims are labour immigrants or native-born of immigrant origin, they are poorer than the national average, and they often live in segregated neighbourhoods.

However, it is also true that poverty is often linked to poor parental control, dropping out of school and the lack of opportunities. In addition, there was an alarming development in the s. The migrants, whose problems were seen as a consequence of their socio-economic status during the preceding decades, started to be perceived as culturally different. The apparent failure to integrate has been viewed in cultural terms, that is, as failure to adapt to European culture and to adopt European norms, values and styles. In other words, Muslims do not integrate because they are Muslims, and Islam is perceived as incompatible with Western culture and values.

Thus, it is no surprise that Islam has been constructed as a problem. This shift in perception is synchronic with the advent, since , of the so-called Islamic revival. However, there is no one Muslim community in Europe; this is a fantasy. Muslims come from different countries, live in different countries and speak different languages.

They are immensely divided in their faith, in their ethnicity and also in their relation to religious practice and to the role religion plays in their lives. It is therefore erroneous to remove the migrant from his own condition. A migrant born to Algerian migrant parents with French nationality is first of all French. So why should we encage him in a Muslim community supposedly closed and fixed forever?

Speaking constantly of Muslim community means that Islam eclipses the individual Muslim as the presumed actor of social and political change. Such a postulate is both erroneous and dangerous, not only because Islam assumes the role of an internal enemy in a societal cold war between European societies and their Muslims, but also because the integration issue is disconnected from the socio-economic context and becomes the sole responsibility of Muslims. Happily enough, many Muslims are fighting their way into European societies and gradually integrating their norms.

Why south-eastern Europe?

Many success stories of Muslims in all sectors, from economy to culture, provide ample proof that there is no Muslim fatality. Muslims with higher education and higher wages—like the Unfortunately, the bulk of Muslims in Europe are labour migrants or sons of labour migrants who are badly equipped to better integrate into European societies, not because of Islam, but because of their socio-economic condition.

Should we, therefore, incriminate official policies for the lack of integration? I believe so, to a certain extent. There have been shortcomings and even failures in France and elsewhere. Urban policies have been inadequate. Employment incentives have been limited and job discrimination insufficiently addressed.

All of these shortcomings are now under review, and measures are being taken, unfortunately, up until now, with scarce results. But thorny questions have to be raised: How does a native European Muslim become radicalised? The assertion that Islam is the religion of the sword, and that other religions, such as Christianity, Judaism or even Buddism, are religions of peace is grossly misleading. Why, then, does a tiny minority of Muslim European youth engage in violence? Answers tend to differ significantly. One school of thought adopts a culturalist view, which links terrorism, jihadism and extremism to the Islamic religion itself.

Atrocities occurred on all sides. Serbia, led by President Slobodan Milosevic , invaded several of its neighbors to seize lands where fellow Serbians lived. The Serbians mostly Orthodox Christians drove Croatians mostly Roman Catholics , Muslims, ethnic Albanians, and other ethnic groups from the seized territories. This policy of "ethnic cleansing" included the torture, mutilation, and murder of tens of thousands of civilians.

Today, international peacekeepers patrol the bloodied land. President Milosevic is currently on trial for war crimes before an international court. In other Eastern European nations, minorities struggle to preserve their ethnic identities. Ukrainians in Poland, Hungarians in Romania, Muslim Turks in Bulgaria, Roma Gypsies in several countries, and many others continue to face prejudice, discrimination, and sometimes violence.

The dilemma of ethnic minorities in Eastern Europe involves their desire to hold on to their separate ways, while those in the majority usually pressure them to adopt the national culture and language.

Eastern Europe’s Christian Reawakening

In extreme cases, conflict between ethnic minorities and majorities have resulted in "ethnic cleansing" or civil war. Moldova emerged as an independent nation following the breakup of the Soviet Union in It is a small, landlocked country, surrounded by Romania and Ukraine. Originally populated by Romanian peasants, Moldova has a long history of foreign domination.

Turkey, Russia, Austria, and Romania have all invaded it, controlled it, lost it, and reconquered it. Romania ended up occupying Moldova until Soviet troops recaptured it in About 65 percent of the people are ethnic Moldovans, speaking a native language nearly identical to Romanian. Many Moldovans also speak Russian, which the schools teach as a second language. There are two major ethnic minorities: Ukrainians 14 percent and Russians 13 percent. They are Russian speakers; few of them speak Moldovan.

Moldovan nationalists deeply resented the Russia speakers because of the long history of Russian domination. Even before Moldova declared its independence in , nationalists demanded a law that would make Moldovan the official language of the country. Some nationalists even wanted to unite Moldova with Romania. Alarmed, the Russian-speaking minorities argued for making both Moldovan and Russian the official languages of the nation. The nationalists rejected this proposal. In the late s, Moldovan nationalists began a bitter campaign against the Russian minority. The nationalists blamed all the country's problems on the Russians and resented their dominant status in Moldova's communist government and economy.

The nationalists called them "occupiers" and "migrants" who should have no role in deciding the future of Moldova. In August , the Moldovan communist parliament approved an official language law over the objections of the Russian-speaking minority members. Under the law, all political leaders, government workers, and many others had to pass a Moldovan language test within five years in order to hold their jobs. Although the law exempted some people such as factory workers , the Russian and Ukrainian minorities still viewed it as an insulting attempt to make them second-class citizens.

Moldovan nationalists in parliament continued to pass laws and take steps that discriminated against those who spoke only Russian. An attempt to form a union with Romania failed, but the nationalist parliament did vote to replace the Soviet-style Moldovan flag. It chose a tricolor flag identical to that of Romania. Later, a crest was added to this flag.

Transnistria is a small region in Moldova between the Dniester River and the border with Ukraine. In this region, Russian speakers are in the majority. In April , several cities in Transnistria refused to raise the new Moldovan flag. This provoked Moldovan nationalists to stage a march to raise the flag themselves. With the support of Soviet troops stationed in the area, however, Transnistrian armed volunteers stopped the march.

The leaders of the Russian-speaking Transnistrians, along with the local media, emotionally played on the fears of their people. In numerous speeches and newspaper articles, the leaders claimed that the Moldovans wanted to force the Russian and Ukrainian minorities to abandon their language and ethnic identity. The leaders also spread the rumor that Moldova would soon be a part of Romania, even though the Moldovan parliament had rejected unification.

The Transnistrian leaders proved to be as single-minded as the Moldovan nationalists. Both sides believed compromise to be a weakness and force a virtue. In September , a Transnistrian provisional parliament declared independence and proclaimed the "Dniester Republic. Moldova still technically part of the Soviet Union then declared a state of emergency to suppress the separatist rebellion.

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The separatists in Transnistria formed armed volunteer militias to take control of the region. They succeeded in winning a series of clashes, mainly against police units loyal to Moldova. Soviet troops plus military and financial aid from Moscow made the rebel takeover of Transnistria possible.


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After the death of about 1, fighters, a cease-fire agreement ended the short civil war in June By this time, Moldova had become an independent nation. Both sides signed a peace agreement to normalize relations in The separatists are now demanding a confederation of two equal nations, consisting of Moldova and the Dniester Republic. The Moldovans have rejected this arrangement.