Arab Today, arab today robert leiken’s angry muslims
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Robert Leiken’s Angry Muslims

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Arab Today, arab today Robert Leiken’s Angry Muslims

New York - Arabstoday

To many westerners, European Muslims are a dangerous collection of angry activists, indoctrinated by jihadist leaders, trained in Al Qaeda camps, and now hiding in sleeper cells while they prepare more terrorist attacks like the London underground bombings of 2005. In Europe\'s Angry Muslims, Robert Leiken - an immigration expert at the US Center for the National Interest - sets out to see if there is any truth in this caricature. The book focuses on the second generation of immigrants in the continent\'s three countries with the biggest Muslim populations: France, Britain and Germany. The Muslim population of each has its own unique personality, derived partly from the immigrants\' place of origin and partly from the way the host country has dealt with its newcomers. The \"best\" situation - at least, according to Leiken, and at the time he wrote the book - had been in France, where Arabs, West Africans, North Africans and people from the Caribbean tend to be concentrated in dreary banlieue ghettos but where religious-based protests are almost nonexistent. After the book was published, a young Frenchman of Algerian ancestry murdered seven people in Toulouse, claiming to be inspired by Al Qaeda. Meanwhile, in the worst case - Britain - the stereotype appears, at least in Leiken\'s pages, closer to the truth. As Leiken writes, \"Violent jihad in Europe derives both from Inside (from inequality, racism, poverty and generational conflict) and from the Outside (from foreign sources, messengers and inspirations).\" The author undertakes impressive research, knocking on doors, peeking inside communities, digging into the archives, and tracing the history of Islamic migrations. France might be expected to suffer the worst problems, because of its relatively large number of Muslims (10 per cent of the population), its nationwide ban on wearing headscarves in schools, and lingering resentment from the Algerian war of independence. The immigrant banlieues are dreadful places to live, without malls or Metro stops. They are cut off from the more fashionable part of Paris by what Leiken calls \"unbridgeable chasms of highways\", and their housing projects are \"spectral towers of reinforced concrete\". As well, various government officials, including Nicolas Sarkozy, have found Islam-baiting to be politically useful - although how much it may have helped the French premier won\'t be known until next month\'s election runoff. It should be no surprise that riots broke out in the banlieues in October 2005 and continued for five months. Except that the rioters weren\'t rebelling against western culture. About 25 per cent were unemployed complaining about the lack of jobs, and more than one-third \"were minors, sometimes as young as 10, seeking thrills.\" Indeed, the leaders of the nation\'s main Islamic organisation, far from urging defiance against the headscarf ban, \"merely requested that the law be applied \'softly\'.\" As Leiken points out, \"the rioters were clothed in hooded sweatshirts\". Why wasn\'t there more religion-fuelled anger? Maybe because France\'s laïcité policy of a rigid and thorough separation of church and state - the same policy under which headscarves are banned - also steers immigrants into a channel of assimilation. In particular, the public schools have served as a melting pot, Leiken asserts. And the language and other skills learned in a heterogeneous school can offer the second generation (although probably not the first) the possibility of good jobs and entrance into the mainstream. \"The protesters were not raising the green banner of Islam,\" the author says, \"but demanding to come under the drapeau tricolore\" - the tricoloured French flag. Britain, by contrast, went to absurd lengths to prove its multicultural tolerance, granting political asylum to all sorts of violence-spouting preachers and even supporting them with generous benefits. (However, Leiken\'s argument is somewhat undermined by Britain\'s repeated efforts to jail and deport the radical Muslim cleric Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman, also known as Abu Qatada, who was rearrested earlier this month.)

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