ND ReSource: Anti-Muslim tensions in Europe require context

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What appear to be growing anti-Muslim feelings in some European countries must be considered within the larger context of immigration in general in order to be fully understood, according to Anthony Messina, a University of Notre Dame political scientist who studies the politics of ethnicity, race and immigration inWestern Europe.

Recent moves by countries historically welcoming to immigrants – such as last weeks announcement by the Dutch government that it would outlaw burqas – mark a shift to right-wing attitudes toward immigrants that is spreading acrossEurope.

The core conflict withinEuropeis not between Muslims and Christians,saysMessina,but rather between some Muslims and the state.

Debates about the limits of tolerance and assimilation versus multiculturalism are playing into the hands of right-wing political parties in several countries, includingFrance,GermanyandBritain.

To the extent that immigrant Muslim and so-called native populations are in tension, this mostly results from the clash between the devout religiosity of the former and the secularity of the latter,Messinasaid.

The instability and insecurity caused by rising unemployment acrossEuropealso produces a sense of loss of national identity that is fed by growing immigrant populations, regardless of ethnic background.

The conflict arising from Muslim immigration has to be considered as an extension of the conflict over immigration in general, including non-Muslim immigration,Messinasaid.

* Contact: * _Anthony Messina is an associate professor of political science and author ofWest Europe: Immigration and Immigrant Policy in the New Century.He is available for interviews and can be contacted at: amessina@nd.edu or 574-631-3968.

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