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Author Topic: Causes of antiislamism in the West  (Read 5798 times)
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« Reply #25 on: March 18, 2012, 12:34:13 am »
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Obviously general bigotry is a part of it. But I think the reaction of Westerners to Muslims has been substantially different to their reaction towards other non-Western immigrant communities.

9/11 is part of it. And to an extent in might be class based- East Asian and Hindu immigrants tend to be relatively wealthy. But even before 9/11 the difference existed... and the reaction to Muslims has been different to the reaction towards other working class immigrants such as Mexicans in America and Black Africans in Britain. It also bears noting that India and China have substantially tenser relations with Muslims then do their other religious minorities.

I see two probable explanations for this. Firstly Muslims seem to be a rather assertive culture, I would describe them as an "alpha culture" were as the Westerners became a "beta culture" over the course of the last century. Secondly Muslims are a lot more distinctive then other significant cultural blocs- Buddhists and Christians tend to blend in pretty well into their host culture, whereas Islam isn't just a religion but a way of life and necessarily resists blending in a whole lot more.

I think its interesting to note that Americans are more paranoid about Muslims then Hispanics, despite the former being a tiny presence and the latter being set to become a plurality of nation. I think my two explanations more or less sum up why.
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« Reply #26 on: March 18, 2012, 03:22:13 am »
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It's generalized hatred of a vague other, since most people haven't ever seen one of them in the flesh.

Lol. Maybe that is true of the US, but hardly in Europe. In Sweden I imagine pretty much everyone who lives in a city must have seen plenty of Muslims.

There are a multitude of reasons. Fundamentally, a lot of people have negative experiences with Muslim immigrants.

There's partly general xenophobia, partly the socio-economic conditions that result from rigid labour markets. But there are also cultural issues. When Muslims demand to set up their own parallell legal structure with sharia law (like the main organization has in Sweden, for example) or when the many incidents with things like honour killings or demands for tolerance of intolerance float about, a lot of people in the West are put off.

I also think there is a general backlash effect against the taboos surrounding immigration and Islam in general (at least here, probably not in more openly racist countries on the continent).
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« Reply #27 on: March 18, 2012, 09:33:22 am »
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There are a multitude of reasons. Fundamentally, a lot of people have negative experiences with Muslim immigrants.

But that doesn't really explain anything because everyone has had negative experiences with people from the majority community as well.
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« Reply #28 on: March 18, 2012, 10:00:29 am »
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There are a multitude of reasons. Fundamentally, a lot of people have negative experiences with Muslim immigrants.

But that doesn't really explain anything because everyone has had negative experiences with people from the majority community as well.

Haha, yes, but most people obviously have had a lot of positive experiences with the majority community as well. In Stockholm (and here I am obviously exaggerating and generalizing quite a lot) most Muslim immigrants live in what are basically poor ghettos surrounding the city. These areas have nothing that would make anyone from the city ever go there. Since many are either old, young or unemployed not that many come into the city either. So, those you do see tend to very disproportionately be gangs of young men coming into town to have fun. And running into gangs of young men is often a negative experience.

And in schools there is a strong tendency to form ethnic gangs as well.

I myself got punched in the face once by such a guy. Of course, many of my best friends are Muslims and all that so it didn't make me a Sweden Democrat but I don't think it is an uncommon process for many others. In the especially bad areas where they attack the police and even the fire brigade the impression that most other people will have will obviously become rather negative.
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« Reply #29 on: March 18, 2012, 10:08:07 am »
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Haha, yes, but most people obviously have had a lot of positive experiences with the majority community as well. In Stockholm (and here I am obviously exaggerating and generalizing quite a lot) most Muslim immigrants live in what are basically poor ghettos surrounding the city. These areas have nothing that would make anyone from the city ever go there. Since many are either old, young or unemployed not that many come into the city either. So, those you do see tend to very disproportionately be gangs of young men coming into town to have fun. And running into gangs of young men is often a negative experience.

So what you're saying is that most people don't have many positive experiences of Muslim 'immigrants' because mostly they don't have any actual experiences of them as anything other than 'people who are not like us'. Which isn't so far off Xahar's argument, really.
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« Reply #30 on: March 18, 2012, 11:08:03 am »
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I would assume that Islamic terrorism and killing of US soldiers plays a bigger part in the rise of US anti-Islamism.

I believe you assume correctly, sir.
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« Reply #31 on: March 18, 2012, 12:42:06 pm »
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I was referring to the United States; should have made that clearer. As I gather, in Europe it's much more similar to the American experience with blacks or Hispanics.
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« Reply #32 on: March 18, 2012, 01:03:43 pm »
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Haha, yes, but most people obviously have had a lot of positive experiences with the majority community as well. In Stockholm (and here I am obviously exaggerating and generalizing quite a lot) most Muslim immigrants live in what are basically poor ghettos surrounding the city. These areas have nothing that would make anyone from the city ever go there. Since many are either old, young or unemployed not that many come into the city either. So, those you do see tend to very disproportionately be gangs of young men coming into town to have fun. And running into gangs of young men is often a negative experience.

So what you're saying is that most people don't have many positive experiences of Muslim 'immigrants' because mostly they don't have any actual experiences of them as anything other than 'people who are not like us'. Which isn't so far off Xahar's argument, really.

I think the difference is that what I'm talking about is linked to real problems. Immigrant groups that aren't living in isolated ghettos and don't have high unemployment rates naturally meet people in normal settings a lot more often.

It's always hard to have this kind of discussion without accusations of racism being thrown about, but I think there are a number of tangible problems with muslim immigration that contribute to islamophobia in Europe (and, no, it's not exclusively muslim immigration, it's just the main migration flows here happen to be from pre-dominantly muslim countries). That doesn't justify it or anything, but I do believe some of these root causes need to be adressed.
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« Reply #33 on: March 18, 2012, 01:04:28 pm »
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I was referring to the United States; should have made that clearer. As I gather, in Europe it's much more similar to the American experience with blacks or Hispanics.

Yeah, I think the analogy with blacks in the US is fairly decent.
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« Reply #34 on: March 18, 2012, 01:33:34 pm »
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There's the big difference that anybody who grew up urbane and was born before, oh, 1993 or so, will remember a time, if he is not actively trying not to as a lot of people seem to be, when "muslim" had nothing whatsoever to do with it but the stereotypes and problems were otherwise quite identical.
Which tells you all you really need to know about "antiislamism".
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« Reply #35 on: March 18, 2012, 05:45:51 pm »
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There's the big difference that anybody who grew up urbane and was born before, oh, 1993 or so, will remember a time, if he is not actively trying not to as a lot of people seem to be, when "muslim" had nothing whatsoever to do with it but the stereotypes and problems were otherwise quite identical.
Which tells you all you really need to know about "antiislamism".


Ok, I fit those criteria and I think I know what you mean. I believe the closest translation of the Swedish term would be "blackhead"

Of course, they WERE muslim to a large extent back then as well. And perhaps more importantly it was much less of an issue, at least as far as I can recall. At least in Sweden, xenophobia in general is a lot higher now.

Generally a lot of things, like 9/11 but not just that, has made people a lot more aware of islam  as a phenomenon and obviously most of this awareness has been in connection with negative stuff.
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« Reply #36 on: March 18, 2012, 06:42:24 pm »
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First of all, I think the OP should change the term he is using to 'anti-muslim'....'Islamism' is an interpretation of Islam that, frankly, every decent person should have negative regard towards.

As for why anti-Muslim sentiment is rising, there are two:

Islam breeds more terrorist movements than other religions, especially terrorist movements explicitly (and loudly) justified on the basis of religious dogma and goals, due to the jihad doctrine (which terrorists interprete much more broadly than most Muslims, but which facilitates the promotion of violent communal responses to percieved injustices).

A distressingly huge proportion of global Muslims* adhere (in varying degrees) to Islamist interpretations of Islam, promoting mandatory shariah law and opposing freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and equality under the law (the basic, fundamental rights from which all other rights are conceptually derived are exactly those rights which are the most taboo under an Islamist worldview).

*this is much less the case in the United States than it is in Europe, much less majority-Muslim nations, but a reticence on the part of American Muslims to acknowledge the sheer depth of the global problem and explicitly separate themselves from illiberal theological elements (such as by creating readily identifiable 'liberal' Islamic groups and identifying themselves with them, much like the Protestant churches have historically distinguished themselves from alternate Christian groups) negatively affects public perceptions.
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« Reply #37 on: March 19, 2012, 07:34:25 am »
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Just today the headline in Sweden's largest newspaper concerns so-called honour crimes. I should start with the caveats that a) the media reporting has its problems and b) I'm well aware that honour crimes are a product of the Middle East culture rather than of the islam religion.

The articles relates a couple of stories. Sara from northern Iraq was 15 when social services took her away from her family (her father had beaten her because he suspected she had a boyfriend). After a week 4 men armed with axes and guns arrived and abducted her from where she was placed and she's been gone ever since.

Fatima who was 19 was almost killed by her father and had to be hospitalized, again based on the suspicion that she might have a boyfriend. She was later sent by her family back to Iraq to marry her 30-year old cousin who prohibited her from reading. The last that was heard of her was a message where she said she was being raped every night.

And so on. Now, before the PC brigade jumps in, of course I am well aware that these stories are not representative of Muslims in general. In Sweden, however, the vast majority of Muslims  immigrants come from countries like Iraq, Turkey and Somalia (with those from the first 2 countries very often being Kurds). Within those groups these issues are quite real - Sweden's most well known Kurdish politician (who is the chairwoman of the Social Democratic Women's organization) moved out of one of the immigrant-heavy suburbs with precisely the motivation that the dominant view of women there created a bad environment for her children.

And, as with all things, there won't be that many news stories about all the normal Muslim families who don't have bizarre attitudes towards their daughters.

I think that plays a fairly large part in anti-muslim sentiment in Sweden. Especially because the establishment discourse wasted a lot of time trying to deny this as being a problem.
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« Reply #38 on: March 19, 2012, 01:34:18 pm »
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It's generalized hatred of a vague other, since most people haven't ever seen one of them in the flesh.
Sorry, but I'm a bit an antiislamist after I saw this:
http://ottenki-serogo.livejournal.com/191194.html
IN A F^^^KING CHRISTIAN CITY.


Moscow is Christian in the same way that Stockholm is Christian (hint: they're both not Christian).
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« Reply #39 on: March 19, 2012, 01:42:28 pm »
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Anti-Islamism seems to be on the rise in the US. All though it is probably not yet on European level.
What do you think are the main causes for the growth in anti-islamism?

In my country it is:

1. Perceived Muslim hypocrisy: Muslims wanting equal rights but many of them claiming women are inferior to men and  harassing  gays and Jews.

2. Pesky "un-Scandinavian" macho attitudes

3. High crime rate/ gang activity

4. Many Muslims on welfare + cheating with welfare and/or taxes

I would assume that Islamic terrorism and killing of US soldiers plays a bigger part in the rise of US anti-Islamism.

Historically Europeans are more anti-Muslim than US people are not for the reasons you mention, but for the reason that the United States hasn't existed for very long.  Anti-Islam started in the Medieval period in Europe (and earlier in the Middle East), although the word Islamophobia doesn't show up till about one hundred years ago.  The Crusades were probably exploitative mini-culminations rather than causes.  Throughout the Renaissance and Age of Enlightenment there are many critical references to Islam.  Muhammad figures very negatively in Dante's works.  Even well-respected writers like David Hume impugn Muslims.  It has long been a part of European history and tradition to isolate, and sometimes murder, Muslims.  

The US didn't exist for most of that period, and when it did come into existence, with the ratification of the US Constitution in 1787, a defining characteristic of the United States was the right to free exercise of religion.  To the extent that anti-Islamic feeling does exist, it has more to do with very recent history:  hijacking of planes by Islamists starting in the 1970s as a response to US policy regarding Israel.  About this aspect I think you're right.  Over the past four decades we have increasingly associated Islam with terrorism.  I imagine that eventually we'll have our own version of Tomás de Torquemada.  Such well-fermented bigotries take time.  US culture, being relatively young, simply hasn't been around long enough to develop them.


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« Reply #40 on: March 19, 2012, 01:54:04 pm »
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It's generalized hatred of a vague other, since most people haven't ever seen one of them in the flesh.
Sorry, but I'm a bit an antiislamist after I saw this:
http://ottenki-serogo.livejournal.com/191194.html
IN A F^^^KING CHRISTIAN CITY.


Moscow is Christian in the same way that Stockholm is Christian (hint: they're both not Christian).
They are culturally and historically Christian cities. Which is what matters most in this context.
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« Reply #41 on: March 19, 2012, 02:08:54 pm »
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Anti-Islamism seems to be on the rise in the US. All though it is probably not yet on European level.
What do you think are the main causes for the growth in anti-islamism?

In my country it is:

1. Perceived Muslim hypocrisy: Muslims wanting equal rights but many of them claiming women are inferior to men and harassing gays and Jews.

2. Pesky "un-Scandinavian" macho attitudes

3. High crime rate/ gang activity

4. Many Muslims on welfare + cheating with welfare and/or taxes

I would assume that Islamic terrorism and killing of US soldiers plays a bigger part in the rise of US anti-Islamism.

Historically Europeans are more anti-Muslim than US people are not for the reasons you mention, but for the reason that the United States hasn't existed for very long.  Anti-Islam started in the Medieval period in Europe (earlier in the Middle East) , although the word Islamophobia doesn't show up till about one hundred years ago.  The Crusades were probably a mini-culmination rather than a cause.  Throughout the Renaissance and Age of Enlightenment there are critical references to Islam. Muhammad figures very negatively in Dante's works. Even well-respected writers like David Hume impugn Muslims. It has long been a part of European history and tradition to isolate, and sometimes murder, Muslims.  

Yes. Islam is historically the arch enemy of Christian Europe. Every 10th coat of arms in the Hungarian nobility includes the chopped of head of a Turk etc. But I don't think this legacy is that relevant today. As I wrote the Muslim macho culture, opposition to the liberal dogma of equal rights for all and failure to integrate in the labour market are the main causes in Denmark (this is also true for the rest of Northern Europe IMO). Those are all modern causes unrelated to history. Most European societies are highly secularized today and the knowledge of history is rather sparse in Western Europe (this is of course very different in the Balkans).
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« Reply #42 on: March 19, 2012, 02:16:04 pm »
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It's generalized hatred of a vague other, since most people haven't ever seen one of them in the flesh.
Sorry, but I'm a bit an antiislamist after I saw this:
http://ottenki-serogo.livejournal.com/191194.html
IN A F^^^KING CHRISTIAN CITY.


Moscow is Christian in the same way that Stockholm is Christian (hint: they're both not Christian).
They are culturally and historically Christian cities. Which is what matters most in this context.

Sorry but I'm a bit of an anti-Christian after seeing this:


IN A F^^KING PAGAN CITY!

Historically, it does not matter what Moscow and Stockholm were. It matters that we're supposed to be living in secular, tolerant societies that allow people to peaceably worship whoever they want in public. If you have a problem with this, you're a probably a bigot or a fundamentalist.
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« Reply #43 on: March 19, 2012, 02:24:02 pm »
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Yes. Islam is historically the arch enemy of Christian Europe. Every 10th coat of arms in the Hungarian nobility includes the chopped of head of a Turk etc. But I don't think this legacy is that relevant today. As I wrote the Muslim macho culture, opposition to the liberal dogma of equal rights for all and failure to integrate in the labour market are the main causes in Denmark (this is also true for the rest of Northern Europe IMO). Those are all modern causes unrelated to history. Most European societies are highly secularized today and the knowledge of history is rather sparse in Western Europe (this is of course very different in the Balkans).

I don't think you can ignore a millenium of history when considering these things.

Moreover, your comments may be very specific to Denmark.  Take cities with huge numbers of Muslims, such as Marseilles or Brussels, for example.  Very clearly the politicians use ethnicity as a motivator, especially those of the National Front and parties like it.  Similarly, there have long been anti-Turk sentiments in Germany.  Sure, much of it is practical, and for the reasons you mention (welfare abuse, crime, etc.), but much of it is simply historical.  It may also have to do with a desegration.  Muslims in many cities (e.g., Paris), are concentrated in various suburbs, and even second- and third-generation French-born citizens of North African descent are viewed as others, despite the official French tradition of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

The US simply doesn't have a thousand-year history telling it what to do.  Everything we try is new (and a number of our really good ideas were co-opted and improved upon by northern European societies).  I would venture a guess that even more ancient societies have even more ancient prejudices.  The Chinese, when they are allowed to speak freely, don't have much good to say about Muslims either, but they have a government structure that allows them to move large numbers of people into the provinces that were historically Muslim, and even to hold Muslim leaders without charge if necessary, in order to dilute the political strength of Muslims in those provinces, so you never see tensions coming to the foreground the way you see them in European cities.
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« Reply #44 on: March 19, 2012, 02:34:38 pm »
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In all seriousness how could one not be 'anti-islamist' and be a westerner?   
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« Reply #45 on: March 19, 2012, 02:46:28 pm »
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There's something else:  familiarity breeds contempt.  I was thinking about this and I found a table of European countries in order of percent Muslim population.  Ignoring the three with a majority Muslim population (Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, and Kosovo), the top ten are something like this:

Macedonia [33%], Montenegro [17%], Bulgaria [15%], Cyprus [22%], Georgia [12%], Russia [12%]. Belgium [6%], France [5.8%], Switzerland [5.7%], and Austria [5.7%].

I bet if you could come up with some list of Islamophobia-inspired tensions, and control for economic factors, you'd find a nice correlation between those and percent Muslim populations.  I haven't found such a clean list yet, but I'll search a bit.

By contrast, not many US regions have such large numbers.  From the US Census bureau, the 10 states with the largest Muslim populations are California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia, Texas, Ohio, and Maryland.  But that's a tricky thing, because you'd have to divide by population to get percentages, and the ten most concentrated may not be in this list.  

I did find that Dearborn, Michigan had the most Muslims, by percent, among US cities, and in that city, according to Zogby, Muslims claim not to feel isolated.  In fact, more generally, Zogby states that "Unlike Muslims in Europe, American Muslims do not tend to feel marginalized..."   Pew research has similar findings.

See here:  http://pewresearch.org/assets/pdf/muslim-americans.pdf

Of course, none of this answers your question.  In fact, it only raises new ones.  I still claim that the long arc of history provides us the easiest and most tangible answer, and in the spirit of Occam's Razor, I suggest that we at least consider it before dismissing it as irrelevant today.

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« Reply #46 on: March 19, 2012, 03:09:45 pm »
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There's something else: familiarity breeds contempt.  I was thinking about this and I found a table of European countries in order of percent Muslim population. Ignoring the three with a majority Muslim population (Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, and Kosovo), the top ten are something like this:

Macedonia [33%], Montenegro [17%], Bulgaria [15%], Cyprus [22%], Georgia [12%], Russia [12%]. Belgium [6%], France [5.8%], Switzerland [5.7%], and Austria [5.7%].

I bet if you could come up with some list of Islamophobia-inspired tensions, and control for economic factors, you'd find a nice correlation between those and percent Muslim populations.  I haven't found such a clean list yet, but I'll search a bit.
Sounds logical, and more relevant than the history thesis. Good luck with your search.

I still claim that the long arc of history provides us the easiest and most tangible answer, and in the spirit of Occam's Razor, I suggest that we at least consider it before dismissing it as irrelevant today.
I am not dismissing it completely. Just sceptical because of the lack of historical knowledge and consciousness in Western Europe. Most people have some vague notion about the crusades, but thats it. In many parts of Europe we never encountered Muslims before the 60s. They were not really on our mental map before that. Therefore no real historical legacy. It exists in Central and Eastern Europe but not really in most of the West. An old colonial power like France is slightly different. But still economic and social factors seems to be much more logical explanations.
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« Reply #47 on: March 19, 2012, 03:15:47 pm »
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It's generalized hatred of a vague other, since most people haven't ever seen one of them in the flesh.
Sorry, but I'm a bit an antiislamist after I saw this:
http://ottenki-serogo.livejournal.com/191194.html
IN A F^^^KING CHRISTIAN CITY.


Moscow is Christian in the same way that Stockholm is Christian (hint: they're both not Christian).
They are culturally and historically Christian cities. Which is what matters most in this context.

Sorry but I'm a bit of an anti-Christian after seeing this:


IN A F^^KING PAGAN CITY!

Historically, it does not matter what Moscow and Stockholm were. It matters that we're supposed to be living in secular, tolerant societies that allow people to peaceably worship whoever they want in public. If you have a problem with this, you're a probably a bigot or a fundamentalist.
I am all for freedom of religion. Just objecting to you saying they are not Christian cities.
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« Reply #48 on: March 19, 2012, 06:15:16 pm »
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Angus, I think you might have a point with certain parts, like Eastern Europe but I don't think it's very valid for a country like Sweden. Muslims weren't very important to us until rather recently.
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« Reply #49 on: March 19, 2012, 06:30:41 pm »
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I did find that Dearborn, Michigan had the most Muslims, by percent, among US cities, and in that city, according to Zogby, Muslims claim not to feel isolated.  In fact, more generally, Zogby states that "Unlike Muslims in Europe, American Muslims do not tend to feel marginalized..."   Pew research has similar findings.

That's mostly because Muslim immigrants to the United States are much richer than European Muslims.
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