Islam and the Failure of Multiculturalism

There is good and bad multiculturalism. The good kind aims for diversity amidst unity. That is, it seeks for common social values, and encourages newcomers to assimilate, integrate and affirm the core values of the host country. The bad kind is when separatism, division and ghetto-isation takes place.

The latter has by and large been the European experience, especially with its huge Muslim immigrant population. Post-War Europe needed workers to help rebuild, and they came in the millions especially from North Africa and the Middle-East.

While Europe eventually got back on its feet, it came at a price. Large segments of Europe are now effectively no-go zones for Europeans. Muslim populations have set up their own enclaves, and instead of blending in to the surrounding culture, they have defiantly insisted on the superiority of their own.

Instead of a harmonious multicultural Europe we instead have a deeply divided and polarised Europe, with resentment, antagonism, and societies being torn apart. Of course no culture can long last unless there are some core values which everyone agrees to and promotes.

But when competing ideologies, philosophies and values are being fought over in the same society, social cohesion becomes impossible. And the trouble is, many of those who originally advocated multiculturalism did not sufficiently think through what they were trying to achieve.

Some voices warned about potential trouble if this was not handled carefully. But usually these voices were drowned out and repudiated. But now with over half a century of European multiculturalism, even some national leaders are beginning to admit that this has been one big mistake.

Consider the recent words of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Germany is a nation of 82 million people, including around 4 million Muslims, mostly from Turkey. The trouble is, for the most part they never did integrate very well. Indeed, many did not want to. And trouble has been brewing there for quite some time.

Thus Merkel declared on the weekend that multiculturalism has been one monumental failure. This is how the newsagency Reuters covered the story: “Germany’s attempt to create a multicultural society has ‘utterly failed,’ Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday, adding fuel to a debate over immigration and Islam polarising her conservative camp.

“Speaking to a meeting of young members of her Christian Democrats (CDU), Merkel said allowing people of different cultural backgrounds to live side by side without integrating had not worked in a country that is home to some four million Muslims. ‘This (multicultural) approach has failed, utterly failed,’ Merkel told the meeting in Potsdam, south of Berlin.

“Merkel faces pressure from within her CDU to take a tougher line on immigrants who don’t show a willingness to adapt to German society and her comments appeared intended to pacify her critics. She said too little had been required of immigrants in the past and repeated her usual line that they should learn German in order to get by in school and have opportunities on the labour market….

“Merkel has tried to accommodate both sides of the debate, talking tough on integration but also telling Germans that they must accept that mosques have become part of their landscape. She said on Saturday that the education of unemployed Germans should take priority over recruiting workers from abroad, while noting Germany could not get by without skilled foreign workers.”

What is true of Germany is pretty much the case in many other parts of Europe. Muslim immigration has been a mixed bag. While some have blended in and adopted the values and customs of the host nation, many have not. Indeed, some studies have found that second-generation Muslims born in Europe are even more radicalised and resistant to integration than their parents.

Cultural diversity is certainly a good thing – under the right circumstances – but when warring factions within a nation are resistant to cooperation and unity, then a society is bound for trouble. The big question here is whether core Islamic values and beliefs are in any way compatible with core Western goods, such as freedom, democracy, and a proper separation of church and state.

Many authorities have answered this question in the negative. They argue that what we have are two competing ideologies and worldviews which are mutually incompatible and inconsistent with each other. But all societies need some cohesive underlying set of values.

In a situation where there are two warring worldviews, one will ultimately have to predominate. As Andrew McCarthy writes in his new book, The Grand Jihad (Encounter Books, 2010), “It is simply a fact that Islam and the West are different civilizations.”

Although he writes about the situation in America, his advice is appropriate for Europe as well: “Defending ourselves will require flushing out the Islamists: identifying them and imposing on them the burden of defending their totalitarian ideology against the positive case for liberty and human reason.

“Doing so will undeniably burden true moderate Muslims as well: Given the prevalence of anti-Constitutional beliefs in Islam, foreign Muslims should not be permitted to reside in America unless they can demonstrate their acceptance of American constitutional principles.”

It may be too late for many European nations to implement such advice. Undoubtedly many Muslims living in Europe do embrace European values and freedoms. But it is up to them to make this clear: to speak out and renounce the Islamists in their midst.

Until they do this loudly and clearly, the consternation as expressed by Merkel, Geert Wilders, and others will only increase in Europe. Whether it is too late to turn things around is a moot point. But surely the first step in turning things around is to acknowledge our past mistakes, and not keep repeating them.

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17 Replies to “Islam and the Failure of Multiculturalism”

  1. Those who profess Islam and demand to be treated with respect in their new home must reciprocate by abiding by the Rule of Law in their new home and if that means for example no more burqah that covers their entire faces then that is what they must do. If they cannot abide by this law then they should not live in a western nation to enjoy the fruits of democracy and good govenrance and civil society.

    The reason they cannot stay is because of the very nature of interpretation of the Koran. There is a whole spectrum of interpretation which goes towards evidence that it is purely personal between the seeker and their Lord. if there are those who do not wear a single shroud of cover over any part of their faces like myself and interpret the command to mean to be dressed moderately then the command is compatible with the western value system of wearing normal clothing. This is just one example.That those who cover from head to toe are extreme in their point of view and it makes it hard to live in any other nation but their own. They need to accept this and go home and not impose their minority view on others. They demand that the westerners who go to their home adhere to their customs and laws so why do they expect to be given preferential treatment.

    Siti Khatijah

  2. So to ask that an entire nation to change laws to suit the minority religion is disingenuous because in my interpretation it is not required to cover the face. it is clearly also stated there there is no compulsion in religion.There is another example to ask for a separate prayer room or for ablution needs for instance in Universities. There is a command in the Koran that you can do all the prayers you have missed in the day at night and do them all in one hit. So to ask for special facilities for fear of missing the prayers is not right. They all know they can redo all their prayers when they find time. There is no command that forces them to do it right there and then at the time especially if “they are busy looking for livelihood” or “travelling”. This is defensiveness on their part and it is time they grow up and behave themselves. After all they wouldn’t change a single thing in their country for a foreigner so why do they expect this.
    Siti Khatijah

  3. The early Jewish nation were repeatedly reminded that they too were once aliens living in a foreign land and indeed in the family tree of Christ includes the likes of Rahab the prostitute and Naomi, both foreigners. However the Bible says that though aliens are to be treated with respect, they are not to be included in the most important aspects of the nation’s life – unless they become Jews by becoming circumcised and observing the law.

    But equally the Bible describes what happens when the Israelites themselves turn their backs on God: they get taken over by the alien.
    Surely Deuteronomy 28 is a picture of western society that has rejected Christ.
    God is not mocked.

    David Skinner, UK

  4. Very good, Bill and will be sharing on my blog. Europe is our future less we heed the warnings and God’s word.

    David, Deut. 28: yes, we are reaping what we have sown and God is not mocked, nor is He pleased with what we have done and are doing.

    Rick Lakehomer, USA

  5. Many Australian suburbs have ‘harmony’ days, which are supporting multicultural activities. What deception!
    In other words, allowing foreign cultures and traditions an ‘in road’ and to overtake our Aussie cultures and traditions.
    Sydney Liverpool Council are removing the churches from conducting Carols in the Park this year. Watch out who will lead the carols this year and next year!
    Be alert, we must stop such.
    Mrs Judith Bond

  6. Thanks Bill. And special thanks to Siti Katijah. I found your moderate Muslim perspective helpful.

    Surely an immigrant to one’s country has much in common with a visitor to one’s house. If they can abide by their host’s customs, they are welcome. And if they cannot, they are not.

    The principle of ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ also has some relevance here.

    To what extent can people from an intolerant society expect to be treated with infinite tolerance in another society?

    John Ansell

  7. Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

    If we believe what the Bible tells us, we’ll recognise that the failure of multiculturalism was programmed into the human race at Babel. At Babel, God broke down human cohesion by confusing the languages of men. Language is one of the most important markers of culture. From that point onwards, it has not been possible for different cultures to cohere in a single society. Different cultures must live in geographical separation.

    Only the Christian gospel can successfully unite people of different tribes, nations and tongues. Any attempt to force different people groups together other than on the basis of the Christian gospel will end in failure.

    Jereth Kok

  8. Thank you to Bill and and To John Ansell as I feel it is not fair for them to have double standards especially when they will not change their ways and customs for others. Yes absolutely, when you go into some else’s home you mus be respectful that it is their home .

    Like Bill and many of my christian friends have said it is time for those who strongly disagrees with what is happening must speak out. If it takes a mother than so be it, I will never stop.

    Siti Khatijah

  9. I also feel that it is time to stop saying to the Christians (and insult them) that the two religions are the same because the core teachings are different. what we must do is either respect the Rule of Law or if we cannot then we must leave. If there are different laws for different people in one country than tyranny will follow, see example Malaysia. The moslem women there are not treated fairly under “Sharia”, it is chaos and the Civil Law system is more fair and just simply because of thousands of years of practice to try and get it right and accountable.
    Siti Khatijah

  10. Thanks Bill and especially Siti. Australia must learn the lessons from what has happened in Europe and Great Britain.
    It needs to be said again that Islam is not interested in integration but in domination of the culture wherever it can.
    That is why nearly all the conflicts involve Muslims and not other religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism.
    Graham Lawn

  11. Dear Bill, Thank you for the article on multiculturalism.When my husband and I brought our young family to WA in 1968 the word multiculturalism was never heard of. If we the ‘ten pound Poms’ didn’t integrate into the Australian way of life we were ‘whinging Poms’ and made to feel out of place.These days no one dares to criticise multiculturalism. It is automatically assumed to be a good thing but like you say it isn’t if it does not bring people together. I think the reason for this is because most ‘unchurched’ Australians are not being brought in close contact with large groups from other cultures.They may meet one or two people from other cultures in their workplace or at their children’s schools or play groups but they do not meet large groups such as often attend our Churches. The Catholic Church being Universal is a good example of multiculturalism at its best because it does bring people together at Mass each Sunday and in its other activities. We have a large Filipino Community in our church and I can honestly say I have thoroughly enjoyed and admired the different traditions they have introduced. The Novena of Masses on the nine days prior to Christmas for instance. The Filipinos call them the Rooster Masses because they begin a dawn each day and were started to help the Filipino farmers who had to begin their day early. It is a beautiful tradition. Starting the day in the freshness of the morning with Mass and reflections on the approaching celebration of the Birth of Our Lord. There has of course been some complaints that the parish was getting too ‘Filipino’ but if the Filipinos are prepared to show everyone how much they love and enjoy their Christian faith and express it in tangible, joyful ways who can begrudge them of it?

    People grumble about other cultures ‘taking over’ but if they are not prepared to stand up for what they believe in this is what will happen.Many Australians are nominal Christians. They make no effort to actively support their so called Christian faith by becoming active members of Christian Churches. They think Church attendance is not neccessary to being a good Christian but surely some loyalty is neccessary. I think they are afraid of the committment. They are afraid of having to give either of their precious time or money. They go all warm and fuzzy at Christmas and swoon over the old tradition of Carols by Candlelight but they have to realise that this is easy but it is not enough to preserve our Christian culture and traditions in society. We must be committed to its ideals and way of life every single moment of our lives and filling church pews on a Sunday and giving thanks and praise to our Good and Loving God is a neccessary part of that proccess. Why can’t people see that? They say that there is none so blind as those who don’t want to see.

    This indifference to their own culture is less evident amongst the Moslems. Most Muslims would attend the mosque for Friday prayers and keep Ramadam. Is it because they are still in the minority so feel they have to stick together?

    We will eventually have to pay for this lazy indifference and the innocent will suffer with the guilty. God can’t be pleased with it.

    Patricia Halligan

  12. Bill, this article is perfect and so are the other comments. Multiculturalism will only work if the asylum seekers ae willing to fit in. They cannot expect to transfer their birth culture exactly into say, Australian culture. Can’t work. The values of Respect for equal worth, dignity and freedom of the individual; Freedom of speech, of religion and secular govt. of asscoiation; Parliamentary democracy and rule of law; Equality under the law; of men and women, of opportunity; Peacefulness; Tolerance, mutual respect and compassion for those in need. These values occur in the Australian Citizenship Program. None of these values were evident when I worked in a muslim country two years ago. My experience with the asylum seekers (in Aust) of 2001 was that they had the greatest desire to ‘fit in’ and they all have done that. They became Australian citizens. Their children worked hard in our ours schools and some are already in university.
    Brian Hof

  13. Recommend reading Mark Durie article in Newsweekly:
    “The Ground Zero mosque dividing America”
    Anna Cook

  14. Bill I have just found your site through Adelaide House of Prayer. Every thought and fear I have ever had about Islam is written down. Your comments are so true. I think we in Australia are quite apathetic about these things. Christians need to stand up and defend their faith, Muslims do. I love people and we know God does but of course we cannot condone behaviour which goes against what He requires. Homosexuality is another area. Yes we love them as people but cannot and must not condone the lifestyle. I will be praying your voice will keep being heard. Thank you for taking the time to give us much food for thought. God Bless.
    Pauline Richmond

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