Islam in Europe has so many complex dimensions, even varying by which particular country is being discussed. European-Muslim relations are different in Germany than in, say, France. In Italy, the Muslim community has very different qualities than those found across Europe, a different identity. Stefano Allievi, in Hunter’s Islam, Europe’s Second Religion, gives four distinguishing factors for this community. “(1) diversity of countries of origin, (2) rapid pace of entry and settlement, (3) higher number of irregular immigrants, and (4) higher level of geographic dispersion.” These add up to a drastically different Muslim community in Italy, where the immigrants are more effectively assimilated. These people have come from numerous different countries, meaning no one nationality has overwhelming numbers. Also, they are more spread out, creating less insular communities where their previous country’s traditions and customs are more likely to manifest. This is similar to the situation in the United States, where Muslim people have a greater sense of identity with the host country. In his article, Why the US Doesn’t Have a Muslim Problem, and Europe Does, Naveed Jamali discusses how the US came to its current state. Studies by the Pew Research Center have found that Muslim populations in America are largely average Americans, who live in harmony with their communities. The Pew Center found that 43% of US Muslims think Muslim immigrants should mostly adopt American practices and lifestyles, with just 26% wanting immigrants to remain distinct.
However, Jamali may be working under a bias, as demonstrated by his origin story. He has family members in Europe, disenfranchised with their situation and national identity. he may see Europe as unwelcoming because his relatives feel no connection, but that may not be the case for everyone. However, since this article was published the national dialogue about Islam has changed drastically in America. With the rise of Donald Trump and American nationalism, foreigners are seen less favorably than in the near past. As fear of terrorism and foreign cultures has spread, we have seen rising rates of attacks on Muslim immigrants and families, a national attitude that these people should “go back to where they are from.” With the ban on immigration from certain Muslim countries, relations between these people have taken a sour turn. I personally don’t know how the American Muslim community is handling these issues, but I have seen certain things firsthand that give me hope.
After the ban was announced, here in Columbia at the local mosque, citizens took the time to make sure these people felt welcome. Kind notes and flowers covered the steps of Columbia’s mosque, letting them know we support them and meant them no harm. That is the kind of city I want to live in, one that sticks together and supports people who need help. As long as Americans stand with each other like this, and let the government know that we are NOT afraid, there is still a chance for people to live together in peace. And i think countries like Italy are also paving the way for a more unified tomorrow, there’s no reason people cannot work together and live in the same countries, even with their diverse backgrounds.