Pankaj Mishra has a fantastic article out in last weekend’s Guardian Review. He takes on a shocking range of well-received books that seem designed to stoke fears of the scary Muslims taking over the world, or at least Europe. So far, so depressing. But reading the article, I discovered how many of my own beliefs about both Islam and Europe were false, and played into the stereotypes feeding the fears– despite my being a well-educated leftist who takes herself to keep up with things pretty well, and certainly not to uncritically accept right-wing myths.
I believed that the Muslim birthrate in Europe was rising. I thought people were wrong to think this was scary, but I did think it was true. It’s not. The Muslim birthrate is falling.
I believed that French Muslims were very religiously observant. Again, I wasn’t frightened by it, but I though it was true. Only 5% of Muslims in France regularly attend mosque.
I believed that Europe had a history of tolerance. Not sure how I managed that one, given that:
I urge you to read this excellent article. (Thanks, Mr Jender!)