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Leah Seppanen Anderson

Islam in Europe

Conflicting reports.

Opinion is divided on the future of Europe. Books with titles like Why Europe Will Run the Twenty-first Century claim that Europe will (or already does) supersede the United States in global economic or political power. But for every book championing the European way, there are multiple volumes that assert Europe's economic decline, political irrelevance, and cultural collapse. A key factor in the critics' case against Europe is the negative impact of immigration, especially Muslim immigration.

Christoper Caldwell's Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West is one of the more recent and articulate expressions of the pessimist's view on the future of Europe. Although Caldwell does not offer new research, he repackages existing data in insightful ways and presents his ideas provocatively, but without fear-mongering rhetoric. For all Caldwell's research and nuance, his argument is quite simple: a change in Europeans will lead to a change in Europe. He explains that "Europe's basic problem with Islam, and with immigration more generally, is that the strongest communities in Europe are, culturally speaking, not European communities at all …. Islam is a magnificent religion …. But all cant to the contrary, it is in no sense Europe's religion and it is in no sense Europe's culture." According to Caldwell, European culture is about to be extinguished by Islamic culture.

Caldwell's grim assessment rests in large part on his understanding of the two communities he sees in conflict. In his view, Europeans are weak. They are weak culturally because they no longer have a coherent, defensible culture. Appeals to "European values" are meaningless: "you cannot defend what you cannot define. There is no consensus, not even the beginning of a consensus, about what European values are. A united Europe would have nothing to fear from Islam, but Europe is not united."

Moreover, Europeans are politically weak, explains Caldwell, because their leaders ...

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