Migrants to the West #1

Challenging perceptions

In the United States of America, Canada and in the European Union you may wonder if the current process of those countries becoming a multicultural society, more specifically when several Muslims challenge ‘white’ perceptions of those nations and give the impression they want to impose their way of thinking on those countries.

Monument to Multiculturalism by Francesco Perilli

Monument to Multiculturalism by Francesco Perilli (Photo credit: Shaun Merritt)

Those fundamentalists are the ones who frightens most citizens of those countries. They are also the problem for further trust and development. When you consider that already 25% of the Belgian population is adhering the Islamic faith, while the country is a so called Catholic country, but has only 6% of its population going to mass, you may trigger the question if it is still right to consider Belgium a Catholic country.

Fear for or from Terrorism and Multiculturalism

Because the terrorism from the Muslim origin increasing worldwide and getting lots of media attention and not enough reaction against such violence from the imams in our countries, we can notice an increase of racism.

Multiculturalism has been a hotly debated topic in Europe and North America in the last two decades. While anthropologists have made important contributions, much of the academic debate has taken place within the field of normative political theory. A major disagreement among political philosophers is about how multiculturalism relates to liberalism. A prominent advocate of a liberal version of multiculturalism, Will Kymlicka (2002:336-337), notes that until 1989, multiculturalism was usually equated with communitarian philosophy which disputes the liberal concept of the ‘autonomous individual’. According to him, it has become widely recognized that except for a few
‘communitarian’ groups, most ethnic minorities in Western societies want to be equal participants in liberal society. Thus, debates are in most cases “debates amongst liberals about the meaning of liberalism”, i.e. debates among people who “endorse the basic liberal-democratic consensus, but who disagree about the interpretation of these principles” (ibid, 338-339).
writes Christian Stokke in his Thesis for the degree of  Philosophiae Doctor, Trondheim, December 2012, A Multicultural Society in the Making; How Norwegian Muslims challenge a white nation.

Importance of national contexts

Tariq Modood sociological theory of political multiculturalism (Modood & Favell
2003:490-492; Modood 2005:187-188) looks at the importance of national contexts, especially when importing and applying theories developed in North American countries to a western European context with different multicultural experiences (Modood & Favell 2003:487; 493-494; Modood 2005:171; 189). He argues that the case of Britain is interesting because it bridges the experiences of North American ‘immigrant nations’ that have been culturally diverse from the start, and the presumably homogenous ‘old nations’ of Europe, where multiculturalism has become an issue as a result of more recent non-European immigration, of which a significant share come from Muslim countries (Modood 2007:2-9). Britain’s historical self-image is that of an ‘old nation’ but more accurately it is a union of four ethnic nations, including the Scottish, Welsh and perhaps Irish in addition to the dominant English.
Due to Britain’s imperial past, it has a diverse minority population consisting of three main groups, Caribbean and African Blacks; Indians; and South Asian Muslims. Like in the United States, minority issues have been understood within a paradigm of “race relations” focused on colour racism (Modood 2007:9), and the Black American struggle has inspired British minority movements (ibid, 40).

While ethnic minorities constitute a larger proportion of the general population in some continental European countries, Britain is regarded the most multicultural society in Europe, not simply in terms of state policy but because of much higher minority participation in the public sphere than in countries like France and Germany, whose models of the ‘civic’ and ‘ethnic’ nation are less inclusive of minorities, and where public integration debates largely consist of majority persons speaking about minorities. Modood also argues that unlike the ‘state multiculturalism’ of Canada and Australia, British multiculturalism has mainly developed as a result of the political mobilization of minorities in social movements.

Multiculturalism grant

Multiculturalism grant (Photo credit: BC Gov Photos)

Providing a platform for dialogue

To my idea we should not be afraid for multiculturalism when we can provide a form of process of negotiation and dialogue and creating a ground of different opinions respecting each-others ideas, culture, religion and traditions.

I am a Muslim not a Commodity

I am a Muslim not a Commodity (Photo credit: Edge of Space)

Minorities may challenge public discourse and political institutions but both parties should aim for the same goal, coming together to create a place where all different people can come together to live in peace with each other. some may think that a ‘critical multiculturalism’ should not be primarily interested in ‘culture’ but in politicized ethnic
identities, and in turning these from a stigma into a positive part of society (ibid, 43),
resulting in the formation of hyphenated identities such as ‘Black American’, ‘British
Asian’ or ‘Norwegian Muslim’. Last month therefore several Flemish politicians called for not to speak any more of “allochtoon” or (im)migrant like they would be aliens but to speak about those allochthonous people as  Belgian Italian, Belgian Marrocan, Belgian Turk and Belgian Greek. We also may not speak about a ‘migrant’ any more or ‘coloured’ person or a ‘nigger’, which is absurd because we should still use the classical words of a language and not leaving them out for they were at one time ‘coloured’ or with a negative meaning. In a multicultural society, these identities are seen as a legitimate basis for political mobilization and lobbying rather than regarded as divisive or disloyal to the nation. (Modood 2007: 49).

Looking at the Critical Mirror

Modood (2007:64-68) argues that minorities have a distinct knowledge which can hold a “critical mirror” up to larger society; not only do they have primary knowledge about the marginalization and discrimination they experience, but they may also contribute with different perspectives on their shared society and its discourses, and he emphasizes that multiculturalism is about openly discussing such critical perspectives on attitudes, values and practices, and about allowing minorities to influence these. While Modood focuses on multicultural negotiations and minority mobilization, other theorists direct more attention to problematizing the dominant discourse. Applying American paradigms of critical race
theory and whiteness studies to analyze Norwegian majority discourses, anthropologist
Marianne Gullestad (2002; 2006:209) has analyzed how ‘white hegemony’ is challenged by minority voices, then re-articulated and reasserted in integration debates.

Integrated generations


Balancing on our coloured world

The Americans like the Europeans should be aware that those people who came from other countries or states, now in their second and third generations may no longer be organized communities with different belief systems and practices, but could be very national and really fully belong to the region where they are living now. For those immigrants that is today mostly a big problem, because a Belgian Moroccan is in Belgium often considered to be a Moroccan though in Morocco they consider him as a foreigner. To the end they do seem to belong to nowhere. It can well be that that person is behaving more like a Flemish one than an other Belgian who would live in the same region. Lots of those immigrants moved in the direction of either hybrid lifestyles or developed into ethno-religious communities living in societies where secularism is hegemonic.

Most of our countries participated in colonial practice and discourse and got foreign people to work as cheap labour in the underground and factories. Now when the mines are closed and the factories can not offer enough employment they just want to get rid of them, like they are waste. A decent community can not behave like that and should show respect to those who were willing to contribute to the welfare of the country.

Shaping public opinion

It has become an impossibility to call a halt to ethnic diversity. We therefore should have an open mind in our growing multicultural society where the public sphere takes on additional importance, by being the site for dialogue and negotiations between minority, majority. The mass media do play a very important role for giving the picture of the situation and forming the mind of their viewers. In Belgium we see certain media exaggerating the differences  and over-sizing so called ‘Belgian or Flemish brandmarks. According what I can find in those media to which a Belgian should apply I for example could never be considered a Belgian because I would not behave like the ‘normal Belgian’ should do. {But who could decide what a Belgian is and what about the Flemish or Walloon division?}
We always should be very careful when we want to put a stamp or a label on a ethnic. You would be surprised how many wrong pigeonholes are created by those popular magazines.

The mass media may act as a gatekeeper deciding who gets access to public debate but this could also create dangerous grounds were fanaticism enters and fundamentalist groups, like very right wing groups can get more opportunities to spurge their controversial ideas than the reasonable sensed ones. Depending on the kind of media; while the political elite has regular access to television news and debate programs, the more democratic internet has opened up arenas for ordinary citizens to express their opinions (including undemocratic opinions like racism, e.g. the growing network of anti-Islamic websites). The opinion pages of national newspapers seem to be the preferred arena for European intellectual elites and a main site for academic analysis of public debate.

Public sphere an public opinion

The relationship between the public sphere and public opinion goes both ways, public opinion is represented in the media, but the media also shapes public opinion. The relationship is not straightforward; but depends on other factors; studies have shown that in societies where there is little personal contact between majority and minority population, media portrayal has a strong influence on majority perception of minorities (Hervik 2004; IMDI 2009).

To my opinion we do not see a wide enough diversity of minority voices represented. The media should take care that not only voices with sensational opinions or those most favoured by mainstream media can have their say. Media access alone is insufficient to exercise free speech, as Husband (2000:207-208) argues, it must be accompanied by a “right to be understood”.

Debate should be open to all citizens from all sorts of cultures and the moderator should take care that all visions can righteously expressed. On the Flemish television we can see that the debate programs are only offered very late at nigh out of prime time, so they only would attract a certain intellectual or interested public. Often in those programs a language is used which is considered by several of the ordinary public as too ‘hautain’ or too academic, and in a ‘language’ which is not generally accessible to all. An other problem in the communication is the arguments grounded in religious doctrines which are not necessarily seen as relevant arguments by non-believers and believers of other religions.
Thus, religious arguments need to be ‘translated’ into secular language (Habermas 2005:15) of public reason (Rawls 1999:143). Importantly, both Habermas and Rawls (ibid, 142-144) distinguish between the informal public sphere (public debate) and formal political institutions (parliaments, courts and administration), where the former is fully open to any kind of contribution, whereas only arguments that meet certain criteria should be allowed to cross the institutional threshold and influence policy and law-making (Habermas, ibid). However, Rawls’ (1999:135) argues that citizens should ideally engage in public reasoning as if they were legislators, and Habermas’ discourse ethics promotes an ideal of rational argumentation where every citizen is equally entitled to participate, and where the strength of the better argument alone should prevail, regardless of individual participants’ social position or background. According to Rawls (ibid, 171), defining participants as ‘citizens’ means viewing them as free and equal individuals, assigning to each the same political position disregarding their social situatedness in terms of class and ‘comprehensive doctrines’. Thus, this model of public deliberation places certain constraints on public reasoning and excludes certain kinds of contributions as illegitimate (Bader 2009). {A Multicultural Society in the Making, Christian Stokke}


Preceding: Giving others the chance our ancestors had

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Find also to read:

  1. A Multicultural Society in the Making: How Norwegian Muslims challenge a white nation
  2. Multiculturalism and www.tariqmodood.com.
  3. The pursuit of integration requires that citizens have a sense of belonging to the whole, as well as to their own ‘little platoon’
  4. The evidence shows that multiculturalism in the UK has succeeded in fostering a sense of belonging among minorities, but it has paid too little attention to how to sustain support among parts of the white population
  5. Book Review: European Identity and Culture: Narratives of Transnational Belonging
  6. Book Review: National Belonging and Everyday Life: The Significance of Nationhood in an Uncertain World
  7. The opposition between ‘Britishness’ and multiculturalism is more complex than it seems
  8. Citizen University and the difference between Citizenship and Activism
  9. Doomthinking or a real problem for Europe
  10. Citizens to be put at the heart of the public debate
  11. Christian fundamentalism as dangerous as Muslim fundamentalism
  12. Problems by losing the borders
  13. God Watches
  14. Looking For Someone to Blame: Reactions to the Boston Bombing
  15. Biography of Jürgen Habermas
    The reading Friday 26 April at the university of Leuven was so successful that the univ had to offer an opportunity to follow it also life in the parc over the packed auditorium PDS, and in the big auditorium of the Maria Theresia College, Sint-Michielsstraat 6.
    Jürgen Habermas
  16. Democracy, Solidarity and the European Crisis
    Lecture delivered by Professor Jürgen Habermas on 26 April 2013 in LeuvenWhat unite the European citizens today are the Eurosceptical mindsets that have become more pronounced in all of the member countries during the crisis, albeit in each country for different and rather polarizing reasons. This trend may be an important fact for the political elites to take into account; but the growing resistance is not really decisive for the actual course of European policy-making which is largely uncoupled from the national arenas. The actual course of the crisis management is pushed and implemented in the first place by the large camp of pragmatic politicians  who pursue an incrementalist agenda but lack a comprehensive perspective. They are  oriented towards “More Europe” because they want to avoid the far more dramatic and presumably costly alternative of abandoning the euro.
    Summarizing the analysis, we are trapped in the dilemma between, on the one side, the economic policies required to preserve the euro and, on the other, the political steps to closer integration. The steps that are necessary to achieve this objective are unpopular and meet with spontaneous popular resistance. The Commission’s plans reflect the temptation to bridge, in a technocratic manner, this gulf between what is economically required and what seems to be politically achievable only apart from the people. This approach harbors the danger of a growing gap between consolidating regulatory competences, on the one hand, and the need to legitimize these increased powers in a democratic fashion, on the other. Under the pull of this technocratic dynamic, the European Union would approach the dubious ideal of a market-conforming democracy that would be even more helplessly exposed to the imperatives of the markets because it lacked an anchor in a politically irritable and excitable civil society. Instead, the steering capacities which are lacking at present, though they are functionally necessary for any monetary union, could and should be centralized only within the framework of an equally supranational and democratic political community.
  17. John Rawls (1921—2002), arguably the most important political philosopher of the twentieth century
  18. John Rawls, American political and ethical philosopher
    In A Theory of Justice, Rawls defends a conception of “Justice as fairness.” He holds that an adequate account of justice cannot be derived from Utilitarianism, because that doctrine is consistent with intuitively undesirable forms of government in which the greater happiness of a majority is achieved by neglecting the rights and interests of a minority. Reviving the notion of a social contract, Rawls argues that justice consists of the basic principles of government that free and rational individuals would agree to in a hypothetical situation of perfect equality. In order to ensure that the principles chosen are fair, Rawls imagines a group of individuals who have been made ignorant of the social, economic, and historical circumstances from which they come, as well as their basic values and goals, including their conception of what constitutes a “good life.” Situated behind this “veil of ignorance,” they could not be influenced by self-interested desires to benefit some social groups (i.e., the groups they belong to) at the expense of others. Thus they would not know any facts about their race, sex, age, religion, social or economic class, wealth, income, intelligence, abilities, talents, and so on.
    Soviet-style communism is unjust because it is incompatible with most basic liberties and because it does not provide everyone with a fair and equal opportunity to obtain desirable offices and positions. Pure laissez-faire capitalism is also unjust, because it tends to produce an unjust distribution of wealth and income (concentrated in the hands of a few), which in turn effectively deprives some (if not most) citizens of the basic means necessary to compete fairly for desirable offices and positions. A just society, according to Rawls, would be a “property-owning democracy” in which ownership of the means of production is widely distributed and those who are worst off are prosperous enough to be economically independent.
  19. Recasting the Argument for Stability: Political Liberalism (1993)
  20. Problems of Extension



  • Modood, “Multiculturalism” (clrforum.org)
    This month Polity Books will publish Multiculturalism by Tariq Modood (University of Bristol).

    At a time when many public commentators are turning against multiculturalism in response to fears about militant Islam, immigration or social cohesion, Tariq Modood, one of the world’s leading authorities on multiculturalism, provides a distinctive contribution to these debates. He contends that the rise of Islamic terrorism has neither discredited multiculturalism nor heralded a clash of civilizations. Instead, it has highlighted a central challenge for the 21st century – the urgent need to include Muslims in contemporary conceptions of democratic citizenship.

  • One man, no vote: British Muslim suffrage (abdelxyz.wordpress.com)
    a short extract of a letter written in 2002 by Tariq Modood, Professor of Sociology, Politics and Public Policy at the University of Bristol, (which shall also be mentioned in Migrants to the West #4)
  • America Follow Their Lead – The Netherlands to Abandon Multiculturalism – Kick The Muslims Out (itmakessenseblog.com)
    lticulturismThe Netherlands , where six per cent of the population is now Muslim, is scrapping multiculturalism:The Dutch government says it will abandon the long-standing model of multiculturalism that has encouraged Muslim immigrants create a parallel society within the Netherlands ..A new integration bill, which Dutch Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner presented to parliament on June 16, reads:“The government shares the social dissatisfaction over the multicultural society model and plans to shift priority to the values of the Dutch people.In the new integration system, the values of the Dutch society play a central role.”

    With this change, the government steps away from the model of a multicultural society.

  • Multiculturalism and Its Discontents (kenanmalik.wordpress.com)
    In Breivik’s eyes the killings in Oslo and Utoya were the first shots in a war to defend Europe against multiculturalism. Shortly before the attacks Breivik had published online 1500-page manifesto entitled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence. 2083 refers to the 400th anniversary of the Battle of Vienna when the advance into Europe of the Ottoman Empire had been checked by the armies of the Habsburg Empire. Twenty-first century Europe, Breivik claimed, faced a similar threat and required a similar military response. ‘The individuals I have been accused of illegally executing’, he wrote, ‘are supporters of the anti-European hate ideology known as multiculturalism, an ideology that facilitates Islamisation and Islamic demographic warfare.’ They were ‘killed in self defence through a pre-emptive strike’ having ‘been found guilty and condemned to death.’
    The character of the critique of multiculturalism has transformed, too. As much of the debate surrounding the Breivik assault reveals, the contemporary critique of multiculturalism is often driven by crude notions – indeed myths – about Islam, Muslims, immigration, European history and Western values.
    multiculturalism cover
  • Australian Government: Sharia Law Out, One Law for All (atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com)
    Check out the article (below) in The Australian. In short, no room for Sharia law in a multicultural society. Muslims in Australia say they will defy the (secular) law and have multiple wives anyway. And I am sure those wives will apply for single mother benefits.
    Islamic law and polygamous marriages will be denounced as forever unacceptable in Australia in a bipartisan parliamentary report that will define what multiculturalism means for our nation, and state there must be only “one law for all”.The report — the result of a two-year investigation into Australia’s multicultural strategy — is understood to be critical of the limited access migrants have to English language training and the lack of cultural awareness shown by employers and the federal employment recruitment agency.
    While they pretend to reject Sharia law the political Muslim appeasers have in fact been actively involved in the development of Islamic Sharia banking/ finance and the massive multi billion dollar halal export beef industry– creating a financial windfall for the Government. Australian laws have been amended in areas of finance, taxation and the family law act–polygamy and divorce to name a few to accommodate the Muslim minority in accordance with Islamic Sharia law. Australian Government officials have also traveled extensively to the middle east to promote Australia as Sharia friendly to lure Islamic investors to our shores. The Government has also strongly urged Australian financial institutions to do much more to attract Islamic Sharia investment.
    The Australian Government has enacted race hate/religious vilification laws ,handed down by the global monstrosity–the U.N, to intimidate Australians and every other non-Muslim into silence– preventing them from speaking out against Muslims and their murderous cult. While the Jihadists carry on their rape and murder sprees across the world unchallenged , western Government continues the massive cover up of the worldwide Muslim massacre of non-Muslims– the genocide of innocent men women and children..It truly beggars belief.
  • There Is More Than One Way to Skin a Community (kenanmalik.wordpress.com)
    David Goodhart, in his response to my review of his book The British Dream, raised three major issues. First, he suggested, mass immigration undermines stability and continuity. Second, he claimed that I ignored the fact that immigrants come not as individuals but as members of communities and cultures. And third, he challenged me to set out my concept of integration. I dealt with the question of stability and change in a pervious post. I will write about the meaning of integration in a future post. Here, I want to take up the question of community and culture.
    The best way to understand immigration to Britain, and of the changing relationship of minority groups to culture, community and tradition, is in terms of three generations: the first generation that came in the fifties and sixties; the second generation that were born or grew up in the seventies and eighties; and the third generation that has come of age since then. (David Goodhart mentions the ‘three generation’ model in his book but does not follow through the consequences.)
  • The Netherlands to Abandon Multiculturalism And Muslim Mass-Immigration (themuslimissue.wordpress.com)
    immigrants will be required to learn the Dutch language and the government will take a tougher approach to immigrants who ignore Dutch values or disobey Dutch law.”The government will also stop offering special subsidies for Muslim immigrants because, according to Donner;
    “It is not the government’s job to integrate immigrants.” (How bloody true).
    +The Netherlands to Abandon Multiculturalism
  • Diversity and Multiculturalism, Failed Liberal Values (canadafreepress.com)
    This country was not built on diversity and multiculturalism, the failed liberal ideology. We are certainly diverse enough and Americans come from many cultures. For generations every immigrant to this country learned English, American history, celebrated American traditions, and became a part of the fabric of our exceptional society while honoring traditions from the ethnic backgrounds and former countries they left behind.
    We are committing societal suicide through environmentalism gone berserk, demographics, degradation of education via communist indoctrination in schools, insane illegal immigration policies, abortion, out of control fiscal and monetary policies, unraveling of the family unit, degradation of the institution of marriage, and destruction of our Christian faith.Liberal groups have pushed multiculturalism and diversity heavily in the last 30 years. We have legalized with little scrutiny people coming from third world nations based on their Islamic faith, refugee status, skin color, gender, ideology, sexuality, and economic background. We have given student visas at an accelerated pace, hoping that smart, college graduates would stay in the U.S. and contribute to society in a positive way.
  • Multiculturalism has won the day. Let’s move on | Sunny Hundal (guardian.co.uk)


    Whitechapel High Street, one of the most multicultural areas in London. Photograph: Rex Features

    It’s official: 45 years after Enoch Powell made his “rivers of blood” speech – the fearmongers have lost the war, while those who think Britain is stronger with a multiracial and multicultural identity have won.
    the continuous war waged by the rightwing press against multiculturalism has utterly failed. Public opinion has in fact moved in the opposite direction and become less hostile to people of different cultures and ethnicities living in the UK. In other words, interacting with ethnic minorities and watching them contribute to the UK (in sport, business, academia etc) has easily overcome tabloid scaremongering. This doesn’t just illustrate the limited impact of the press and politicians, but the power of everyday experiences in changing opinions. So when David Cameron gave a speech in 2011 saying “multiculturalism has failed” he just reinforced the negative perceptions of the Tory party of Enoch Powell, while only appealing to a narrow sliver of the population. Even mainstream Conservative voters don’t buy that view any more: 71% of them support multiculturalism too. There is also evidence to show that attitudes to immigrants have improved since 2002.

  • White Bread, Multiculturalgrain bread, wholemeal bread … Let’s Aim For More Fibre. Let’s Get Multivultural (examiningmedia.wordpress.com)
    The Australian media industry is currently aware of the sensitivity and reactions the “whitewashing” accusation provokes and has found the need to improve discrimination, exclusion and the (mis) representation of ethnic actors (Dreher 2014). With the introduction of the concept of “Actor’s equity” provides a benchmark for color-blind casting. Colour-blind casting does not discriminate against ethic individuals on any level when casting roles.

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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31 Responses to Migrants to the West #1

  1. Moderator says:

    Nice touch with that photoshopped and superimposed text above, “I am a Muslim…”
    Unfortunately it is not Muslims who are victims. The opposition to Muslims are because they cannot stop victimizing others. The larger their volume, the greater the atrocities. They cannot stop hating and provoking others. A reality anyone who have lived in an Islamic society would understand, and that is related to the religion and the instructions it bears, but which the west seem to only be able to grasp by experience.


  2. marcusampe says:

    Like with any religion you could say Islamization begins when there are sufficient Muslims in a country, but it is to others to be stronger and to come up for their beliefs. When they do strongly believe in certain matters and can live accordingly it would not be to difficult for them, when they are in enough numbers to convince others, thus also the incoming Muslims, of the value of their way of thinking.


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