The racism behind integration

IRR report cover“In most European countries, integration is simply a euphemism for assimilation, the report says. The driving force is the notion of a national culture. In Germany this expresses itself through blood-based citizenship and a Leitkultur(dominant culture) and in France through citizenship by birth and earth and by laïcité (secularism). Norway has the idea of likhet (sameness); the Netherlands has verzuiling (religious/cultural blocs).

“One expects the extreme right to embrace such notions, but the report finds centre-left parties also using these racist sentiments to strategise. They may be liberal about immigration but, when it comes to Muslims, they fall prey to an Islamophobia that is ‘nourished by a mixture of feminism and secularism’.”

Ziauddin Sardar reviews Liz Fekete’s Integration, Islamophobia and civil rights in Europe, a new report published by the Institute of Race Relations.

New Statesman, 22 May 2008