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Occasional Talks Abstracts 2015-2016

laitin biggerDavid Laitin
Stanford University

Why Muslim Integration Fails in Christian-Heritage Societies

21 January 2016, 17:00
MWP Common Room




Amid mounting fears of Islamic extremism, many Europeans ask whether Muslim immigrants can integrate into historically Christian countries without putting host populations at risk. In a groundbreaking ethnographic investigation of France’s Muslim migrant population, Why Muslim Integration Fails in Christian-Heritage Societies (Harvard Press, January 2016) explores this complex question. The authors conclude that both Muslim and non-Muslim French must share responsibility for the slow progress of Muslim integration.

Claire L. Adida, David D. Laitin, and Marie-Anne Valfort found that in France, Muslims are widely perceived as threatening, based in large part on cultural differences between Muslim and rooted French that feed both rational and non-rational Islamophobia. Relying on a unique methodology to isolate the religious component of discrimination, the authors identify a discriminatory equilibrium in which both Muslim immigrants and native French act negatively toward one another in a self-perpetuating, vicious circle.

In their outline for public policy solutions aimed at promoting religious diversity in fair-minded host societies, the authors hold that disentangling the rational and irrational threads of Islamophobia is essential. Muslim immigrants must adjust several of their cultural practices that abet discrimination, the authors hold, and Europeans must acknowledge and correct the anti-Islam sentiments and practices that sustain that discrimination.

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