Sex in the Cités: Challenges of Muslim integration in Europe

Newsweek reports serious problems in French housing projects.

Issues for debate:

– Can the young men and women of the cités break out, or will they become ever more isolated, turning inward against themselves?

– Will they build their lives and relationships on egalitarian values, or on the worst of Islam and the Internet?

– Do other European countries have similar problems?

– What past mistakes in social policy led to these problems?

– What social policy should be used to cure them?

My POV is that public housing projects have pretty much been a failure in the US, so I’m not surprised that they have failed in France. ISTM that a focus should be to integrate Muslim immigrants into French society, rather than keep them separated.

This, or something similar, is a problem in many other European countries, offhand that I know of: Germany, England, Denmark, Sweden and Norway – but perhaps nowhere as bad as France (see also: The first step to a solution is realizing and admitting there actually is a problem. This has for many years been impossible, where any mention of problems regarding integration and immigration was met with howls and accusations of racism, fascism, Nazism and what not. At least this has changed somewhat in the last few years, where we’re now able to have an open discussion with only the occasional accusation.

A thing that has always puzzled me, is when I see American movies (e.g. Boys N the Hood), the neighbourhoods that’s supposed to be very run down and crimeladden – actually looks like quite nice suburban neighbourhoods. Why are these places supposed to be bad, it can’t be poverty? Don’t you have these horrible housing projects in the US – and why aren’t the movies filmed on such locations?


Winston, “Boys in the Hood” was not a “project” movie. I’d argue that most “bad” neighborhoods in the US are like the one presented in that movie–composed of both good, civic-minded people who tend to their property and lazy, irresponsible, ignorant people who commit crimes. I grew up in a “Boys in the Hood” type neighborhood. It was “bad” in that you could hear gunshots firing on any given night, but there were professionals who lived on my block, as well as regular folks with solid families and well-kept lawns. Unfortunately, people who didn’t live in my neighborhood only knew about the “bad” element.

Such places can run the gamut from slum ghetto to tidy-but-marginal to borderline decent, depending on what you compare them to. But “nice suburb”? Eh, no.

I don’t know what can be done in France. It sounds like a horrible mess of a problem.

What could the internet possibly have to do with this? Do you think people in the ghetto sit around and surf the 'net?

The difference between France and the United States in this regard is that US realized about 30 years ago that large scale public housing is essentially a government-created ghetto, the same concentration of poor as the levelled slums they replaced. Such public housing projects are increasingly being town down, replaced by smaller, scattered projects, Section 8 housing subsidies to lower income families, and other programs.

In the US, lower income families usually live in housing that was built not for poor folks, but for middle and upper middle income families. They’re in neighborhoods that have been abandoned by the first few generations of occupants. In 1950, a three bedroom, one bathroom, 100 square meter house was considered the ideal of middle class living in the US. Now, a typical middle class household outside of San Francisco, Denver or New York can afford a four bedroom, two or three bathroom, 250 to 350 square meter house. The older houses, if they’re in suburban areas that don’t have enough charm to attract hip urban-oriented Gen-Xers, are usually passed down to the next lower income group. The problem can be exacerbatedd if it’s in the path of a growing minority community. Because the demand for real estate in such areas drops among the middle class, prices fall, making the area affordable to lower income groups.

Also, in the US, crime tends to be concentrated in low income areas. We hear about murders in the ghetto, but it usually stays there. The criminal element in the ghetto seldom strays far. Yes, there’s crime in middle class urban and suburban neighborhoods, but it’s typically not of the sort described in the “Barbarians at the Gates of Paris” article.

The thing is Winston, when you start repeating claims made by Danish neo-Nazis that simply are not avaidable from reliable sources (infact the worst incidences of Gang rape in C. were carried out by ethnic Danes), I don’t think it’s a huge leap of logic for me to say that there’s a fair chance you may be connected with them in someway.

Also when you further add your own claims that this is a problem in England (clue: I live in England Iand I’ve never heard this claim before, there are social problem with ethnic mionrities in the UK, not just Muslims) and others which you can’t provide a cite for.

In Germany according to what what the press uses to report, the main problem in this regard seems to be part of the Turkish women being kept at home, in a traditional role, not learning to speak German i.e. not being able to communicate with the society at large.

Especially for wives who have come from the old country via arranged marriage - they are obviously very much dependent on their husband.

This is not only bad for the wives but also for their children. The German school system assumes a lot of learning being done in the family. A child whose mother cannot help with the homework, who doesn’t talk German in the family and whose parents don’t come to parents’ evenings is pretty much doomed educationally.

My picture on the situation of teenaged Turkish girls:

  • Of independent-minded girls being sexually terrorized by their male contemporaries, as described in the OP, I have not read in the press.
  • But: there is the occasional honor killing, by male relatives.
  • According to some anecdotal press reports, Turkish second/third generation immigrant girls seem to do better at school/have more aspirations for a better formal education than their brothers. Possibly because they see that traditional roles are a bad deal for women and education is their chance to escape.

With Germany, I think the main mistake was to subscribe to the illusion, from the 1950s well into the 1990s, that the Gastarbeiter immigrants would come, work, then return with their earnings to their families in their country of origin, mainly Turkey. Not only did we ignore that they settled with their families, immigrated de facto and to a large extent even stayed for retirement and burial, but we also encouraged the immigrants in the self-deception that they’d only stay until they had built a nice new house in their home village. Result: We did not engage them as part of our own society, as we ought to have done from the start.

There is little that can be done as govermental policy, IMO. My personal vision of society is that nobody who is not mentally handicapped should be allowed not to be able to speak the language of the country he/she lives in, or be allowed to have sub-par formal education. But that’s too coercive to work in a liberal democracy.

The lowering of barriers to naturalization a few years ago should help in getting the immigrants to be part of our society. Two thirds of resident aliens are now entitled to naturalization on the basis of time of residence alone - they just need apply. Unfortunately not as many apply as has been hoped.

The most important thing IMO is the attidude of individual people. We need to become aware that we are several ethnicities but one nation, and that other ethnicities’ business is our business.

monstro, I don’t really know if you’re attempting to do this, but one really shouldn’t try to compare the Muslim integration issue in France (and in other European countries, such as the Netherlands and Norway) to the issue of black ghettoes in the US. The problems are in a way much deeper, and are not merely a social response to poverty and oppression. France colonized the Arab lands in North Africa and the Levant, but didn’t encourage cultural assimilation among the Muslim immigrants who were bound to come from those places, especially once France let them go. I have a personal stake in this whole situation, as my father is a Jew born in Algeria with French citizenship (I have it too, as I am a dual Fr-Am citizen), and our family in France is certainly feeling the heat on this problem, so to speak. Historically the problem is that France always took a multiculturalist rather than melting-pot approach, and French Muslim immigrants (Muslim and Arab are generally interchangeable in this scenario, as the French Muslims come more or less from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Syria) were essentially confined to their own areas, with their own schools and media, encouraged to develop their own culture. Stupid decision, and now the French are paying the price. Ties are now developed to the rest of the Muslim world rather than to France, causing the worst aspects of modern Muslim culture to be manifest. Unfortunately there’s no easy solution. Thankfully after hundreds of years of oppression black Americans could still be integrated into American culture, and though racial tensions exist, they do not even approach what is going on in France. A solution is made difficult by two basic facts: 1) An intolerant and reactionary strain of Islam is growing around the world, which targets its appeals to angry and alienated or oppressed young Muslim males, and 2) Rapid communication through the Internet and such allow French Muslims easy access to this world. The mistakes of the past cannot be erased and are having consequences today. Even after 300 or 400 years of oppression, integration of blacks into American society was a lot easier than integration of Muslims in to French society will be, if the French even bother to try.

To all who read the above post: sorry for the atrocious formatting and not-much-better grammar. I wrote it somewhat stream-of-consciousness and probably should have sat down for a minute and edited it.

Maybe some Muslims need to do the approaching?

Um, Fang? I wasn’t attempting to do anything, nor was I drawing any comparisons. I was responding to WinstonSmith, who–for a reason that’s not clear to me–brought up “Boys in the Hood”. I’m very much aware that black Americans and Muslim immigrants to France are not in comparable situations.

You’re out of line Mr. MC! :mad: You’re insinuating that I’m in some way associated with the Nazis. This is not the pit – am I mistaken that such disgusting insults and personal attacks are not normally accepted on these boards. I expect that you wrote your message in a fit of momentarily insanity and will be forthcoming with an apology. :mad:

The thing is MC, when you base your arguments on ad hominem attacks – it’s hard to take anything else you say serious. I have nowhere repeated claims made by any Nazis (neo or otherwise). I don’t know why you feel you need to babble about gang rapes which has precious little to do with the current thread, however I must inform you that you are mistaken regarding your claim – but if you really feel you must I will discuss it in a relevant thread.

Actually it’s a bit ironic; this was precisely what I was referring to in my first post about people howling Nazis at the slightest mention of problems. However I check in on this board precisely because I had the feeling that here, even though I expect few share my point of view, at least such things can be discussed sanely without resorting to personal attacks. I hope I’m not mistaken.

Regarding England:
Am I mistaken that you had some violent riots in Brixton and Bradford not so long ago, which was racial based? Am I mistaken that you indeed have large ghettos, ghettos in the sense of large areas almost entirely occupied by one racial group (e.g. Pakistanis), in England – where there’s slight interaction and integration with the rest of England?

Two quick googles:

I don’t think neither the BBC nor the Guardian are normally considered Nazi sources, but then again you never know.
““We’re segregated really,” added Ali. “Whites live in a white area, Asians live in Asian areas […] We don’t have links with the white youth. This is why there’s fear.”“
“Ugly racial incidents have continued to blight life in the city […]“
“Segregation is still part of life. Most schools are either mostly Asian or mostly white. One in four primary schools in Bradford is more than 70 per cent Asian, while half are totally white. ‘There’s no mixing. There’s just our gangs and their gangs,’ said Osman, 15[…]”

I brought up “Boys N the Hood” as an example of movies depicting what I, mistakenly apparently, took for the what must be the US pedant to the French (Western European) concrete ghetto slum, which I couldn’t understand, since they looked so rich. This is an element in these kinds of movies which I don’t really understand – never having been to America, however it was not part of the intended discussion and I apologize for the highjack.


Yes, but when you repeat neo-Nazi propanganda on these boards (the claims where part of a neo-Nazi poster campaign in Copenhagen during the 2001 elections, documented by Tel Aviv’s University’s institute for the study of antsemitsm and racism) I begin to wonder. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt but I’d also remind you that such statements are illegal under the Danish law against dissemination of racist propaganda and people have been fined for making simlair statements on the internet.

You might also remember that those riots in England were sparked off the British National Party’s (a neo-Nazi party) march through those areas, sure there are always problems with intergration but in this respect there’s nothing differenitaing the Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Caribbean immigrants in these respects.

Somewhat OT, my previous post reflects a planning perspective, and only scratches the surface of the social issues involved.

Wonderful! Rather than address his points, threaten him with jail time! That’ll show him! Another excellent (if somewhat overused by the Left) ploy was to start the conversation off with accusing him of being a racist Nazi. Now, instead of dealing with the problem of integrating radically different cultures, he has to defend himself from your baseless claims!

Well done, sir.

Because they aren’t about those locations.

That’s sorta the point: it’s not just poverty. Poverty is part of it, but it’s not the whole of it. The characters in Boyz N the Hood are poor in the sense that their options are limited due to finances, but they aren’t poor in the almost starving, no disposable income sense. They’re on the borderline between the underclass and lower middle class, with moving up in the world a real possibility. Much of the tragedy of the movie would have been lost if the characters had been in a truly hopeless situation to begin with.

MC: what statements are you talking about?
[Fixed quote tag. – MEB]

I am not threatening Winstion with anything.

This is a contiunation of another thread in which Winston made claims about Muslims and rape in Denmark, colour me cynical, but last time I heard this claim it was on another bulletin board from someone with other ‘interesting’ ideas about Muslims. The claims originate from Denmark’s far-right DPP.

More of your silly baseless accusations, I don’t know why I even respond to claims made by a know rapist and paedophile. As far as I’m concerned people who, like MC, have on this very board published as disgusting statements regarding rape and sex with underage boys, have absolutely no place on this fine, upstanding atheist/agnostic discussion board. And while I’m at it let me inform you that both rape and paedophilia are indeed serious crimes in Britain which are punished with extensive stay in jail – perhaps even a trip to Australia.







Ps. The above is totally fictitious, but just go to show the kind of argumentation MC seems to find appropriate. And as much as I love to be insulted MC (maybe you would also like to call me a donkey while you’re at it?), it gets old really fast – so for the future I would prefer if you could perhaps leave my person out of it, and concentrate your, vast no doubt, intelligence on the subject of the thread.

Colour me clueless, but if you want to continue a thread why don’t you do so in the appropriate thread instead of another, completely unrelated, thread? And again these charming accusations that you throw about so liberally. Perhaps you did not read the OP, but the subject of the discussion is in fact not my person – but integration of immigrants in Europe. Now I consider myself fairly thick skinned, so am not overtly touched by your silly posts. But for the record I think they reveal you as a foolish person, with an argumentation technique (read mudslinging) that leaves a deal to be desired. If I actually had repeated some Nazi lore, such a thing would have been easy to ridicule, that you choose not to do so – but instead concentrate on my person tells something about the strength of your position.

Ahh, but I disagree. You see I think the riots were sparked off by the rioters’ response to this legal (if revolting) march. You may not like Nazis, I certainly do not, but seeing as England is in fact a democracy of some sort, opinions that you disagree with even find ridiculous and disgusting are part of what makes it a democracy. So I think that the riot was sparked off by the rioters lack of understanding of what constitutes a democracy; quite possible due to pitiful integration.

I have never claimed Islam is the mother of all integration blocks. However I do think it plays its role, as one of a number of ingredients that make integrations so difficult. Now isn’t that what we’re supposed to discuss – why are you so afraid of that MC?

Moderator’s Note: All right, simmer down or take it to the Pit.

That’s an excellent point. In a sense you should be grateful to MC Master of Ceremonies for illustrating your point about denial of the problem via accusations of fascism.

Until recently, America had “melting pot” challenges to a greater degree than Europe. Some European intellectuals were prone to lecture the US on our immoral conduct vis a vis minorities. Now they have similar challenges.

Over the years, the US has made its share of policy mistakes in handling minorities. We also got some bits right. Europe could sidestep some problems by looking at which American policies worked and which ones failed. Of course, that would require European opinion leaders to admit that they could learn something from America.