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France and Its Muslims

Courtesy Reuters

THE POLITICS OF ASSIMILATION

Over the past few years, terrorist bombings of the public transport systems of Madrid and London have sparked fears that Europe may be breeding its own crop of indigenous jihadists. Less understandably, those events have also sometimes been conflated with events such as the murder of the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a deranged fanatic, last fall's riots in the French banlieues, and recent protests over disparaging cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Together, these events have been taken as evidence that the immigration and integration policies of several European countries have all failed.

This diagnosis is glib and alarmist, and it overlooks more nuanced and encouraging sociological realities. What to do about homegrown Muslim terrorism is a serious question, of course, but it is not the only one worth asking. And too often it obscures a critical fact: that the vast majority of Europe's 15-20

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