In This Review
Like most genuine experts on the subject, Leiken rejects the notion spread by journalists and pundits that significant numbers of European Muslims are "Islamofascists" and that European policy toward Islam is a blanket failure. Instead, in Leiken's view, the success of national policies intended to integrate second-generation Muslim immigrants varies greatly. The question is why. Ironically, uncritical official tolerance has bred conflict. The British government embraced multiculturalism, encouraging Muslims to form separate enclaves, some of which fostered hostile extremism and even terrorism. France rejected multiculturalism, encouraging Muslims to assimilate. Less terrorism ensued, and the riots in recent years involving young French Muslims have had little to do with Islam or jihad and instead have been responses to unequal access to education and employment. Germany, to which Leiken pays less attention, lies somewhere in the middle. A less experienced observer might be tempted to draw specific policy lessons from this pattern, but Leiken rightly recognizes the importance of factors that are beyond government control: divergent domestic political cultures, the legacies of imperial rule, and the beliefs and attitudes immigrants bring with them from their home countries.
Laurence is more optimistic. His book is perhaps the subtlest and most solidly researched analysis of European policies toward Islam. He argues that until the mid-1990s, European governments excluded Islamic groups from domestic politics, with the result that such groups were captured by foreign governments and movements with radical agendas. Thereafter, European governments began "domesticating" Muslim communities by regulating them and incorporating their leaders into Islamic councils and state decision-making bodies in exchange for recognition of the legitimacy of the state. This was not appeasement, as critics have charged, but a bargain between state and church, not unlike those that European states struck with Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant communities in centuries past. Current trends suggest that among Muslim immigrants, these policies are leading to lower birthrates, accelerated citizenship, reduced religiosity, greater support for political institutions, and a more diverse civil society. It is too early to know whether this will defuse the cycle of exclusion and violence entirely, but Laurence establishes firm ground for hope.