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Capsule Review

The Myth of the Muslim Tide: Do Immigrants Threaten the West?

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The Myth of the Muslim Tide: Do Immigrants Threaten the West? (Vintage)
The Myth of the Muslim Tide: Do Immigrants Threaten the West? (Vintage)
By Doug Saunders
Vintage, 2012 208 pp. $15.00 Purchase

The topic of Muslim immigration resonates among those who indulge nostalgic nationalism, religious prejudice, or even right-wing extremism -- but also among those with an understandable fear of sudden social change. It is a subject ready-made for sensationalist journalists, resulting in a public debate poisoned by misinformation. Against that tide, Saunders has written a must-read takedown of anti-Muslim conservatives, demonstrating that their major claims are simply false. He debunks scaremongering about an emergent Muslim majority and disproves the notions that Islamic culture is impossible to assimilate and that most Muslim immigrants hold violent anti-Western views. Those slanders resemble the ones directed a century ago at Irish, Jewish, and Balkan newcomers, some of whom also had large families, required their women to be covered, and held heterodox religious beliefs that included some anti-Western ideologies. Today, Saunders concludes, the ideological clashes that matter most are taking place within Islam, and the central imperative is to create more economic and political opportunities for Muslim newcomers -- an area in which Western governments have as much responsibility as the immigrants themselves.

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