Geert Wilders has publicly announced that the influx of non-Western immigrants to the Netherlands is costing Dutch society 7.2 billion euros per year. Wilders, leader of the far- right Freedom Party, bases his claims on a research report commissioned by the party from the Nyfer economic research unit. Nyfer concluded that immigrants to the Netherlands rely more on public services and are paying fewer taxes than the average native Dutch person. Non-Western immigrants are also less likely to use subsidized child care or become involved in higher education, and have smaller state pensions because they do not meet the 50 year residency requirement. The figure was derived by calculating the net contribution of immigrants to the public sector, and does not include effects on the labour or housing market.
Wilders called the results ‘shocking’and claims that the figures confirm a need for measures restricting immigration from Islamic countries and elsewhere. Labour leader Job Cohen responded to the report by stating he would “never take the costs of a human being, whether immigrant or native, as a starting point for any policies”. The report is released in the run up to national elections scheduled for June 9, 2010.
With the rise of new economic powers such as India and China, as well as the ever-growing population with foreign origins in Europe, universities in Austria have begun to recognize the importance of intercultural communication as a field of study. Master’s programs in “Migration management” have been created at the University of Salzburg in cooperation with the Austrian Integration Fund, while the Danube University now offers a specialized course of study entitled “Islam and Migration in Europe.” Approximately half the students enrolled in these courses have migratory backgrounds.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab spent 2005-08 living in a 3-bedroom apartment in London’s West End as an engineering and business finance student at University College London. Experts wonder whether those years, characterized by anger over the Iraq War and the 2005 London subway/bus bombing, could have played a role in radicalizing Abdulmutallab.
While London is an exciting city for Muslims from other countries with its higher education options, jobs, and distance from family home, it is also described by Mamoun Fandy, International Institute for Strategic Studies as “a mecca of jihad.” The years Abdulmutallab spent there saw a spike in the spread of radical Islamic ideas.
Today, Muslims still have access to many different interpretations of Islam in London, including “intense Koranic views.”
“I’ve felt for a long time that if radical Sharia law comes to the rest of the world it will start on the streets of London,” says a Pakistani expert on militant Islam. “Too many clerics today, even moderate ones, don’t talk on Muslim life in a secular state. Young Muslims are smart, raised as British citizens. If they come from abroad, many have great hope and are often disillusioned. They live between worlds, in the cracks. When they go home to their families they are often more radical than their friends.”
“There remains in London a problem of assimilation for outsiders. The society is closed. The city is open, but the people are not,” Fandy said.
At this point in the investigation, his background and path to violent jihad is still unclear. One source claims he was recruited to militant Islam while living in London. Another claims he was already espousing radical views while still in boarding school in West Africa, before he ever went to college. But the US is now questioning whether Britain is posing a major threat to national security.
A plan to launch the country’s first four-year accredited Islamic college is moving closer to fulfilling its vision. Advisors to the project have scheduled to have a June vote to decide whether the proposed Zaytuna College – what some are calling a “Muslim Georgetown” – can open in the fall of next year. Imam Zaid Shakir and Sheikh Hamza Yusuf of California have spent years planning the school, which will offer a liberal arts education and training in Islamic scholarship. “As a faith community our needs aren’t any different than the needs of any other faith community,” Shakir told the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals. Others have tried to start Muslim colleges around New York and Chicago, but such previous plans have remained obscure or quickly unfolded; Zaytuna college, however, appears to be a real potential.
Due to the lack of adequate channels of Islamic education, from mosque-centered activities to websites run by mainstream, non-fundamentalist Muslims, second- and third-generation Muslim youth in Germany are increasingly losing touch with their origins. Small local initiatives set up to fill this gap are gradually cohering into wider, national institutions like the Lifemakers. In a bid to recapture Islamic youth, such groups are also increasingly involved in youth activities more social than religious, such as sports, films, debating, and placements in higher education.