Islamophobia in the West: Measuring and Explaining Individual Attitudes

Since the late 1980s, growing migration from countries with a Muslim cultural background, and increasing Islamic fundamentalism related to terrorist attacks in Western Europe and the US, have created a new research field investigating the way states and ordinary citizens react to these new phenomena. However, whilst we already know much about how Islam finds its place in Western Europe and North America, and how states react to Muslim migration, we know surprisingly little about the attitudes of ordinary citizens towards Muslim migrants and Islam. Islamophobia has only recently started to be addressed by social scientists.

With contributions by leading researchers from many countries in Western Europe and North America, this book brings a new, transatlantic perspective to this growing field and establishes an important basis for further research in the area. It addresses several essential questions about Islamophobia, including:

  • what exactly is Islamophobia and how can we measure it?
  • how is it related to similar social phenomena, such as xenophobia?
  • how widespread are Islamophobic attitudes, and how can they be explained?
  • how are Muslims different from other outgroups and what role does terrorism and 9/11 play?

Islamophobia in the West will be of interest to students and scholars of sociology, religious studies, social psychology, political science, ethnology, and legal science.

Dutch Minister In Favor of Immigration

7 October 2011

Dutch Immigration Minister Gerd Leers, stated in a recent interview that “migration enriches our society”. The member of the Christian Democrats stated that a society which tries to curb immigration is “on the wrong track” and said that he regrets the anti-immigration political and social debate of the past years.

“Irregular Migration“ – an Interview with Dita Vogel

20 February, 2011

Refugees, persecutees, undocumented immigrants, aliens without residence status – hundreds of thousands of them live in EU countries. The constant risk of being deported forces them to go underground, work under exploitative conditions and live without access to medical care. An interview with Dr. Dita Vogel, who is in charge of the research area “Irregular Migration” at the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).

Dr. Vogel, how many “illegal migrants” are there in Germany at present?

Nobody knows exactly how many persons without residence status are currently living in Germany. According to estimates arrived at by our institute, 200,000 to 400,000 is a realistic figure. The number of illegal residents has been declining for years. Our maximum estimate for 2005 was as high as 700,00 undocumented persons. The decline is to some extent related to the enlargement of the EU, which has led to numerous immigrants such as those from Poland gaining legal residence status. A similar trend can be observed in other EU countries, where regulatory programmes and the economic crisis have likewise contributed to the decline.

You use the term “irregular migration” – why?

Irregular migration is a term that is gaining increasing acceptance in international organisations and scientific discussion. Irregular migrants are people who are not entitled to reside in a country under that country’s law. They were not permitted to enter it and have done so nevertheless, or should have left the country and have remained there. Official texts often speak of “illegal residence”. The term “illegal residents” is frequently felt to be stigmatizing.

Are all “irregular migrants” refugees and persecutees or rather people with entrepreneurial spirit and the courage to take risks?

The two are not mutually exclusive. Refugees or persecutees who manage to get as far as Germany will generally not be among the weakest and poorest in their home countries. Illegality is often a transitional stage: they enter the country illegally, apply for asylum and may end up going underground again, if they are unable to justify their reasons for seeking asylum or fail to have their grounds for fleeing their countries recognized as entitling them to refugee status.

But many of them work illegally… Many irregular migrants succeed in joining Germany’s underground economy, finding employment in domestic service, for instance, or in restaurants and on farms or building sites. Despite low wages, some of those who are employed in this way manage to earn a living through their industry and entrepreneurial spirit. Others are cheated of their wages and don’t know how to defend themselves.

Given the tougher border controls, how do they gain entry to EU member states without documentation?

Illegal entry by boat across the Mediterranean or to the Canaries is the most widely known route, but certainly not the most frequent. We can assume that most irregular migrants nowadays enter the country legally, as tourists for example, or manage to pass the border controls with forged documents.

How do the destination countries deal with irregular migrants? Is the situation in Germany comparable with that found in the other EU member states?

Basically, all EU member states agree, on the one hand, that human rights must be upheld, irrespective of residence law, and on the other, that people without a right of residence must leave the EU as soon as possible – preferably voluntarily, by force if necessary. Legalizations should only be possible in exceptional cases. However, there are still wide differences in the mode of implementation employed by the various member states. In Germany, for example, civil servants are subject to a duty to pass on data and must report cases of illegal residence to the competent foreigners’ authority. It was not until last year, that this duty was qualified in recognition of the fact that it might stand in the way of children attending school or people receiving emergency hospital treatment. The qualified duty must now be put into practice in the field, so that parents without residence status will send their children to school and dare to go to hospital for emergency care. In other countries, cooperation on the part of officialdom is less extensive.

Ways out of illegality

What ways are there out of illegality?

The primary and most important route is voluntary repatriation to one’s home country. For many people, illegality is only a stage in their lives. They return home because they have achieved their income goal or the situation in their home country has improved or because they cannot bear to live a life of illegality any longer.

And in the receiving country?

Some countries have legalization programmes. Other countries – such as Germany – temporarily suspend deportation of those who cannot be deported. Migrants thus enter a grey zone, which may end in renewed illegality, legality of return.

The EU intends to take steps to combat exploitative practices and prohibit the employment of irregular migrants through strict controls – will that help?

In the final analysis, the provisions on uniform penalties and controls are very vague. The mode of implementation is left up to the individual member states. What is more important is the fact that the Employer Sanction Directive of 2009 lays down that the states should have effective mechanisms in place that allow employees to lodge complaints against employers, also through third parties such as trade unions. The battle against the worst cases of exploitation of illegally employed third-country nationals, involving cases where persons without status are cheated of their wages, can only be fought with employees, not against them. This, in turn, protects German employees, as nobody can compete against a dumping price of zero euros an hour.

Others recommend preventing immigration in the country of origin – what do you think of this recommendation?

This is largely reality. Visas are only granted after close scrutiny and airline companies that have not checked passengers’ documents properly must transport them back to their home countries and bear any ensuing costs. This method functions but has negative side-effects that have not been sufficiently investigated, e.g. the extent to which desirable visitors are deterred from travelling there. Stricter border controls also tend to lead to an extended period of stay of illegal migrants because re-entering the country or moving to and fro becomes risky. In academic circles, this type of phenomenon is also referred to as the “ratchet effect”.

Volker Thomas conducted the interview. He is a free-lance journalist in Berlin and heads the Thomas Presse & PR agency.

Translation: Mary-Lou Eisenberger
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Online-Redaktion
August 2010

North Africa changes, and so should Europe’s migration policy

by Astrid Ziebarth

BERLIN – It is about 300 kilometers (185 miles) from Tunis to the
Italian island of Lampedusa, as many current Tunisian migrants could
tell you. From Alexandria, Egypt, the closest EU point is the Greek
island of Crete, about four times as far. But immigrants departing Egypt
would be ill-advised to head there. Rather, they should join the
Tunisians in Lampedusa if they want to have a better chance at claiming
refugee asylum in the European Union.

After the upsurge of immigrants from Tunisia to Italy, the EU will most
likely see increased migration from Egypt due to the breakdown of
Egyptian border controls after the revolution—a lack of law and order
that is likely to get worse before it gets better. This poses two
challenges for the EU. First, the need to reevaluate how the EU treats
refugees and asylum-seekers, as epitomized by the dysfunctional Greek
asylum system. Second, the question of how the EU can control
Mediterranean migration inflows through targeting the root causes of
migration.

Currently, policymakers in Italy and the EU are trying to get things
under control on Lampedusa, more or less successfully fending off a
larger discussion about adjusting the EU asylum and refugee system.
Northern European countries like Germany conveniently hide behind the
Dublin II agreement, which holds that irregular migrants have to file
their asylum claim in the first EU country they entered, which for most
North African migrants means in Greece or Italy. So these countries are
at the forefront of protecting the EU’s external border.

It is no secret that immigrants try to steer clear of entering through
Greece due to miserable conditions there for refugees and asylum
seekers. Reports about physical abuses while in Greek policy custody and
detention centers abound. The hardships they face in Greece was
confirmed in a January ruling by the European Court of Human Rights,
which concluded that returning asylum seekers to Greece from any other
EU country violates the European Convention on Human Rights because of
the inhuman conditions and treatment returnees face in Greece.
Immigrant rights advocates hope that it will not be long before Italy
faces similar charges due to Italy’s dubious border-control agreements
with Libya, which frequently result in the mistreatment of refugees. If
the EU cannot guarantee that fundamental rights are respected in their
member states for refugees and asylum-seekers, it is time to face this
challenge squarely. Top priorities should be burden-sharing within the
EU and better support of Southern EU member states that are clearly
overstrained in dealing with migration flows in a humanitarian manner.

Alleviating the inhuman conditions facing immigrants is only a
short-term solution, however. Migrants will try time and again to cross
the Mediterranean, and traffickers will find alternative migration
routes. If the EU wants to fight root causes of migration then it should
emphasize the Euro-Mediterranean trade partnerships. Helping to support
political and economic stability in Tunisia and Egypt through greater
European trade and investment will be the key, as those countries have
not only been sending and transit countries but have become major
destination countries for Sub-Saharan migrants. More coordinated efforts
for aid effectiveness and business cooperation are needed, and sticking
to the assistance pledges made at the 2005 G8 summit by European Union
members would help. So far, only the United Kingdom, despite heavy
austerity measures, has kept the target, and Italy is far behind. It
might very well be that, for a short time, migration flows would go up
with increasing stability and prosperity in the region as it is never
the poorest who take on a migration journey. But a larger concept of
migration and development policies needs to be employed alongside border
management. In the end it is jobs and secure livelihoods that lets
people stay where they want to live.

Maybe policymakers should follow on the surprising findings of the
public opinion poll / Transatlantic Trends: Immigration,
carried out by the German Marshall Fund and its partners, which found
that large pluralities of the public in the surveyed Mediterranean
countries of France, Italy, and Spain see increasing development aid to
poorer countries as the most effective policy to reduce irregular
immigration, more so than increasing national border controls.

It seems that geographic proximity does let the Southern European public
see a bit clearer what the real challenges are and how they could be
tackled. It’s time for the rest of Europe to listen to those on the
front lines.

Astrid Ziebarth is Program Officer with the German Marshall Fund’s
Immigration and Integration program in Berlin

Interview with the Senegalese Sociologist Amsata Sene Last Stop Senegal

Many young Senegalese want to go to Europe to escape unemployment and poverty. They risk their lives to fulfil this goal. Of those that make it, most are deported back to Senegal. Naima El Moussaoui spoke to the Senegalese sociologist Amsata Sene about the causes and the consequences of irregular migration to Europe

Mr Sene, here in Dakar I’ve only met one young Senegalese man who said he wanted to stay in Senegal. Those who get the chance leave the country. How can the situation of young people in Senegal be best described?

Amsata Sene: Just imagine you spend the whole day sleeping or drinking tea. Imagine you’re totally desperate and without any kind of future prospects. Imagine you don’t even have enough money to cover life’s basic needs … these young people have nothing more to expect from life. They are in a situation that can be described as “social marginalisation”. They can neither satisfy their needs, nor the needs of their parents.

The one who says he’s staying in Senegal is the one who’s managing to secure the necessities of life here in this country. But we’re still a long way off from being able to say that this applies to the majority of the population in Senegal or in Africa as a whole. Unfortunately to date we’ve not seen any serious or sound political solution that has succeeded in pulling the Senegalese out of this misery. That’s why to a certain extent one can say that the phenomenon of clandestine migration is a result of the political failures of African governments.

Many of these young Senegalese, who arrive in the Canary Islands in their flimsy “pirogues” and are sent back home – or repatriated as it’s officially known – blame the Senegalese government for their return, not the Spanish authorities. Why is that?

| Bild: A Senegalese refugee after his return at the beach in Dakar (photo: dpa)
Bild vergrössern The illusion of fast cash and economic success in Europe: Thousands of Africans undertake the risky sea crossing to Europe every year and can expect to be deported immediately back to their homeland | Sene: Strangely enough they all think that. There’s an explanation for it: All these young people say this because the Spaniards tell them: “We’d like you to stay here with us, but your government does not approve, and there’s nothing we can do about that.”

How do you explain the fact that the Senegalese people believe this?

Sene: If we try to analyse the circumstances of their return, we could say the following: They are for example woken up in the middle of the night and told to pack their things. They are often given a form. But many of these Senegalese can’t read, they only recognise certain words. Young people told me that at the top of these pieces of paper were the names of Spanish cities such as Barcelona.

They are told: “You’re going now,” and not informed as to their exact destination. In this kind of situation, Senegalese people tell themselves: “We’re going to Europe.” For this reason they get onto the bus without resistance, after they’ve willingly packed their things. Then they arrive at the airport and suddenly they are surrounded by police officers. They are apprehended, led away in handcuffs and sent back to Senegal on the next plane.

After an experience such as this, the young people say that they didn’t want to escape from the refugee camp, because they were completely safe. They say that they were free, not in police detention and above all with exit permits for Spain. They say: “We were sure that we were allowed to stay – if only because people treated us so well here.” All this just goes to demonstrate the great naivety of these young migrants.

Bild vergrössern Desperate flight: Some 5,000 African boat refugees arrived on the coast of Spain last year alone | What kind of image of Europe do these young people have?

Sene: The image that younger generations have of Europe is somewhat mixed. Although they regard life in Europe with a certain mistrust, they don’t doubt that it pays off. They are certain that they will achieve things and earn the kind of money that would be unthinkable if they stayed in Senegal. The indicator for the intensity of their motivation is the brother, the friend or the neighbour who returns to Senegal from Europe.

In this sense you can spend all day telling this young person that life in Europe can also be hard…but if he has a friend or a neighbour from the area who’s the same age, who’s come from Europe and during his holidays in Senegal he builds a house, drives a car, marries a woman and gives his family money, then there’s no point in staying anymore. You can no longer dissuade this young person from leaving the country. Because proof of the success it can bring is right under his nose.

That means that illegal migration is primarily driven by the desire to find work in Europe, get established somewhere and send money to the family.

Sene: Many of these migrants don’t have any professional training. Their aims are obvious. If you ask them: “What would you like to do in Europe?”, they reply that they want to go there to work. Once they arrive there, they take any work they can get. What interests them about Europe is the money. It’s not the culture, or the landscape, or anything else. None of them talk about the people in Europe. It’s as though there are no people there at all.

Interview conducted by Naima El Moussaoui

© Qantara.de 2010

Translation: Nina Coon

A mosque may appear in the center of Saint-Petersburg

City authorities do not exclude the possibility of building a mosque in Sennaya square in the center of Saint-Petersburg. Currently the City Planning Council is developing a reconstruction plan for the site. The plan should first, however, include reconstruction of the Assumption Church, destroyed in 1960’s.

“Today [Sennaya square] has become a specific area due to thousands of migrants from Caucasus and Asian republics living here. Want it or not, we can no longer neglect their national and religious peculiarities and demands, we have to face this process”,–says Serguey Sokolov, former chief architect of Saint-Petersburg.

According to the latest population census held in 2002 over 70,000 people of Muslim origin live in Saint-Petersburg. Experts, however, say the number may be much higher taking in consideration ever-growing migration flows.

Meanwhile only one mosque is available for Saint-Petersburg adherents of Islam, along with a couple of prayer rooms.

Minister calls for giving youth of immigrant backgrounds same opportunities as other Germans

Armin Laschet, Minister for Intergenerational Affairs, Family, Women and Integration in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, discussed the transformation of the migration model of society and the continued lack of advancement opportunities for immigrants in Germany. In this interview he argues that the social and ethnic background of a person must and will cease to play a role. Especially in the case of young Turks, equal opportunities are far from being met, which is also why some university graduates of Turkish background return to the country of their parents in hope for better opportunities. Laschet says, “I believe that if we highlight the success stories that already exist, then a mood will develop in which people will say, ‘I’m staying here. This is where I was born and it really is my country.'”

Post-Immigration Minorities, Religion and National Identities

Registration is now available for the Bristol-UCL Leverhulme Programme on Migration and Citizenship conference on Post-Immigration Minorities, Religion and National Identities, 14-15 November, 2008 in Bristol. A limited number of places are available for non-paper givers and those not connected to the Programme.

The Leverhulme Programme team will address topics based on the following themes: Ethnic Enclaves and Economic Integration, Social Capital, Gender and Differential Educational and Economic Outcomes, National Identity, Citizenship and Religious ’Difference’ and Majoritarian Identities and Resentment of Multiculturalism.

Keynote speakers will address issues in relation to contemporary issues on minority ethnicity, religion, integration and national identity, and include:

  • Professor Zygmunt Bauman (Leeds)
  • Professor Craig Calhoun (New York University and President of the Social Science Research Council)
  • Professor Reina Lewis (London College of Fashion)
  • Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh (Westminster)
  • Professor Roland Robertson (University of Pittsburgh and University of Aberdeen)

Over 50 additional papers will be presented. The conference will begin with registration at 9.30 – 10.30am on Friday, 14th November and the final paper session will conclude at about 6pm on Saturday, 15th November, followed by a dinner at 7.30pm.

Please find a registration form for the conference on our website here.

Contact: Sara Tonge (Leverhulme Conference Administrator)

Further details of the programme and centre.

“Les Musulmans en Europe et les defis de l’enseignement Islamique”

L’Union européenne, avec ses 27 États, s’étend désormais aux pays de l’Europe de l’Est qui entretiennent une relation avec l’islam et sa civilisation ancrée dans l’histoire. De ce fait, le nombre de musulmans en Europe – près de 50 millions aujourd’hui – s’est considérablement accru, avec son lot de fantasmes sur la “possible islamisation” du vieux continent.

Il y a quelques semaines, le journal “Belgique libre” diffusait par exemple un article déclarant que Bruxelles – dont les musulmans constituent le tiers des habitants – sera musulmane dans vingt ans. Olivier Service, chercheur en sociologie à l’université Catholique de Louvain, considère pour sa part que d’ici quinze à vingt ans, les musulmans seront majoritaires en nombre en Belgique du fait de leur croissance démographique.

Le journal français “le Figaro”, quant à lui, écrit que le nom “Mohammed” est devenu, depuis l’année 2001, le premier nom dans les classes.

Enfin, une étude réalisée par l’Organisation du Centre de Recherche Chrétienne à Londres, mentionne que le nombre de croyants fréquentant les mosquées en Grande Bretagne dépasse largement celui chrétiens fréquentant les églises en Angleterre et aux Pays de Galle. Si ce processus se poursuivait, on comptera 678000 personnes assistant à l’office dominical en 2020 pour 683000 musulmans assistant à la prière du vendredi.

L’ensemble de ces points de vue conforte l’idée d’une présence relativement récente et perçue comme intrusive des musulmans en Europe. Pourtant, au plan historique, dès le début du vingtième siècle les États européens ont puisé une main-d’œuvre dans les anciennes colonies, surtout dans les pays musulmans. La France s’appuyait sur son vivier d’Afrique du Nord et sub-saharienne. Au même moment, la Grande-Bretagne s’appuyait sur le sous-continent Indien (Pakistan et Bangladesh). Au début des années 1960, l’Allemagne développera une politique d’utilisation de la main-d’œuvre turque et, plus récemment, ce sont les pays du sud de l’Europe, tels que l’Espagne et l’Italie, qui recruteront la main d’œuvre du sud méditerranéen.

Un second aspect de l’émigration à prédominance musulmane vers l’Europe, assez souvent occulté d’ailleurs, est celui des “cerveaux” ambitieux formés aux sciences des pays développés et spécialisés dans différents domaines. Avec le temps, ces émigrés sont devenus des cadres nationaux collaborant parfois à l’orientation de l’enseignement par la gestion d’établissements scientifiques et pédagogiques en Europe. Ces intellectuels ont, d’une certaine façon, imposé la présence de l’islam en tant que culture, doctrine et prédication. Certains, parmi ces intellectuels, alimentent les réflexions concernant les nouvelles doctrines islamiques spécialisées en matière de minorités, d’intérêts prioritaires, d’environnement ou encore de citoyenneté.

Wave of illegal immigrants reaches Sicily

Several recent incidents of illegal migration in just a couple of days sparked concern among Sicilian officials. A six-meter boat carrying 31 migrants arrived at the port of Lampedusa, and others were found on one of the Pelagie islands near Lampedusa in a small wooden boat. In a separate incident just a day later, 106 immigrants also arrived at the same port. taly has the European Union’s longest coastline – 4500 kilometers – making it a favorable destination for migrants, and also difficult to police.