“In reporting on rising European-immigration tensions, there is a tendency to overestimate the role of Islam and to underestimate the role of the economic divide between natives and immigrants. The number of Muslims in Europe and the speed of demographic transformation are often widely exaggerated using unreliable estimates. In Sweden, currently 8 percent of the population originate in Muslim-majority countries. But surveys on religious self-identification show that only 3 percent of Sweden’s population self-identify as adherents of Islam. This should not be surprising given that a high share of immigrants to Europe from the Middle East are from Christian minorities such as Assyrians and Maronites.
Other immigrants from Bosnia, Iran, Kurdistan, and Turkey tend to be secular nonbelievers such as myself. For youth growing up in the West, the temptation of hedonistic Western culture over ascetic Salafism should not be underestimated. As I like to point out, American gangster rap is a stronger and more problematic cultural influence in the Swedish ghetto than is radical Islam. Of course, the small minority that sympathizes with extremism still leaves hundreds or thousands of potential terrorists.
It is here worth noting that cultural assimilation is closely linked to economic assimilation. The lack of economic integration of immigrants is leading to the emergence of a new ethnic class society in Europe, with occupational status becoming visibly linked to ethnicity. In office environments in Paris, Berlin, and Stockholm, janitors and cafeteria staff increasingly look and speak differently from management and white-color professionals. The so-called visible minorities of Europe are rarely allowed to forget their lower socioeconomic status or that they are outsiders who were never really welcomed by large segments of the native population. Despite lip service to the contrary, Muslim immigrants sense the silent collective distrust whenever some random extremist runs amok.
Compared with their European counterparts, Muslim migrants to the United States and Canada tend to be both better off economically and less likely to sympathize with radicalism. Among those European Muslims who are economically integrated, the overwhelming majority really have become culturally integrated as well. However, the ethnic economic divide in Europe is vast, and it’s increasing, with continued immigration from third-world countries.
In Sweden, immigrants now earn around 40 percent less on average than the native-born, a socioeconomic time bomb. Intergenerational mobility has not closed these gaps in Europe. Poverty and segregation tend to be passed on to a frustrated second generation who never asked to be born in countries where people who look like them are de facto second-class citizens. More than any bearded imams, the youth are radicalized by left-liberal Western media that blame these problems on European racism, capitalism, colonialism, U.S imperialism, and other updated forms of original sin.”