Rethinking Church, State, and Modernity: Canada Between Europe and the USA

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Volume Laval University. Oxford Academic. Google Scholar. Cite Citation. Permissions Icon Permissions. Article PDF first page preview. In , Pew Research found that 59 percent of Europeans thought that immigrants imposed a burden on their countries. In addition, less than a third believe immigration has improved their countries, with 63 percent of Greeks and 53 percent of Italians, respectively, stating that immigrants have made things worse in their economically challenged countries. In most places, the welcome wagon has been sent out for repairs.

Nearly all European countries—even progressive ones like the Netherlands , France , Denmark , Norway , and Germany itself—have imposed stricter immigration controls over the last two years. What migration did occur, though, proved mostly successful.

RETHINKING CHURCH, STATE AND MODERNITY : CANADA BETWEEN EUROPE AND THE USA

France, for instance , benefited as far back as Charlemagne from enclaves of Syrian and Jewish merchants, who served as intermediaries with the wealthier and advanced Islamic civilizations of that age. Later, Armenians, eastern European Jews, Spaniards, Italians, Iranians, and Vietnamese settled in the country, each group largely integrating into the mainstream culture and economy.

Today, vast slums dot parts of the urban and suburban landscape in French and German cities. As a recent OECD study notes, immigrants in Europe have a harder time with socioeconomic assimilation than those coming to the U. This is particularly true for Muslim immigrants, who are employed at lower rates in Europe than in America, according to R Street and the Cato Institute.

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Part of the problem lies with economic change. Similar to the U. Many observers tie economic decline to rising crime, a trend widely associated with migration.

Most migrants continue to reside in European cities. The foreign-born percentages in Brussels, Zurich, and Geneva hover over 40 percent. The discussion of crime remains highly politicized. In Germany, getting an accurate snapshot of crimes committed by immigrants is extremely hard because each state has a different definition of immigrants or crimes. The BKA found that crimes attributable to immigrants increased by 79 percent between and , but mostly for nonviolent crimes such as theft, forged documents, or transportation fraud.

I n Europe, as in America, attitudes about immigration are closely tied to class. Popular it is not, particularly among working- and lower middle-class voters who are more likely to compete with newcomers for jobs, benefits, and social services. The shift in opinion has even occurred in Sweden , long proud of its tolerance but now coping with a social enmity unfamiliar to a historically homogeneous country. C ultural differences mainly drive the conflict between native Europeans and the new arrivals.


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Cultural conflict is not primarily the result of the migrants themselves. Earlier migrant waves arrived in Europe when the continent felt confident about its culture.

Rather than confront this societal threat, some European politicians and figures like the Archbishop of Canterbury have even suggested that Muslim sharia law—at least as it applies to banning blasphemy—could supersede national law. A nother distressing development tied to the new migration is the resurgence of anti-Semitism.

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Despite the much smaller Jewish footprint, anti-Semitism in Europe is intensifying. Some 90 percent of European Jews , according to recent surveys, have experienced anti-Semitic incidents. Some of this trend can be traced to the far Right, the historic incubator of anti-Semitism, the rise of which is tied to concern over migration. Similarly, a poll of European Jews found that the majority of anti-Semitic incidents came from either Muslims or from the Left, where the motivation is tied to anti-Israel agitation ; barely 13 percent traced it to right-wingers.