After the Boston bombings of April 2013, Fareed Zakaria featured Jonathan’s research in his Washington Post Op-Ed and on his CNN show GPS to draw lessons from Europe on immigrant integration in the United States:
“[...] One crucial reason the number of terrorism deaths is so low is that America does not have large pools of alienated immigrants. Polls repeatedly have shown that Muslim immigrants to the United States embrace core American values. The American assimilation machine continues to function well.
What’s surprising is that things have been improving in Europe, where Muslim migrants have often had much greater problems assimilating. Jonathan Laurence of Boston College, who has done extensive research on Muslim communities in Europe, found that before 1990 European countries largely ignored their Muslim populations and allowed the embassies of countries such as Morocco, Algeria and Saudi Arabia to cater to their needs by building mosques and training imams. “This wasn’t multiculturalism so much as indifference,” Laurence wrote recently. Those countries had little interest in helping migrants assimilate; in fact, their efforts were to do the opposite: Maintain ties with the old country and old ways.
Over the past two decades, Laurence argues, European countries have recognized the dangers created by their indifference and have sought to integrate Muslim migrants. Governments at all levels have engaged with Islamic communities, taking steps to include Muslims in mainstream society but also to nurture a more modern, European version of Islam. In effect, many governments are now dealing with Islam as they have other religions, creating Islamic councils, providing funding for cultural activities, representation in public forums and being mindful of religious practices and holidays.
In many countries, Germany most prominently, Muslim immigrants long were perennial outsiders who never stood a chance at becoming a part of the society in which they worked. That is changing. More Muslims are being granted citizenship and becoming more mainstream. Increasingly, their activism takes place within the system. Their leaders, Laurence writes, “have become responsible actors in an institutional setting, and they now have something to lose.” And while it is premature to declare any great successes, it’s worth noting that attacks crediting radical Islam appear to have leveled off or declined in recent years.
The United States can learn from European efforts to integrate Muslims [...]“
– Washington Post, April 26, 2013
Reviews of “The Emancipation of Europe’s Muslims”
Click here to order The Emancipation of Europe’s Muslims.
• “Perhaps the subtlest and most solidly researched analysis of European policies toward Islam… Laurence establishes firm ground for hope.”
– Foreign Affairs
• “Relying on extensive research and a wide range of interviews, Mr Laurence has written an original and thought-provoking study.”
– The Economist
• “A study of European governments’ recent approaches to their Muslim populations that usefully draws on the historic experience of other minorities in Europe”
– The New York Review of Books
• “[A] reference volume on the policies that governments across Western Europe have adopted in their attempts to better integrate Muslim communities”
– Washington Times
• “A very impressive book. It is historically informed, theoretically rich, and comprehensive in its scope.”
– Journal of Church and State
• “This ethnographically rich, well-documented book successfully reveals that European states (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK) have more similarities than differences in terms of their interactions with Muslims… It goes beyond simplistic dichotomies and clichés, and provides a much-needed, broad perspective on this important subject.”
• “Laurence’s book is filled with thoughtful reflections and deep insights about one of the most fundamental political issues of our time. [It] presents the result of a meticulous study of a long and complex political process, masterfully documented and made vivid with the help of a substantial body of evidence.”
– European Societies
• “Laurence’s study is rigorously researched and a noteworthy contribution to the field.”
– The International Spectator
• “A remarkably accurate and comprehensive study of European Islam that transcends clichés and polemics. Laurence brilliantly elucidates the long-term trends that are transforming the children of migrants into European Muslims, acknowledging the tensions as well as the achievements of the process.”
– Olivier Roy, European University Institute, Florence
• “A brilliantly mature book about a topic that frequently provokes sophomoric exaggeration. The book is remarkable for its practical acumen and comparative-historical depth. The Emancipation of Europe’s Muslims is a unique accomplishment. It presents a strong alternative to current so-called common wisdom.”
– Jytte Klausen, author of The Cartoons That Shook the World
• “A gem whose light shines in a direction and with an intensity that [Christopher Caldwell's] brooding darkness would not countenance.”
– Bruce B. Lawrence, Director of Islamic Studies, Duke University
• “A splendid comparison of the management of religious–and especially Islamic–conflict… Laurence arrays a range of convincing material to show that these countries followed similar pathways in managing their relations with Islam. The book holds out hope that Muslims may eventually be integrated within the political communities of these major European nations.”
– Sidney G. Tarrow, Cornell University
• Read the New York Times Op-Ed here
• Book Launch at The Brookings Institution with commentary by Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, Prof. Ömer Taspinar (Brookings) and Prof. Peter Mandaville (George Mason Univ.), February 2012. Transcript/audio available here.
• A conversation with the Princeton University Press Blog on recent controversies involving religious diversity in Europe.
“Emancipation” named 2012 Outstanding Academic Title
The Emancipation of Europe’s Muslims was named one of Choice Magazine’s “Outstanding Academic Titles: Top Books and Websites for 2012.” (Choice, v.50, no. 05, January 2013.)
Integrating Islam (Jonathan Laurence and Justin Vaisse) was named a 2007 Outstanding Academic Title.
Op-Ed and Interviews: Neither Integration nor Assimilation – Islam in Germany
“Islam in Deutschland: Doppelter Handschlag” Der Tagesspiegel, November 18, 2012. (PDF)
Two recent interviews on the same topic:
“The Berlin Journal,” NPR Berlin, November 2012
“Der Lange Weg zur Integration,” Paris-Berlin Magazine, November 2012.
• The Emancipation of Europe’s Muslims bei Amazon.de
Op-Ed: ‘No Bourgeoisie, No Democracy’: Obama’s Democratization Policy in North Africa
The op-ed “Obamas Genie,” appeared in the Tageszeitung on October 25, 2012 (available in English)
[See other commentary on US, Europe and the Arab awakening here]
Op-Ed: Romney, Obama and Transatlantic Relations
Click to read the Op-Ed in the Suddeutsche Zeitung, October 2012 (English version)
“In the first presidential debate of the US election season, Governor Romney landed on the word “military” or “defense” in four of his last five sentences. Defense spending may be the one foreign policy difference where Romney believes he can get a toehold against a President who has restored foreign policy dominance to the Democratic party for the first time in decades. It is also the fundamental dimension where Republicans and Democrats disagree vis-à-vis our relationship with Europe….”
Video: “Integration or Emancipation?” American Academy in Berlin
Click here to watch “Integration or Emancipation? European Muslims between Mosque and State,” Daimler Lecture, American Academy in Berlin, October 9, 2012
Briefing: Hollande Seeks Reset in Post-Arab Spring Maghreb
Jonathan Laurence, World Politics Review, October 2012
When crowds of protesters from Tunis to Cairo ignited what would become the Arab Spring in January 2011, it caught the government of then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy off guard. François Hollande, already campaigning to replace Sarkozy as president, saw an opening in Sarkozy’s initial hesitation and quickly promised to distinguish himself from his opponent’s “silence,” “incoherence” and “contradictory” diplomacy to restore French influence in the region. The demonstrations and uprisings in the Arab world allowed Hollande to draw attention away from the global financial crisis, where Sarkozy had staked his electoral argument for continuity, and toward North Africa, where France had lost both prestige and exports on Sarkozy’s watch.
Now president, Hollande will make his first state visit to an Arab country, Algeria, this December, marking the culmination of his effort to restore France’s standing in a region that is being actively courted by the United States and China. The visit also underscores the differences between Hollande’s approach to regional diplomacy and that of his predecessor.
Five years ago, Sarkozy came to power promising an end to “Françafrique,” shorthand for the cozy postcolonial relations between Paris and autocratic rulers in Northern and sub-Saharan Africa. However, Sarkozy demonstrated little interest in France’s former colonies and had no patience for their demands that Paris apologize and provide reparations for its colonial legacy. He hastily convened a Mediterranean Union under French leadership, but the project lacked clarity of purpose. The proposed union was half aspirational — it included Israel — and half realist, with figures such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali playing key roles. Sarkozy soon pivoted away from the Maghreb and invested in bilateral courtship of the Persian Gulf countries instead. After stumbling through the outset of the Arab Spring, he played a high-profile and vocal role in catalyzing support for the NATO intervention in Libya last year.
The post-Arab Spring environment has now created an opportunity for France to recast its ambitions in the region, and since taking office, Hollande has approached French relationships in North Africa on a smaller scale but with greater precision.. …
Click here to read the article in World Politics Review.
Op-Ed: Wrong Signals on Religious Rights in Germany
Click here to read “Wrong Signals,” Der Tagesspiegel, September 14, 2012 (Deutsch)
US Foreign Policy and the Arab Awakening
Excerpt from Jonathan Laurence, “Midwife” or “Spectator”? U.S. Policies towards North Africa in the 21st Century, Arab Society in _Revolt, Cesare Merlini and Olivier Roy, Eds. Brookings 2012
[See other US, Europe and the Arab awakening links from 2011 here]
The American foreign policy establishment’s collective dilemma was to know that the internal status quo was unsustainable, while nonetheless sustaining it through a combination of inertia and fear of the unknown consequences of regime change. The blunt talk of kleptocratic and autocratic tendencies that could be read in leaked diplomatic memorandums in 2010 exposed some of the pragmatic cynicism that lay behind American support for those regimes. (…)
Those who argue that the United States stayed ahead of events would point out that President Obama had in fact ordered contingency studies of succession scenarios soon after assuming office, and that he was the first in the situation room to know Mubarak would go. In his reportedly frank conversation with the Egyptian president on January 28, Obama respectfully urged his elder to read the writing on the wall. Relations between the Pentagon and the Egyptian and Tunisian militaries—whose senior officials remained in close contact throughout the unrest—may have been a key element in speeding their respective transitions. In this light, decades of foreign military funding, training,and support of civil society—mere tens of billions compared to Iraq’s trillions— offered a significant return. President Obama’s dispassionate handling of “democracy promotion” illuminates an important distinction with respect to his predecessor. The president’s calls to avoid violence in Tunis and Cairo—without saying much else publicly, at first—suggest a more patient view of the route taken by freedom’s march.