Integration of Muslims in U.S., West Might Be Easier Than Seems

(Photo Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / Getty Images)

Integration is one of the measures by which one measures the progressiveness of a society. Equal opportunities for all should be a given in a democratic society. For integration to work requires more than mere equality.

We shouldn’t only look within our own communities, which is of course the easiest thing to do and the default mode. Rather, we must look beyond these walls.

Muslims in the West are in a difficult position. Many want to integrate but factors such as religious differences, sharia law, traditions and the status of women pile up.

The greatest problem is of course the spread of terror from other parts of the world. The disaffected are the most influenced by radical ideas. The least integrated are the most prone to carrying out terror attacks.

For integration to succeed we need to demonstrate how it contributes to creating a better environment for all, including the Muslims themselves. This trumps a mutual focus on negatives and suspicions of the unknown.

The Solution

Societal groups should put a greater emphasis on recognizing their similarities and their differences.

Westerners should get to know the Muslims in their midst and vice versa. That could take the form of reciprocal mosque and church visits, communal meals and town-hall meetings where common problems are discussed alongside those that specifically affect the Muslim community. We need to understand that the problems facing Muslims are our problems too.

When Muslim communities feels less disaffected and that someone is listening it will automatically lead to a decrease in radical elements. It will be that much harder for ISIS and al-Qaeda to recruit from their ranks. The Muslim communities themselves will act as deterrents to extremism. And that is likely far more effective than external attempts to counter radicalism.

Tell us your ideas about what you or your community could do to be proactive to foster integration. Do you have a personal story about an integration and what that looked like? Do you think patriotism (as opposed to identity-based on religion) can help promote integration?”