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March 9, 2005
(Continued from: Immigration: Is Integration Failing?, part 1)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think we’d all agree that Western Europe has greater concerns over terrorism emerging from its immigrant population than does the United States. This is implicit in the preliminary statement for this panel and it is true even if we only focus on the Muslim immigrant populations in Europe and in the United States. As a result, American concern is much more focused on external threats, tightening immigration laws and practices to try to keep the threats outside the United States. Therefore, it seems worthwhile to me to study and compare differences and similarities between Europe and the United States that account for these differences.
I believe there are three kinds of comparisons worth making between Europe and the United States. First of all, differences which are simply not correctable; secondly, differences which may be correctable; and thirdly, similarities between our societies, which may be correctable.
In the first category, one uncorrectable difference is our different history. America is, in fact, a nation of immigrants. Every American, including Native Americans, is either an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants who came to what is now the United States from somewhere else. Most Americans are well aware of their family history and can identify where in the family tree their immigrant ancestors first came to the United States. Europe is simply different and this is a historical difference, which cannot be changed.
Another uncorrectable difference, as Bob has noted, is simply geographical proximity to countries of origin of Muslim immigrants, which facilitates their maintaining regular contact with their home countries. In contrast, Muslim immigrants to the United States are making a clearer break from their home countries if only because of distance, geography, which cannot be corrected. That’s simply a difference.
In the second category of differences which can be corrected, I want to note two important aspects of the complex U.S. immigration system, the most complicated in the world. First, U.S. immigration law draws a clear line dividing true immigrants from what we call non-immigrant, temporary visitors, students, and workers in the United States, and I notice here in Europe people use “immigrant” in a much broader sense than we do in the United States. Most of the foreigners in the United States, we would classify as non-immigrants. They’re not, in fact, immigrants. This difference allows the U.S. government to focus its security measures, such as call-in questioning and special registration, on the non-immigrant visitors only, without involving our true legal immigrants. Just to argue a bit with Mort, I don’t think any legal immigrants were involved in special registration program; in fact, they were explicitly excepted from it.
Second, legal immigrants to the United States not only have permanent legal residence in the United States, but they also have a clearly defined pathway from the first day that they enter the United States. They have a clearly defined pathway to full equal citizenship with all other Americans. Typically it requires five years of residence in the United States, plus some knowledge of English language and American civics. I know some European countries are moving in this direction but clearly further changes can be made towards an American-style legal permanent residence concept in Europe.
In the third category of similarities which must be corrected, in the United States, well, let me back up. In the United States, early in the twentieth century, there was a public-private partnership and campaign to Americanise newly arrived immigrants. This Americanisation campaign provided free English lessons, and lessons on American civics and customs, and was an important factor in assimilating and integrating a large wave of immigration that entered the United States in the early twentieth century. Unfortunately, this initiative disappeared in the U.S. during the 1920’s. It is something that I think both America and Europe should study and emulate, to facilitate the assimilation of immigrants into our societies.
Secondly, both Europe and America not only tolerate but actually encourage dual citizenship by allowing citizens to obtain two or more different passports and the accompanying claims on their loyalty. For example, I have advised my American students who qualify to go ahead and obtain a Greek, Italian or German passport to facilitate their ability to work and live anywhere in the E.U. without delays or complications. They need not transfer any loyalty to Europe. They can remain 100 percent loyal Americans with dual citizenship, but obviously this works both ways. I do not believe it is in the best interests of either Europe or the United States to continue this tolerance of dual citizenship and divided loyalty in our laws.
That concludes my formal remarks, but in the time remaining, since I’m the last speaker, I’d like to throw out some provocative responses to what my colleagues on this panel have already said. Let me just say that I think Christian terrorism is the entirely correct term to describe certain past practices of Christianity in Europe. Christian terrorism is absolutely the correct term to describe the Crusades. Christian terrorism is absolutely the correct term to describe the Inquisition. Islamic terrorism is absolutely the correct term to describe the enemy we all confront today.
Secondly, I want to say that as a former employee of the United States government in the area of immigration, I think the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws is entirely defensible regardless of the impact or lack thereof on the war on terror. I think it was entirely defensible before 9/11 and it’s entirely defensible after 9/11. In a democratic society, the laws that you enact should be enforced or they should be repealed. This is a contradiction we have in the United States and it’s one that we need to resolve.
Finally, to Mort Halperin’s suggestion that we need to reduce the illegal alien population, in the United States, I don’t want to turn this into an internal debate on American immigration policy, but I do want to say that I certainly agree with that point Mort made. One of the possibilities that he did not list was simply enforcing the immigration laws that are presently on the books. That would be one way to reduce the illegal alien population in the United States for the beneficial reasons that Mort Halperin has elucidated.
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Jan. Well, I think in the name of everyone I do want to thank all of the speakers for a very deep, thoughtful, precise, and short remarks. Since Jan has started the exchange, among the panelists, I’m going to ask you, lady and gentlemen, if you have any urgent remark to make on another of your colleagues. If not, we give the floor to the audience. Madame, la professeure.
Assia Bensalah Alaoui
Well, just a very brief response to the last assertion of my colleague. I have just a question to you. How can you fight jihad and practice crusades? I still contest the word Islamist terrorism.
Another word that I would like just to add is the close relationship between the specific context and the global war on terrorism, which seems to me extremely counterproductive because it is providing, through the media, opportunity for extremists to expand the recruiting base among angry youngsters who are unemployed and excluded.
Jan, you want to answer that?
Well, I’ll take a stab at it. I mean, I agree that using terms like war on global terrorism are extremely unuseful, unhelpful, and confusing. On the other hand, I think it’s very important that we identify what we are struggling against and what we are opposing. This is not a war on bombing, this is not a war on suicide bombing, this is not a war on any particular tactic that’s going on out there. This is war against a particular enemy and we need to name that enemy, and whether you want to call it Islamism or Islamic terrorism, we need to speak with sufficient clarity. We need not to dodge the issue because of political correctness.
I think when the 9/11 report is finally released, and you know portions of it have been withheld because it embarrasses the F.B.I., we will see that F.B.I. agents in the field made recommendations to headquarters that they look in particular at Muslim males who were taking flight training in the Unites States and launch a nationwide investigation on that issue. We will find, I believe, that headquarters said, “we can’t do that, that would be profiling. We’re not going to do that, we’re not going to launch a nationwide investigation of Muslim males in the United States doing flight training.” We all know what happened after that. It hasn’t been released, I think, because it’s embarrassing to the F.B.I. They were being politically correct at the cost of recognising the enemy that we’re up against and taking it on. That’s what I think we need to do.
I think that point has been examined as we see in the French parliament. L’assemblée est déclarée on this issue. Very briefly, because I do want the audience to have a go at this. Mort and Gilles, quickly, please.
Just to say, the enemy is not terrorism. It is particular people who engage in terrorist acts, and we can identify them more effectively by a much narrower definition than suggesting that it’s all the people with a particular religion. I also have to say, the FBI has an enormous capacity for blaming its excuses on advice given to it about how to behave properly, which they never apply where they are supposed to apply it, and then suddenly use it as an excuse for something else. Nobody would suggest that investigating people who were getting flight training, who were visitors to the United States, was racial profiling.
Two quickies. I couldn’t agree more with what I heard. I believe that terrorism is a symptom, it is not a cause. While we focus on the war on terror, the war on terrorism, in a way we satisfy ourselves with a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, but we do not get deep into the root of the phenomenon, which I believe is to a large extent a classical phenomenon where you have some vanguards or self-defined vanguards that at a defined moment for historical reasons are trying to mobilise the masses. We have a lot to do to compare what is happening now with anarchism at the beginning of the century, with the Red Brigades and terrorism in Spain or Germany in the 1970’s and 80’s, and that’s one thought.
The other point, I was very much taken when I heard Mr. Ting from the U.S., if I may say so, tell us that we should assimilate immigrants. You know this has been the standard French view, that the best thing in the world was to become French, I mean, what could you expect for? And we’ve been lambasted so much that we don’t dare say it anymore, particularly from multicultural, politically correct America. So, welcome back to the club.
Well, America now is the country of laïcité and we are multicultural. Alors, Monsieur Leiken, one minute and then we open the floor to the audience.
I’ll take less than a minute to say that the situation is not that there was a kind of a zeal to it to identify Muslim with terrorism on the part of counter-terrorists, officials, or others. In the manual, we’re covered from Manchester, England and in other Al-Qaeda manuals, one of the requirements for being in Al-Qaeda is to be a Muslim. Of the 387 mujahadeen that we studied, all of them were Muslims. We’ve got to face facts.
Thanks for the reminder. Alors, I have three first questions. Sir, please introduce yourself before you put the question, and do it briefly.
Delegate from the floor
Christopher Morris […] that haven’t been mentioned, or one was mentioned by Mr. Ramadan, which I think would be crucial for a discussion of this kind. Our interest in integration is not only interest in individuals who are, who become and act as terrorists, but also potential recruits and sympathisers.
There are two elements that haven’t been mentioned that strike me as exceedingly important. Mr. Ramadan mentioned the first. One is unemployment. European, especially French and German unemployment rates, have to be, I’m not an expert, I think they have to be a factor in this. Secondly, an element that no one seems to draw attention to is social policy with regard to people who are unemployed. I take it most of the alienated young men who live in this cité in the north of Paris, a lot of them are unemployed and have very bad prospects for employment. Secondly, most importantly, I take it a lot of them live in publicly subsidised housing, receiving various forms of assistance from the French government.
If you’re worried about integration because you’re worried about having within your society a large pool of angry young men who are potential recruits, I would think that unemployment rates would be a very, very important thing to address. Secondly, on social policy with regard to young, unemployed males.
I’m only moderator here so I will not answer, but as a legislator I know a little bit about this issue. I think you’re dead wrong. But I will let the speakers speak.
First of all the facts show that a lot of the attackers were not social victims at all. They were in fact educated people and they did not belong to the category you describe. Second, while it is true that the unemployment level is higher in the immigrant ghettoes –and we keep fighting the ghettoes, we want to break them up, and believe me, we put a lot of money in this– I think it’s wrong to equate unemployment with terrorism, simply. We may be accused of too much welfare state but if the welfare state is a cause of terror, I think we are asking the wrong question.
Now I don’t want to preempt a discussion here but one angle on all of this is, and I’m sorry to be so blunt, is the systemic failure of the origin countries, of the post-nationalist experiences in most of the Arab world, which produced a system which is undemocratic, a massive failure of economic development, a massive failure of alternance, of democratic change, and that is producing the bedrock for terror. Because they are desperate, what is the hope to cross the Mediterranean and this is where you have the terror, the roots of the problem, on which the minorities, and Gilles is right to use “revolutionary minorities”, exploit and try to raise clientele. So our system of actually taking them through, accompanying them through, flooding them with money may be overly generous, but it is not the root causation, I’m sorry to say.
I think we have to be much more frank to our colleagues on the other side of the Mediterranean and the entire region in obtaining change. Maybe not with tanks, for sure, but we have to obtain political reform. This must be the central goal of European policy.
Pierre, with all due respect, I agree more with the questioner than with what you’ve just said. I think the second point in particular about welfare policy is another important difference that I actually meant to include in my list but I forgot.
I think it has always been a part of American immigration policy regardless of whether we want high immigration or low immigration, that we’ve always said that immigrants can come to the United States but they’re not going to get any help from us. Indeed, in recent years, in the 1990’s, we passed welfare reform legislation in the United States deliberately intended to make sure that the last vestiges of access to social benefits are cut off, even to legal immigrants that come to the United States for a period of time. Indeed, being a risk of public charge, the chance that you may be susceptible to relying on government benefits is grounds for exclusion from the United States, for inadmissibility of otherwise qualified individuals coming to the U.S. as either […] how they can function in that society. You must seize the moment.
If you wait until people have become alienated from that society and say “Heck! Why would we want to become French? Why would we want to become American? We’re something else!” I think you’ve lost the opportunity. I think you have to seize the moment when immigrants first come and provide them that opportunity and that motivation to say “Go to work! It’s the only way to assimilate.”
I think you missed the thing. I think it’s a very fresh reminder of Bush’s policy, pleasant to some ears, unpleasant to others. I won’t enter into this.
Well, the reform act was Clinton’s policy.
Let’s do it in a series, you introduce yourself and try to be brief. Sir, please.
Delegate from the floor
Jean Piquet [… ?], University of Basel. I have one question and one comment. The question is the issue of the separation of politics and religion, which was in the European history a crucial moment and any wars and any terrorism in the last 400 years even it didn’t happen, that’s clear. My question is, would you think about, it’s a question to you, about the limitation of any, let’s say, religious law, inside modern or post-modern society that could be the sharia, it could be the Catholic church, it could be the Jewish Talmudic law, but the success story of immigration was always, as I understood it, this limitation by separation between politics and religion.
Then I have also a comment on this issue. Mr. Chairman, you said that you would also talk about the issue of anti-Semitism inside some radical Islamic and non-Islamic groups today.
Thank you, I’ll try to get to that if we have time. Sir, please.
Delegate from the floor
I’m Mark Sedgman [… ?] and thanks for Bob to mention my study. Let me push you a little bit. I, of course, have in the past argued that terrorism is probably linked to the failure of integration of diaspora communities. Is it so? Even though I’ve argued about that previously, if I look at other terrorist movements, they are linked to diaspora communities and those were fairly well integrated. Look at the Tamil tigers. You can’t really understand them without looking at the diaspora in Toronto and in London. If you look at the I.R.A., they were started in the United States in the 1910’s before the Troubles began in Ireland.
So this relationship between diaspora communities and terrorism are there, whether people seem to be integrated or not. I know that I’m arguing against what I’ve argued in the past but I’m just questioning because I don’t really believe myself.
The Corsicans won’t believe you either and the Basques either, because they’re not immigrated and they’re doing terrorism exactly from where they are. But thank you for the remark, Mr. Sedgman. Monsieur?
Delegate from the floor
I am Antonio Lorza from the University of Madrid. The first thing is that I am astonished there is no Spanish speaker on this… occupying himself about our problems. I can say in this sense that things are very clear in Spain. Islamic terrorists in Spain acted within Muslim, especially Magrebi immigration circles.
At the same time, things are very, very clear that the Moroccan workers, for example, the Moroccan Workers Association, has made very, very clear declarations that they don’t want any relationship with any kind of radical Islam, that they are against terrorism, that they want to be good citizens, and at the same time, even they ask the Spanish state, please free ourselves of Wahabi imams.
I think that things are here very clear that the presence of the Muslim and Magrebi immigrants –they have problems, they find xenophobic relations like in El Ejido, problems like in every country of Europe. But at the same time, in Spanish society, there’s no xenophobic accepted position against them or against Islam. That’s why I say I think that all this discourse about Islamophobia or about Islamic terrorism, for us, perhaps you don’t like it, but you insist too much in that.
I am a Basque and I speak about Basque terrorism, we can speak about German national socialism without thinking that Kant and Hegel would be offended. [...] In 1572, it was Christian, Catholic terrorism, and then Irish terrorism, then I think it must be pacified, perhaps you don’t like it but this kind of admonitions “don’t speak about that” is not the problem.
The last thing is I enjoyed very much the intervention of Mr. Tariq Ramadan because in his books, it’s not so clear about the terrorist actions. He condemns them always, clearly, but at the same time he explains. For example, your book Les musulmans d'occident, you say Muslims in the heart of the Western country must say clearly that terrorism cannot be accepted but you must fight against any kind of terrorism, in particular the terrorism of the states. Ah! There is always in Peut-on vivre avec l'Islam? you accept the figure of the jihad. In the book … I say but then why not to condemn clearly. The question is very clear, why not to condemn clearly? Afterwards make the criticism separated from the content, the moments in which you condemned the terrorist act. Because you accompany always the verdict that we can accept, that is very clear, there is no doubt about it, but you say always Bush has said, has signaled bin-Laden too soon, or that the Western countries have responsibility. There is always, especially in Palestine you are against terrorism against the Jewish people, but afterwards you write two pages explaining why they have no other issue. Why don’t they fight the Israeli army? Why do they kill civilians? I enjoyed you very much today because you didn’t add anything, why not change the discourse about that?
Muchísimas gracias por dos importantísimos puntos. Realmente, creo que está cambiando un poco. In one minute he will answer you because we have reached the time. Also, I’m not responsible for choosing the speakers and they are fine speakers. They will convert to Spanish nationality as they go out of the room.
Delegate from the floor
Thank you. I’m […]. I’m head of policy planning at the ministry of foreign affairs of Spain. My question: in Europe we have policies for integration, they work better or they work worse, but we have them. We have policies to deal with violence, with terrorism, also they can work better or worse, but we have them.
What we don’t have is an answer for people who just don’t want to integrate. There are groups that in Europe: Salafis, Tabliqi, they’re not violent but they don’t have the will to integrate. Is there any answer to deal with these groups?
Thank you very much. On this point Gilles wants to answer and then I’ll give the floor to Tariq Ramadan.
I just also wanted to congratulate Tariq Ramadan because on his web site he posted a statement saying he would never have a debate with me any more and now we’re having a debate, so you see.
To answer what you just said about Salafism and Tabliqi, definitely here we have movements that are not violent in nature, quite the contrary, but which in my way are extremely worrying for European societies because the kind of understanding of the religion that they preach tends to bring their followers into cutting all ties with the global society. I mean, they are definitely disintegrating, if you wish, their own people from European societies. We’re not dealing with, and I’m trying to agree with Tariq Ramadan now, we’re not dealing with immigrants in many cases, we’re dealing with people who are European citizens, who have been born here. What Tabliqi and Salafists are doing is taking them out of the set of values that makes European citizens out of them and this is why a number of measures have been taken by, for instance, authorities in France. When Salafis preach ideals which contradict human rights, for instance when we had one Salafi imam in Lyon saying that the stoning of women or the lapidation of women was legal so he was expelled and he asked for a moratorium.
Tariq Ramadan, before I close.
Very quickly I want to comment on two points. The first one is the last point you made. Look, I hope I am as clear and explicit here as I am in the books I am writing by saying two things.
Terrorism is to be condemned without any kind of conditions. I said that straight after September 11th and here in Madrid as well. Everywhere I said exactly the same.
Terrorists should be condemned. At one point for example, what happened in the States, I said, without any condition, nothing, nothing could explain what happened. Now, what I’m saying is that in some situations, to explain doesn’t mean that you justify. So if, for example, you say yes during 30 years the Palestinians never used suicide bombings and in ’94 they started, it means that at that point, something happened. Yes, something happened: the massacre of Hebron. Just one year after that and three years after starting the process without hope, to see anything changing, they started to do that. So you have to explain it. Does it mean that you justify it? No. It is explicit that it’s condemned, not justifiable, but at one point, historically speaking, you can explain what is happening, because something is happening now.
When I am speaking about state terrorism I want to as I’m doing. When you want to kill someone, you consider as a target. And you know by killing, by the way they are killing that man, that you are going to kill 10 or 30 innocent people, this is also something I call terrorism. So this is my point. We can discuss it, but don’t say that it’s not explicit.
I’m condemning all kinds of terrorism. I’m saying that it’s not justifiable. In some situation to explain, it’s necessary to go beyond, not to say it’s justifiable, but to go beyond, to try to find solutions.
If we are here speaking about democracy and terrorists, we want to understand because if it was not understandable and not explainable, why are we here? Just say to condemn, kill the people, kill terrorists and that’s it. No, we are trying and why are we asking, is integration failing? Because we think that maybe this is the cost. So it is explainable without being justifiable. This is as explicit as I’m writing it. I hope you understand that because if you are saying that the only starting point to discuss is to say that it’s not explainable, you cannot just explain, it’s the only way to condemn, it’s not to explain, I really think that we’re not going to find a solution.
Very quickly, the second point, and this was always my point on that, about the distinction between religion and politics, look at what is going on now in the European societies and not only within the European society, by the challenges we face now, that the great majority of the European, the American, the Canadian, Australian, Muslim citizens, no one understands and promotes the fact that we have to make a difference. They’re asking the states, don’t interfere in our religious affairs and let us be in the public sphere as citizens. The problem is that very often you come as a citizen and you are perceived as a Muslim. We have to promote this understanding, that there is a distinction between the public sphere and the private sphere. This is possible, according to the Islamic teachings, read the books and you can find that for the last 15 years I’ve been saying that it’s not against the Islamic teaching, it’s something that we’re promoting and trying to do, from within the Muslim teachings but we also have to be understood, let us promote secularism, laïcité, accordingly and on equal footing with the Muslim citizens.
The last point is what is going on and this is why I really think that this panel is really important. What is going on here in Europe, in the West, will have a tremendous impact on the Islamic world. It’s very important for us to understand that. It’s our shared responsibility. We’ll send a message to the Islamic countries that we need democratization, that we need reforms, as it was said, but we also need to understand that the fractures lie not at the borders, not in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan. They could be here if we get the challenge and we succeed here by having European citizens, American citizens, understanding in which way as Muslims they can be involved in politics and in social policy, this will send a message to the Islamic world that this is some of the solutions we need.
Merci, merci, merci. I have still an answer because you have stimulated two more interventions. I’m really going to ask you to be very brief because I have to sum up and we’re already 10 minutes over time. Madame, et ensuite Monsieur Leiken.
Assia Bensalah Alaoui
Very brief, just to address a couple of questions, first our Spanish friends. I just think that it doesn’t help to label Islamist terrorism because each situation needs to be identified and you need to look into the deep reasons because sometimes it’s local, specific and linked with the overall global terrorism. We do know this in Morocco because we did not mention that but we have been as well victims of this. I cannot agree more when you establish the link between democracy development and the sustainable base for security. You have to provide to all the populations, valid states into their own societies. This is the lesson we have drawn.
The other remark has to do with yourself in Europe. You have to question the model you are providing us with. The democracy you are providing is not free from criticism because if there is not discrimination de jure there is de facto discrimination which excludes a lot of youngsters and probably they need - I’m not questioning the welfare state and you’re making a lot of assets - but they need probably some more attention and a different type of companion in order to be integrated in a better way.
Bon, merci. Monsieur Leiken.
Just a quick counterintuitive comment. There have been some very well integrated terrorists: the Pakistanis who were arrested in England; the Tel Aviv bombers who went from Britain; Mohammed Bouyeri who killed Van Gogh. All of these were very well-integrated people. Perhaps we need a concept of adversarial integration. But while I think integration is, by and large, a panacea as Jan suggested, it’s a remedy but maybe not a panacea.
Thank you. I’m going to close in just a second. A couple of points I want to make. First of all thank you for everybody, for all the speakers; we had a tremendously important session.
Second I want to say to my Spanish hosts, talking about immigration policy, that when a European government decides to regularise one million illegal aliens on Spanish soil, it has a repercussion on all the others. Believe me, tomorrow I’m selling the referendum in some French city, the question will be asked, because the moment they are regularised they travel.
Anti-Semitism, the question was put to me. It’s like the issue on is there an Islamic terror. Yes, there is, of course. And there is unfortunately a rise of anti-Semitism. Among these youngsters who are looking for identity and they tend to replay the intifadah in French suburbs or in French schools. Including in my own district in Paris where I was raised, I now have a situation where young French kids of Jewish faith are beaten up by young French kids of Muslim faith. And that’s covered up generally because people want to keep quiet but there’s a major failure there of values of our democratic system. If we start to introduce such differences when the kids are 8 or 9 years old, we have a problem.
Lastly, and that leads me to laïcité and what is a good model, I’m not going to give lectures here. The good model, of course, is what Mr. Ramadan said, the dialogue among the Muslims themselves to reconcile themselves with democratic values. I believe, and it’s part of my fight, I believe that Islam is compatible with democracy. That’s why I’m in favor of Turkey entering the E.U. if they qualify, but this takes a lot of effort on the part of Muslim intellectuals to really separate between the religion and the political exploitation of the religion. As to us, we have to be extremely thorough in defending our values in each of our countries, whatever the model we choose, whether it’s French laïcité or a more multicultural system in England or Holland or elsewhere.
In any case, I told you we were not going to solve all this in an hour and a half. We have not; but I think we made some interesting intellectual progress. Thank you very much.