One thing I noticed about both of these readings was that the theme of “integration” was very important, specifically, the debate over whether immigrants should integrate into European cultures and civilization as well as country-specific cultures (such as France or Britain) or if it will always be a society of coexistence, an us and them kind of world. Perhaps it was unintentional, but I think this word of integration versus coexistence choice points towards assimilation being the only acceptable choice in Europe more than it points towards outsiders becoming a part of an internal society over time. These ideas are rooted in the history of Europe and the concept of European civilization as a narrative that is based on specific events that immigrants were not a part of, and in the case of these excerpts, that Islam specifically was not a part of. Reading these articles raised many questions for me about immigrants in Europe. Will they ever belong? Will they ever be able to call Europe home as they exist within its borders and life goes on and more events shape the country they are in? Does this debate claim that Europe will never be able to change, will never have other key influences in how European civilization is run?
Ellee Banaszak, Hope College, Class of 2017