four weeks' time, amid the pageantry of ceremonial Washington, the 45th
president of the United States will be sworn into office. A man who won
that office on, among many other horrors, a promise to 'ban' (albeit
temporarily) Muslims from entering the US.
He may be rolling back on that offensive policy now the Oval Office
looms in vision, but the point is telling. Fear of Islam remains real
and potent across the west, even a decade and a half on from 9/11.
In Europe the 'refugee crisis' and a series of terror attacks over the
past two years have flared tensions. Last night's appalling incident in
Berlin has already sparked a torrent of racist remarks on social media,
following early reports that the driver may have been from Pakistan. It
seems almost inevitable that public discourse will soon return to the
sensitive topic of whether Islam is compatible with ‘western’ values.
In recent weeks Chancellor Merkel has joined the chorus of politicians
floating support for a burqa ban, showing it is not just 'populists'
focusing on the issue.
This week Policy Network's contributors seek to go beyond simplistic rhetoric and policies, concluding
it's time to rethink the way we use terms such as ethnicity, identity,
culture and race. Our contributors probe the integration debate –
focusing on cases in Britain, France and Germany
– to consider the effectiveness of different responses to public
concern. These range from policymaking to acts of symbolism and how
politicians choose to react to fear.
These pieces are part of our ongoing project on immigration and
integration supported by the Barrow Cadbury Fund and follow
a successful recent seminar in London: 'Inclusive integration: how can progressives promote social cohesion in divisive times?', the audio of which is now available.