Immigration and Europe : A Difficult Co-Existence

Mass immigration presents a problem to Europe : how can so many people from various ethnicities and religions coexist in a Europe which foundation relies on modern democracy and secularism ? Islam becomes  the centre of the debate as it is its violent perception that divides many countries in Western and Eastern Europe. Using the example of Turkey as a modern country where secularism is used as a model for other Muslim countries, Nilüfer Göle argues that decentering Europe entails reaching outside of its actual borders but also acknowledging a religion that carries a long legacy in history. She mentioned the term chronotope to highlight the notion of time and space and ties it to the place that Islam occupies as a disrupting agent in secular modernity.

The same argument of time and space is used in a different perspective with Dan Stone as he correlates the situation of refugee crisis and the position of Eastern European countries to the Holocaust. He uses the term collective memory to comment on two scholars (Jan T. Gross and G. M. Tamás) who demonstrated that “the failure to come to term with the past” was a reason why Eastern Europe was not ready to deal with the refugee crisis.  But his argument reflects the error to only limit the sphere to Eastern Europe and rather to include Western Europe as well. Building arguments on mythologies and collective memories is at risk of ignoring or segregating other events in different categories and to perpetuate an exclusion rather than  an integration.

The Göle article does not mention the refugee crisis which aggravates the already sensitive immigration situation in many European countries but rather focuses on the religious and gender elements that suffer from incomprehension or rejection in neo-liberal urban settings. This limitation in searching for a consensual answer to the problem of immigration is also present and denounced in Stone article. By focusing on a specific past ( the migration of Jews during the Third Reich) , we set ourselves to miss the transnational repercussion of the recent migrations and to lean toward indifference or to feed nationalist movements with stronger arguments against immigration.

The main questions seem to be : how to face massive immigration as a whole continent and leave aside ultra-nationalist sentiment to focus on multicultural and transnational Europe ? How to depart from the past to better integrate the future ?

Works cited :

Nilüfer Göle, “Decentering Europe, Recentering Islam” New Literary History, Volume 43, Number 4 (Autumn 2012): 665-685.

Dan Stone, “On Neighbours and Those Knocking at the Door: Holocaust Memory and Europe’s Refugee Crisis.” Patterns of Prejudice 52, no. 2/3 (May 2018): 231–43.

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