Is Europe Truly Multicultural?

Written by Emma Bronsema

Europe and discourse surrounding Europe like to portray it as being inclusive and multicultural, but when it comes down to it, and you change the discussion, it is a truly ideological polarizing continent. There is more division than unification found within. 

When examining the discourse surrounding the Muslim communities in Europe, it becomes clear that they are often othered, understood in static terms, and categorized to be traditional, intolerant, and a rigid community. More often than not, their voices are drowned out by European concerns about the supposed threat to the culture that they have become too comfortable in. By systematically concentrating racialized minorities into certain areas, there becomes a visible supposid threat to European culture.  

It is ironic how Europeans will look at the Muslim culture as rigid and traditional, and like to claim that their culture is fluid and inclusive, when they are ones who are rigid and unwilling to accept, adapt and recognize other cultures. Similarly, xenophobia comes into clear view when looking at the reluctance the Europeans had when it came to admitting refugees into their countries. This is also shown when looking at the policy created by the EU, which contains the desire for minimal support efforts and to minimize and prevent migrants. In practice, anti-immigration sentiments were clearly shown by their response to the 2015 refugee crisis – during which they were extremely reluctant to accept Syrian refugees.

I would like to know how Nations who claim to be multicultural are so afraid of including and accepting outside cultures. Especially since Islamic Europeans are not a new phenomenon and have resided in Europe for centuries. My best answer would be that it is through selective memory, that Europe is able to portray a specific culture and narrative that allows them to completely disregard their long history of emigration and immigration.


Fatima El-Tayeb, “”Gays Who Cannot Properly be Gay.’ Queer Muslims in the Neoliberal European City” European Journal of Women’s Studies 19/1, (2012): 79-95. 

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.

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

One Reply to “Is Europe Truly Multicultural?”

  1. Hi Emma,

    I liked your response for this week. I agree with you that there seems to be some hypocrisy in how Europe views its own ideals versus how they view those of the Muslim community. Europe paints itself as progressive and inclusive but when you look closer, you see that the experiences of racialized and minority communities have been filled with discrimination and exclusion. They are threatened by anything that they feel takes away from the “European” identity. I particularly like your point on Europe’s selective memory and how they pick and choose how to portray their culture narrative.

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