Should Muslims Integrate into the West?

"...Nevertheless, because Islamist jurists in the Arab world have considerable resources, they at times drown out or wear down more pro-assimilation voices. The collision between Western interpretations of personal freedom and some Islamist interpretations of Muslims' rights and duties is inevitable. For mainstream Muslim jurists, Islam trumps all aspects of human activities.

Herein lays the challenge. Many ethnic and religious minorities seek to establish an autonomous sphere within multicultural societies, but only Arab Muslim jurists consider such an autonomous sphere to constitute a substitute for the liberal state itself. Many ethnic and religious minorities attempt to speak for their countries of origin through the political systems of their adopted countries, but only Arab Muslim jurists regard their Muslim nation as overstretching the boundaries of all nation-states in its political

How then should liberal nation-states, using the principals of liberalism and multiculturalism as their shield, deal with individuals who resist their very existence? How can Western societies distinguish between those Muslims who seek a place for their beliefs and traditions within a pluralistic framework and those who adhere to a school committed to the destruction of that framework? Perhaps a good point of departure would be to understand that it is not veils that matter, but the individuals and ideas that are behind them."

Author, Uriya Shavit, is currently a scholar of the Minerva Foundation, a subsidiary of the Max Planck Society, and author of the forthcoming Wars of Democracy: The West and the Arabs from the fall of Communism to the War in Iraq (Dayan Center, Tel Aviv). Published in the Middle East Forum's fall 2007 issue of "The Middle East Quarterly."

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