Eurabian Tales

From the Economist:

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THIS week George Bush was in Vienna, doing his best to mend relations with his allies. The list of disputes between the United States and Europe remains long and familiar: Guantánamo, Iraq, Iran, the common agricultural policy. Less easy for Mr Bush to talk about, let alone fix, is the equally long list of different attitudes from which so many transatlantic tensions seem to spring—opposing prejudices on everything from capitalism and religiosity to Mr Bush’s “war on terror”.

These underlying emotions—what a British historian, Sir Lewis Namier, once called “the music to which [political] ideas are a mere libretto”—occasionally converge around a particular issue, such as Guantánamo Bay or Hurricane Katrina. This can be unhelpful: Katrina made America look like a failed state, Guantánamo is not a typical example of American justice. Now a similar caricature—this time about Europe—is forming in America (see article). It is known as “Eurabia”, and it represents an ever-growing Muslim Europe-within-Europe—poor, unassimilated and hostile to the United States.

Two years ago, the White House’s favourite Arabist scholar, Bernard Lewis, gave a warning that Europe would turn Muslim by the end of this century, becoming “part of the Arab West, the Maghreb”. Now there is a plethora of books with titles like “While Europe Slept” and “Menace in Europe” (see article). Stagnant Europe, goes the standard argument, cannot offer immigrants jobs; appeasing Europe will not clamp down on Islamofascist extremism; secular Europe cannot deal with religiosity (in some cities, more people go to mosques each week than to churches). Europe needs to study America’s melting pot, where Muslims fare better.

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