Is Islam in Western Europe Like Race in the United States?1

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Abstract

Asking whether Islam in Western Europe is like race in the United States is, to a large degree, to ask whether Muslims in Europe share the same fate and face the same barriers as blacks in the United States. The article considers (1) the nature of the hostility to Islam in Western Europe and why it is a greater barrier to inclusion for immigrants and their children than in the United States; (2) the dynamics of color-coded race in the United States, comparing, on the one hand, the severe barriers confronting individuals and groups with African ancestry in the United States with the barriers facing Muslims (as well as black immigrants) in Western Europe and, on the other hand, considering certain advantages available to immigrants of color in the United States that Muslim and other immigrants lack in Europe; and (3) whether the boundary based on religion will prove more permeable for the descendants of Muslim immigrants in Western Europe than the racial boundary in the United States for those with visible African ancestry.

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