In examining the recent riots across France, it is tempting to level blame on the supposedly irreconcilable differences between the secular West and Islam. The rioters, after all, were largely the children of Muslim migrants from North and West Africa; and the target of their rage was, after all, an archetypal secular polity. If much of the commentary is to be believed, these riots represent the opening battle in some sort of European intifada or an al-Qaeda inspired push to re-establish the Caliphate in the Parisian suburbs.
However, it is a simplistic reading of the situation that impugns Islam for the riots. Rather, the violence had little to do with some Muslim hostility towards democracy, but everything to do with economic problems that are largely unique to the socialist economies of 'old Europe'.
Unlike Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, France does not recognize multiculturalism. Migrants must assimilate and the state has undertaken a series of aggressive measures - such as banning Islamic hijab in public schools - to push the process along.
Integration is, however, more than merely forcing migrants to adopt some vacuous notion of 'Frenchness'. It is not enough that new entrants merely embrace some cultural affectations and give their children French names. Perhaps more importantly, migrants must be integrated economically. It is only by working, earning money and being financially independent that a person develops the self-respect and dignity needed to be a productive member of the social and cultural fabric of the society. This is where France has failed: whilst it has demanded its migrants assimilate culturally, the economy has offered little opportunity for economic assimilation.
The French economy is growing at just 1.2% and has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in Europe. For those under 25, the unemployment rate is 22% (approximately twice the rate of the United States and Britain). In the banlieues, the poor suburbs where the riots erupted, youth unemployment is estimated to run at over 50%.
These alarmingly high levels of youth unemployment are caused by a rigid French labor market. France has one of the highest minimum wages in Europe and its workers enjoy the protection of strong unions and a variety of regulations that force short 35-hour work weeks, generous state pensions, and long holidays. It is very difficult for companies to rationalize staff numbers or hire temporarily. Meanwhile, with government spending accounting for roughly half the GDP and an escalating pension and social security burden, individuals and businesses endure stiflingly heavy taxation.
As a result, the French economy produces a miniscule number of new jobs each year as compared to the United Kingdom or United States. The high minimum wage exacerbates the problem by making it expensive to hire new staff. The result is obvious: businesses will discriminate in favor of job applicants with closer cultural ties to the dominant culture, more experience or already employed.
Therefore, migrants and the children of migrants are pushed to the margins. They are told that they are French by a system that refuses to recognize the multicultural face of French society, yet when they attempt to find employment soon realize that they are not competing on an equal footing. With laws preventing the collection of any statistical data based on ethnicity or religion, the French government remains blissfully unaware of these problems. This, in turn, builds resentment and a feeling of alienation amongst the young who find themselves excluded with no hope of economic or social ascent.
Instead of addressing the true cause of unemployment, the French government has plied these poor neighborhoods with public funds: government housing, hospitals, and generous social security payments. An emasculating dependence on handouts, aggressive demands of cultural assimilation, and yet little reciprocal hope of economic integration has created the cultural milieu that begot these riots.
In competitive, relatively liberalized labor markets, the ongoing demand for labor ensures employers cannot readily afford to discriminate on the irrelevant basis of race or religion. It is for this reason that ethnic groups in more liberal economies do not face the same social problems as those in countries such as France and its neighbors. It is also for this reason that it is unlikely that similar riots would ever occur in Australia or the United States. Regardless of what some opportunists now warn.
Amir Butler is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia.
1. Being a nudist (adj.)
2. Being a fornicator (v.)
3. Being an alcoholic (n.)
4. Being a voyeur (n.)
5. Being an INFIDEL
6. Leading an animalistic life-style in the name of high spirit, modenrity, and self-expression.
7. Being a Bar Boy and a cowboy and losing all your intelligence @ the age of 21 and then becoming a president under Daddy's Spotlight
very good point Jeremiah, but the world bow down to the power. free societies is just ballon of dreams to make people busy with words not with facts.
If you are referring to the military operations in Iraq, I don't think they will be immigrating!
Please read what I say properly. Secondly the more people on this site insult me more they hurt their efforts to discredit me.
My references to Islam calling non-Muslim land, Land of Warfare comes from Muslim sites i've visited. If this information is incorrect please guide to the correct site.
What does 'DARU 'L-HARB' mean if it doesn't mean Land of Warfare.
I am not so sure however that the author has a firm grip of what the situation is in the USA. While I would not be considered a socialist or communist, I think that it is important to note that (at least in the case of the US) many immigrant jobs exploit cheap labor - with many immigrant poor (primarily mexican or central american) sharing common housing or living homeless with little to no medical attention, workers rights, or guarantee that they will even get paid for their manual labor - luring an influx of workers with the proposition of sending money back to starving families until they are either deported or die of lack of decent living conditions. (As someone who interacts with this community with on a daily basis let me assure you that this is not an exagerration)
Simultaneously - there is a large percentage of working homeless in the country. Almost 40% of full time employees have no health care (without which you more or less die) and the average american adult is $10,000.00 us dollars in debt (with new bankruptcy laws allowing no way out) These conditions are exasperated further by an expanding sense of american consumer culture, materialism, and lax coorporate policy coupled with government allowal of privatization price gouging for electricity, water, medical, and pharmaceutical.
When coupled with ever increasing environmental issues, lack of efficiency in recourse allocation, and ever expanding international policy to maintain a status quo - I fail to see how American (I know nothing of Australia) Brand Capitalism is a panacea for all of our problems - Perhaps it is not the form of government, but how the government is held accountable for the best interests of it's citizens.
Doin, .... you need see a doctor for your Islamophobie... you are getting just worst...
The reason immigrants dont integrate, muslim or otherwise is because they are treated like 2nd and 3rd class citizens, ask any hispanic person in the US.If you want to treat people like cattle, dont expect them to put up with your BS.
We would still have people riding in the back of the bus if your version of "integration" is an indication. Its all too common for the criminal European mindset to demand that others become a part of their own enslavement and dehumanization.
Those days are past, and your days as the nazis of the 21st century are numbered.
There are jobs even in these "socialist" economies. Problem in France is, as it may be somewhere else too, that these jobs are not so easily given to people who have "wrong" names etc. It has nothing to do with French legistration or socialism. People in France should seriously reconsider their attitudes, revolutionise their inner realms, cause these people are there to stay. It's sad and dangerous not to take their potentialities into use.
Author obviously is some sort of neoconservative,at least a symphatizer, who wants to use these riots as a mean to spread the "happy message of (totally?) free market economy".
Yes, unemployment percentage is lower in US than generally speaking in Europe. But at what cost? For example there are lots of people in US doing two or three jobs daily, working their assess off and still not getting income enough to support themselves, not to speak about their families. That, I think, is form of humiliating modern day slavery. But sure, those people living in their garrisoned disdricts don't have to bother. Their huge incomes have been increasing steadily, so no problem, eh? "The French economy is growing at just 1.2% " Down with this myth of ever and ever increasing economies. They can't. Quite contrary, there will be time when the level of consuming comes down, quite a lot I quess. This will happen good way, of bad way, but it will happen. Totally free market economy is a beast that destroys everything around, and after that begins to eat itself up. No way I can see it as a christian way to run affairs, and as far I've understood not a muslim way too.