Kenan Malik in Pandaemonium:
‘Can Europe be the same with different people in it?’ So asked the American writer Christopher Caldwell in his book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, published a few years ago. It is a question that has been asked with increasing urgency in recent years as the question of immigration, and in particular of Islamic immigration, has taken centre stage.
At the heart of this question lies the dilemma of how Western societies should respond to the influx of peoples with different traditions, backgrounds and beliefs. What should be the boundaries of tolerance in such societies? Should immigrants be made to assimilate to Western customs and norms or is integration a two-way street? Such questions have bedeviled politicians and policy-makers for the past half-century. They have also tied liberals in knots.
The conundrums about diversity have been exacerbated by the two issues that now dominate contemporary European political discourse – the migration crisis and the problem of terrorism. How we discuss these issues, and how we relate the one to the other, will shape the character of European societies over the net period.