Europe's Muslims find ally in U.S.
By Nicholas Kralev
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
February 13, 2007
The State Department, concerned about a "nativist surge" in Western Europe, has created a position to coordinate efforts to reach out to European Muslims and help them better integrate into society, a senior official said yesterday.
Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said U.S. embassies and consulates in Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and other countries will decide what exactly they can do, instead of "Washington bureaucrats dreaming this up."
The growing Muslim presence in Europe is "a fascinating issue and one that the American government is just now trying to get its mind around," Mr. Fried told editors and reporters at The Washington Times. "It's a huge problem, we are thinking about it seriously, and we've tried to do some intellectual framing-up."
Farah Pandith, until recently a staffer on the National Security Council (NSC), moved to the State Department last week to head the new effort.
Unrest among Muslims in Europe, particularly those who have turned to extremist acts such as the 2005 London transit system bombings, has spurred a heated debate across the continent.
The French government, for example, now regrets having resettled North African immigrants in de facto ghettos, where unemployment and bad schooling led to desperation among young people, Paris' ambassador to Washington, Jean-David Levitte, told The Times last month.
"The unrest that existed in poor neighborhoods had nothing to do with jihad and much to do with social conditions," he said. "That's why we have to put the emphasis on improving the social conditions -- schools, jobs, better housing -- and hopefully all this will trigger better absorption in the social fabric of France of this minority."
Mr. Fried said that a "process of alienation" is occurring within Europe's Muslim communities, and that their host countries have "no sense of integration."