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» Student Handout: "Recent Laws are Wrong Way to Integrate European Muslims"

By Alaa Bayoumi
Al-Jazeerah, March 11, 2004

Alaa Bayoumi is a researcher at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR is the United States' largest Muslim civil-liberties advocacy group. The Al Jazeerah Web site offers news with an Islamic perspective on unfolding events in the Middle East and throughout the world. [URL: http://www.aljazeerah.info/Opinion%20editorials/2004%20opinions/March/11%20o

Directions: Find the article online and answer the Reading Questions below. Meet in your group to review the Reading Questions to make sure everyone in the group understands the article. Then in your group, answer the Discussion Questions as a guide for preparing your presentation to the class.

Reading Questions:

  1. What actions are several European countries taking to assimilate Muslims into European society?

  2. The author cites several detailed examples of Danish, Dutch and French government actions to address assimilation. Summarize these and state the author's political and historical arguments against such actions.

  3. Describe the author's view on how Muslims play an integral part in Europe.

  4. Describe the three "real problems" the author believes European governments should be addressing in the Muslim community.

  5. How does the author feel the new integration laws will "scapegoat" Muslims for the real problems facing European society?

Discussion Questions:

  1. The author identifies several actions proposed or implemented by European governments to address Muslim integration. Identify the possible civil rights violations these actions might cause. Information on the rights enumerated in the European Constitution can be found at [URL: http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/lex/JOHtml.do?uri=OJ:C:2004:310:SOM:EN:HTML Click on "Part II: The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the Union".]

  2. Discuss the French law that bans the wearing of religious symbols. If the ban is on the wearing of all religious symbols, how is this discriminatory? Why would Muslims feel it is only directed at them?

  3. In the author's opinion, how does ethnic integration and economic problems give support to those who fear Muslim extremism?

  4. Explain how the author sees the proposed anti-Muslim laws as creating more integration problems, not less.

In your group, develop a presentation that provides an overview of the content of the article from the reading questions and the conclusions your group developed from the discussion questions.

In the class "summit meeting" have different members of your group present the different parts of the presentation:

  1. A summary of the reading — provide the title of the article, name of the author(s), name and perspective of the publisher and date. Summarize the content of the article by reviewing the Reading Questions.

  2. Point out important aspects of the article that you discovered in the Discussion Questions.

  3. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the proposals or recommendations made in the article.

  4. Present your proposals, as close as possible to the point of view of the author, on what you think should be done to address the problems presented in the article.

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