Saturday, October 21, 2006

Muslim Integration

In the UK, the University of Lancaster decided to actually study attitudes of different communities in the UK with an eye toward the problems of Muslim integration. Here's what they came up with:
"The Lancaster University study, commissioned by the Home Office, examined the attitudes of 435 15-year-olds on race, religion and integration. It also gives an insight into the attitudes they are getting from their parents and other influences such as religion. It found that nearly a third of pupils at a predominantly white school believed one race was superior to another, compared with a tenth from a majority Asian Muslim school and fewer than a fifth at a mixed school.

"The students surveyed were at a predominantly white school in Burnley, a predominantly Asian Muslim school in Blackburn, and a mixed school in Blackburn. The study concludes: 'It might be reasonable ... to suggest that it is the Asian-Muslim students in both the mixed and monocultural schools of Burnley and Blackburn who are in fact the most tolerant of all.' At the all-white school half felt it unimportant to respect people regardless of gender or religion, and a quarter felt there was no need to show tolerance to those with different views. Burnley was hit by riots in 2001 and the far-right British National party is strong in the town. Blackburn is the constituency of Mr Straw, who has said the wearing by Muslim women of a face veil damages community relations.

"The study found that about one in 10 of white students had any interest in learning about other religions, compared with four in 10 Muslims. Andrew Holden, of the University of Lancaster, said: 'White children seem to benefit more from mixed schooling in encouraging positive attitudes to other ethnic groups.'"

I don't find this that surprising, actually. Exposure is usually a key to breaking down cultural barriers, and minority communities are generally immersed in the dominant culture despite a few islands dedicated to their own way of life. The question this study raises, of course, is whether European Christians can adapt to a multicultural world.

(Crossposted to American Footprints.)


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