By Jonathan Laurence
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Just over 1 percent of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims reside in Western Europe, yet this minority has had a disproportionate impact on religion and politics in its new home.
In just 50 years, the Muslim population has ballooned from some tens of thousands to 16 or 17 million in 2010 — approximately one out of every 25 Western Europeans.
On the one hand, there is a growing belief among native European populations that Islam, once allowed to flourish unchecked in post-war Europe, must be halted. This worldview exhorts Europeans to awaken from their slumber and defeat “Eurabia.” Against this narrative is the view, held by some Muslim community leaders, that European governments are uniformly repressive and intolerant of diversity. Both narratives are inadequate and, more importantly, each misses the broader trend of what is actually happening on the ground.