Despite anxiety from the public and politicians, Muslim ethnic minority communities have been integrating into British and German cities for some time, according to research by Dr Sarah Hackett.
She compared the level of integration of the South Asian community in Newcastle-upon-Tyne with that of the Turkish community in Bremen from the 1960s onwards, looking specifically at employment, housing and education.
She found that employment and housing patterns have often led to cohesion, integration and multiculturalism within both cities’ neighbourhoods. According to the study’s findings, Muslim migrants in both cities have long been able to achieve their employment and housing ambitions – often in the form of running businesses, owning their own homes and forming neighbourhoods. Their success has often been the result of interaction and in-depth understanding of their local surroundings and the indigenous population.
“The debate on the integration of Muslims in Europe is marred by claims of incompatibility and conflict,” comments Dr Hackett. “Yet this research strongly suggests that Islam should not be seen as a barrier to integration, and that European anxiety regarding Muslim communities is greatly exaggerated. It shows that not only is integration possible, but that in Newcastle and Bremen it has been underway for some time.”