Investing in Immigrant Europe

The attacks in Paris last month unleashed a welter of opinion about how to prevent further violence – whether by jihadist terrorists or against Muslim communities. But the focus of that debate risks eclipsing the much wider question of whether Europe has sown the seeds of disaffection through neglect of its immigrants.

BRUSSELS – In the wake of the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris, world leaders linked arms but not ideas. The attacks unleashed a welter of opinion about how to prevent further violence – whether by jihadist terrorists or against Muslim communities. But the focus of that debate risks eclipsing the much wider question of whether Europe has sown the seeds of disaffection through neglect of its immigrants.

Exactly 20 years ago, French moviegoers were shocked by a gritty, low-budget black-and-white film called “La Haine” (Hatred) that conveyed the poverty and sense of hopelessness in a run-down immigrant district of Paris. In the film, disaffected youngsters clash with police and go on a killing spree. The only thing that has changed since then is the growth of Islamic fundamentalism and the religious radicalization of some young people.

Only French Prime Minister Manuel Valls – the son of Spanish immigrants – has highlighted the issue, referring to the “social and ethnic apartheid” that has developed in his country. The need to address this outcome in France and across Europe has become more important than ever, as rioting and criminality by young and underprivileged immigrants are matched by the rise of far-right political parties.

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