Two middle-aged women wearing hijabs chat to each other in Arabic as they walk down the street. Ahead of them is a Muslim bookstore, displaying DVDs by imams and books with titles like Scientific Miracles in the Koran. On one corner there's a halal butcher shop; around another, a music store that sells only Arab music. Someone has plastered posters advertising a concert by the Moroccan musician Daoudi. But this isn't Morocco. This is France. And we're not in the suburbs, where many of France's marginalized North African communities live. The Goutte d'Or quarter is right in the 18th arrondissement of the capital. "This neighborhood, you wouldn't even know you are in Paris," says Naresh Patel, a 44-year-old Hindu Indian who runs a stall under the elevated metro tracks. "Here people preserve their North African Muslim heritage at the expense of being French. France has done such a poor job of integrating its immigrants."
To Patel, the fact that France's North African citizens don't feel at home is simply a shame. To others, it's much more dangerous than that. Three years ago, Princeton University Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis said that, thanks to immigration and Europe's low birthrate, Western Europe will have Muslim majorities by the end of the century: "Europe will be part of the Arab West, the Maghreb." He's not alone. The fear of a Eurabia (capital: Londonistan) populated by poor, angry, fervent Muslims is gaining ground. Islamists are "determined to subdue and colonize Europe," claims American essayist Bruce Bawer, in his book While Europe Slept. "Now, nearly the whole of Western Europe is practically within their grasp." Europeans, for their part, worry that its Muslim population can only become more segregated and disaffected; that the London bombings, the France riots and the Danish cartoon protests are just a taste of what's to come. A new report by the British think tank Policy Exchange found that 13% of British Muslims aged 16 to 24 agreed when asked if they admired "organizations like al-Qaeda that are prepared to fight the West."
It's time for a reality check. Muslims make up about 3% of the E.U. population today, and that figure will reach no more than 10% by 2025. But the fear that radical Islam will sweep through the old Continent is symptomatic of something bigger: Europe's identity crisis. Thanks, in part, to immigration, the relatively high Muslim birthrate and the rising number of mixed-race marriages, Europe is getting more diverse by the day. Once homogeneous communities are now a jumble of cultures. Inevitably, some of them clash. And, as Europe struggles to figure out what it means to be European, many of its citizens are left feeling alienated and frustrated.
Forget Eurabia. The real issue facing Europe is multiculturalism using that word not as a policy option, but as a fact. The world contains over 5,000 ethnocultural groups, and technology, cheap airfares and the global economy have scattered them around the planet, in countless combinations. Since the immigrant waves in the '50s and '60s, European nations have been looking for different ways to blend different people of different cultures into successful, peaceful societies. All had the same goal: a society that gives equal opportunity and equal respect, regardless of race, creed, color or faith. Forty years on, that society still doesn't exist. But multiculturalism is with us to stay. So the question is how to make it work for Europe. This isn't about at least, not just about stamping out Islamic extremism. This is about the day-to-day interactions of a diverse Europe at work, in school, on the streets. Here are five ways in which Europe can turn its multicultural reality into something that enriches the Continent rather than tears it apart.