The Atlantic

Competing Visions of Islam Will Shape Europe in the 21st Century

Akbar Ahmed’s new book deals with how migration is reshaping the continent, and whether leaders can cope.
Source: Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

Akbar Ahmed was born a subject of the British Raj. He devoted his career to building a modern Pakistani state, accepting some of his government’s most dangerous jobs, including political commissioner in the tribal agency of Waziristan. He rose to represent Pakistan as its high commissioner in the United Kingdom. Since retiring from government, he has taught at American University in Washington, D.C., where he has written books and produced documentaries about Islam’s place in the modern world. His newest book, Journey into Europe, is the culmination of years of study of the Muslim migration northward, which has accelerated dramatically since the Syrian Civil War. Ahmed and I have debated the impact of this migration for years. We continued the conversation recently over a long written exchange.


David Frum: You are promoting a new book, about Islam in Europe. As so often in your intellectual career, you perceive potential harmony where others see mostly conflict. Terrorism in the name of Islam has claimed many lives in Europe over the past two decades—and the reaction to mass migration from the Islamic world is shaking the politics of the continent.

Meanwhile much of the Muslim world seems to be turning away from the liberal values that have defined Europe since 1945. You see this especially in Turkey, once a candidate for

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic6 min read
Why Some People Become Lifelong Readers
They can be identified by their independent-bookstore tote bags, their “Book Lover” mugs, or—most reliably—by the bound, printed stacks of paper they flip through on their lap. They are, for lack of a more specific term, readers. Joining their tribe
The Atlantic8 min read
The End of Netanyahu’s Unchecked Reign
The results yielded no clear path to a governing coalition, but represented a rejection of two dangerous ideas.
The Atlantic7 min readPolitics
The Democratic Debates Aren’t Pleasing Anyone
The candidates hate them. The campaigns hate them. The press hates them. For once in American politics, there’s a consensus.