You are on page 1of 1


Erik Jones, professor of European Studies at the SAIS Bologna Center, visited the Washington
campus to discuss the issues facing Europe as it faces continuing tensions over the future
admission of Turkey and tensions with Muslim immigrant communities throughout the
continent. He cited many of his experiences on a recent trip to Turkey with his students,
where they had met with a number of political, religious, and civil society figures. He
asserted that the debate on Islam in Europe was too focused on identity, and should instead
focus on solidarity.

The conventional wisdom in Europe was that Islam and immigration posed some sort of
existential threat to Europe, but Jones found it unconvincing. Europe had a long history of
forging ways for groups with fundamentally different identities to coexist in the same
geographic space. He pointed to examples of communitarian power-sharing in Belgium and
the Netherlands, and the Kemalist system in Turkey, which allowed different religious groups
to function as long as they didn't proselytize. These formulas, however--elite
accommodation in the Belgian case and strict assimilation in the Turkish one, wouldn't work
for forging solidarity with Muslim communities in Europe. Their presence did present a real
problem, but it was not an essential problem; the Muslim immigrants way of life was not
fundamentally incompatible with Europe. Some modicum of trust had to be established,
searching for some common values.