Those Immigrants…

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Photo: Tom Godber, flickr
Photo: Tom Godber, flickr

Migrant integration in Europe is one of the hot topics on the continent, especially concerning Muslims. A number of Muslim immigrants in France arrived from Algeria in the second half of the 20th century due to the colonial relationship that lasted until 1962.  In France, and the rest of Europe, its the cultural-religious differences between devout Muslims and the secular majority that gives sociologists and right-wing politicians a lot to write about.

As one of the interesting side effects of globalization, Algeria itself now seems to have some problems with non-Muslim immigrants. There are an estimated 35,000 Chinese who live in the country who seem to be unwilling or unable to assimilate to the cultural norms of their hosts.

Reuters quotes an Algerian shopkeeper named Abdelkrim Salouda, who apparently was involved in a clash between Algerians and Chinese locals this month. He expresses some of the resentment of the local population to the increasing Chinese presence:

“They have offended us with their bad behavior,” said Salouda, a devout Muslim who lives in a suburb of the Algerian capital. “In the evening […] they drink beer, and play cards and they wear shorts in front of the residents.”

A report from the Financial Times earlier this month indcated that the resentment toward the Chinese workers stems form a combination of cultural misunderstandings and the fact that many Chinese workers are better qualified and work harder than the local population.

This means that some Algerians think that the Chinese are taking away their jobs. Sound familiar?

In an age of globalization, people move around the world to find their luck. This means that the geographical separation of cultures, and their values, becomes increasingly fuzzy.

This is likely to create even more problems in the future unless host nations find a way to integrate their newcomers. Integration means that an immigrant respects the culture and values of the country he chooses to settle in. In return, the hosts have to accept certain cultural practices as long as they don’t threaten the security of the state.

It seems like Europe and Algeria still haven’t found the right recipe to make this work.

One reply on “Those Immigrants…”

I doubt there will every be a ‘recipe’ though- I think it will be a process of hit and miss, lasting for generations, if not centuries. Human relations and cultural relations exist in a state of constant flux and globalization has simply made this ‘flux’ more difficult to manage. On the other hand, over time, I do think that a lot of convergence will occur between cultures and ‘civilizations’ and we will, through mistakes and clashes most probably, learn how to live in peace with each other. Human history is messy and will always remain so.

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