Are Muslims in the United States more assimilated than in Europe?

According to the Cato Institute – the answer is yes. On what basis? Because Muslims in the United States have opinions on issues like abortion and homosexuality that are more in line with the general population than in Europe.

img_3746Cato quotes stats from Pew and Gallup showing that while 58% of Britons find homosexuality morally acceptable, next to no British Muslims do. While in the US, it’s 48% of the US who are fine with gay rights and 27% of American Muslims. So the gap in attitudes between Muslims and non-Muslims in the US seems to be much narrower.

On abortion, 55% of Britons are fine with abortion while only 5% of British Muslims find it morally acceptable. Go to the US and it’s 55% of non-Muslims who think abortion is moral compared to 40% of Muslims. Again, a narrower gap.

Cato then moves on to the labour market. In the US, Muslims are more likely to be in work than non-Muslims. That is reversed in Europe where unemployment rates are alarmingly high – particularly among women. This non-participation in the labour market creates a gulf between Muslims and the rest of society, Cato argues.

Something else is going on that may explain better assimilation in the United States than in Europe. Between 2007 and 2014, the number of Muslims who believe in a literal approach to scripture fell eight percentage points from 50% while the non-literalists rose by 10%. Pew has also found that at least 23% of US residents raised in Muslim households had left their religion altogether.

This contrasts with Europe where second and third generation Muslims have often parted company with their parents’ cultural Islam seeking instead a globalised Muslim identity. That can include the hyper-literalism of salafism and in some instances, an adherence to extremist Islamism. But the picture is not all grim. London has a Muslim mayor who is a role model of integration and several Muslims sit in parliament. An increasing number of Muslims are successful in business and the arts but nevertheless, a degree of alienation clearly persists.

In spite of what looks like a rosier picture in the US, this did not stop the 2016 presidential election including a call by the Republican candidate Donald Trump to impose a ban on any more Muslims entering the country. Yet Muslims appear to have been an assimilation success story – especially compared to Europe.