There is no difference at all in socioeconomic status between youngsters from a low-education, blue-collar Belgian background and youngsters from a Muslim migrant background. Both have to struggle, both have to overcome weak socioeconomic family situations. In Spain, youth unemployment has reached 50 percent and the welfare state is less developed than in Belgium, yet Spanish citizens aren’t blowing themselves up in metro stations.
The other explanation for the high unemployment figures among Muslims in Europe has nothing to do with exclusion and discrimination. A large segment of the migrant population is doing just fine, but a significant number — some say as many as 50 percent — have not rid themselves of the mental and cultural conditions that have kept their home country in its “developing country” status. The denial of equal rights to women, the lack of separation of state and church, bad education, excessive religiosity, patriarchal machismo — these are all on display in areas with a high percentage of migrants, including Molenbeek.
In December 2013, Professor Ruud Koopmans of the Berlin Social Science Center published a study on “Fundamentalism and out-group hostility,” in which he compared hostility among Muslim immigrants with hostility among Christian natives in Western Europe. He writes: “Almost 60 percent agree that Muslims should return to the roots of Islam, 75 percent think there is only one interpretation of the Quran possible to which every Muslim should stick and 65 percent say that religious rules are more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live.” In regards to Christian citizens he concludes: “Less than 4 percent can be characterized as consistent fundamentalists.”