How nationalism can solve the crisis of Islam

As for the West’s often ill-assimilated native Muslim populations, like the British community that produced the Manchester bomber, here too Mr. Manent prefers a “national solution.” For starters, he says, “we must accept that the Muslims who are among us will remain Muslims.” It follows that the West must “do things so that Muslims feel that they can be reasonably happy Muslims” in a non-Muslim environment.

The basic bargain: “We accept Muslims, but they also have to accept us.” In France that might mean dialing back laïcité, the official secularist dogma that restricts many public expressions of faith. “We won’t bother you about your veils or the way you eat,” Mr. Manent says. “In school lunches, meat without pork will be available. It’s silly and mean to say, ‘They will eat pork or they won’t eat.’ Muslims shouldn’t always be under suspicious eyes.”

But then, he continues, the French would demand reciprocity of Muslims: “You really belong to France. You turn toward it and your life will be centered on this European country, which is not and will never be a Muslim country.”

What he wants to combat is the widespread sense of alienation, particularly among young Muslims who are “paper French”—citizens without political attachment. In practice, this would involve the government’s insisting that mosques and cultural associations cut their ties with Algeria, Tunisia and other foreign countries and instead actively promote an indigenous French Islam.

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