Can Muslim migrants survive in the West?

Afsan Chowdhury
Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

People fighting for immigrants. Photo via Conservative Interview


‘Islamic terrorism’ means extreme political violence by (almost always) Muslims in the West or against the West. Causes, roots and sources aside, it’s a practical matter of people living away from their own land and growing up elsewhere. It has been caused by migration to support economies in the more developed West, diplomatic and military relations with erstwhile colonies and Western liberal values.  But as the West faces threats from many forces including “Islamic terrorism’, the question of not just new immigration but the fate of previous generation settled immigrants are raised.  It is not a threat yet but the future does seem uncertain. What about its impact on the migrant sending world?


In every Western crisis, the main issue now is immigration, whether of Trump or Brexit. Scapegoats are needed when an easy solution is not available which also explains the rise of rightist parties in the West. Three main areas affect the average Westerner. A. High economic competition from emerging and rising economies led by China affecting the job market. B. Immigration-legal and illegal- from poorer countries including those which are “Islamic”. C. Military/ terrorist threats from ME countries and their people living in the West and unfriendly states like North Korea. The result is high anxiety in every sector and the inability of Western countries to respond appropriately.  Some of this anxiety has turned into hate and it’s directed towards all the “threatening’ countries. But as the Muslim immigrants are the only ones killing them in their own country, islamophobia is the highest but all non-White people are targets of this new phenomenon. In this scenario, how will the sender countries including Bangladesh cope?


Are sender countries ready to cope?


Western economies are shrinking but developing economies are demographically growing which means traditional labour force absorption destinations are less leading to higher unemployment at home. But even if immigration still makes economic sense to the Western leaders it doesn’t to the people anymore which is why immigration has become a critical electoral issue. But the cracks in the Western world is also widening. Angela Markel has said that Europe can’t depend on the US anymore while Europe itself is fragmenting. More fragile it becomes less hospitable it is towards immigrants.


But the impact will be high in the sender countries including Bangladesh which is experiencing decline in both demand and wages as well as internal job creation. The kind of endless remittance regime envisioned by policy makers here is coming to an end.  Not only does it mean that demand is declining, the efficiency of the financial regime in processing remittance money is very negative. The capacity and preparation of local regimes are seriously poor, leading to more instability. Prosperity is flowing to China, India etc which are not migrant labour driven. Low wage will keep the flow for a while but the decline is terminal given the Western economies decline is itself terminal. The West promoted labour market to sell goods but if markets are squeezed, labour import will obviously decline.


Non-Whites in the West


The African including Muslim African migrants in Europe and US experience much higher repression and their home economies are also poorer so they may wish to stay on in ghetto like conditions in the West having less options. But the Muslim ones are going to face double discrimination as Muslims and non-Whites. Chinese are safer as they are seen as Eurasians and non-terrorists with strong home links to world’s largest economy. Indians are facing discrimination in the West though erroneously and barring Sikhs will assert their identity but upto a point. As part of a flourishing economy they will survive with some discomfort.


Its Muslim Asians and North Africans who will find it increasingly tough to cope and Bangladesh and Pakistan are going to face the heat too. The response to this would be to look at it as a new opportunity to develop economic options that is more efficient than now based on borrowed economy survival mode.


The need is to develop a post-remittance based economy model immediately. Otherwise, what is happening in Europe will see violent echoes here as well.

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