The End of Multiculturalism?

A recent effort in London to evict a mosque from an abandoned part of the city has sparked discussion on the future of multiculturalism in Europe.  Multiculturalism is the idea that the cultural differences of ethnic and religious groups should be respected and that ethnic and religious groups should not be forced to assimilate.  Critics of multiculturalism claim the failure to require assimilation has led to a society of people who don’t speak the local language, lack basic skills, and has led to increasing jobless rates.  Some European countries have already attempted to force assimilation.  France, for example, now prohibits Muslim women from wearing burqas, and has mandatory courses on “French values” that all immigrants must take.  What do you think?  Does a country have a right to force its citizens to assimilate or does this violate an ethnic or religious group’s right to self-determination?



  1. I do not think that a country should be able to force its citizens to assimilate. This violates ethnic and religious groups’ rights to self-determination. Moreover, it seems contrary to basic European Union principles of anti-discrimination and equality found in various EU legislative documents, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

    These efforts to evict the mosque remind me of the efforts in Italy and France to expel the Roma this past Fall.

  2. I don’t think a government should be able to force people to assimilate, however, I do think that if they want to become a citizen of that country they should at least have some knowledge of the history and language of that country. It’s the same in the US, to become a citizen you have to take a US history type test/know the constitution and know how to speak at least a little english. Otherwise, it would be very difficult to keep a country together as a united whole with so many people that don’t understand what’s going on and why. But I do think that countries should still respect people’s cultures. In the US we have freedom of religion that allows this. By allowing people to remain true to who they are while still incorporating them into the country creates a diverse nation where people can learn from each other.

  3. European countries are different from the United States, in the sense that, the United States is a “nation of immigrants.” It is common in the United States to have grandparents or parents that are not native to this country. However, it is important that citizens of the United States have some unifying elements. For example, it is imperative that all children go to school and learn English. Proficiency in English is essential to finding employment or obtaining a high level of education. However, this is different from preventing people from practicing and expressing their cultural and religious views. A nation becomes richer based on diverse cultural and religious backgrounds.

  4. I agree with Ellen on this topic. It is very important that countries respect the cultures of those immigrating to their country; however, a country also needs to have a unified system where everyone can function together. I completely disagree with France’s mandatory courses on “French values.” A country has no right to attempt to change people’s values, which can be very personal and sacred to a person of any culture. The American system has the right idea by giving a test to those seeking citizenship that assesses their knowledge of American history, how the government operates, and how the country functions. This test does not require any immigrants to change who they are as a person or what they believe in. In additional to the test I think it is also important for immigrants to know the native language of the country. There are so many potential difficulties for those that do not speak the language of the land and it may be beneficial for all involved to make some sort of language requirement. I do not think that a language requirement interferes at all with a country still respecting the cultural difference of their immigrants.

    As Americans I think our view on this topic is skewed for the simple fact that we are the melting pot of the world. In America you might see a church on one corner and a mosque on another, and no one would think too much about it. We have American pride, but to us it means something different than forcing every citizen to assimilate into one national way of life.

  5. I do think it is important that countries educate immigrants about what life is going to be like in their new country, for example, the French Values course that was mentioned. Nowhere is there a requirement that immigrants have to adopt these values as their own and compromise their belief system. Instead, it is there to give them an idea of what they are getting themselves into. Immigrants coming to a new country need to be willing to respect certain aspects of the culture of their new country. If you choose to go to another country, you need to understand that some things may be different there, and you can’t expect to be able to do whatever you want because that’s how things are back home.
    Obviously people should have respect and tolerance for different cultures and religions, however, this works both ways.

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