The Irshad Learning Center had sought to open a worship center for up to 100 people inside a single-family home at 25W030 75th St. that had been previously used as a private school.
In 2010, the county board voted 10-7 to deny its application for a conditional use permit after some neighbors complained their property values would go down.
Irshad, which has about 75 members, filed a lawsuit challenging the decision on grounds ranging from religious discrimination to the county’s alleged violations of its own zoning laws.
Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer found in a 70-page ruling there was no “direct evidence of deliberate discrimination” by the county or its workers, though she noted that a zoning board of appeals member had asked the group’s attorney if animal sacrifices would be held.
But she did find that DuPage County’s “repeated errors, speculation and refusal to impose conditions” under which the project could be approved led her to conclude that the county had wrongly imposed a “substantial burden” on the group’s application and that its denial was “arbitrary and capricious.”
In a recent interview, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said multiculturalism has failed in his country:
“My answer is clearly yes, it is a failure,” he said in a television interview when asked about the policy which advocates that host societies welcome and foster distinct cultural and religious immigrant groups.
“Of course we must all respect differences, but we do not want… a society where communities coexist side by side.
“If you come to France, you accept to melt into a single community, which is the national community, and if you do not want to accept that, you cannot be welcome in France,” the right-wing president said.
“The French national community cannot accept a change in its lifestyle, equality between men and women… freedom for little girls to go to school,” he said.
“We have been too concerned about the identity of the person who was arriving and not enough about the identity of the country that was receiving him,” Sarkozy said in the TFI channel show.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia’s ex-prime minister John Howard and Spanish ex-premier Jose Maria Aznar have also recently said multicultural policies have not successfully integrated immigrants.
Based on what Sarkozy said in this interview, it sounds like he either has a different definition of multiculturalism or a different end goal. A contrast to multiculturalism would be assimilation where newcomers to a country (or any group) should quickly or eventually adopt the customs and values of the country they have entered. Sarkozy is suggesting that because some immigrants have not done this, multiculturalism has failed. But Sarkozy seems to be explaining how assimilation has failed. The Oxford English Dictionary defines multiculturalism thusly: “the policy or process whereby the distinctive identities of the cultural groups within such a society are maintained or supported.” In this sense, a long-running policy of multiculturalism ends up changing the larger culture to some degree. It sounds like Sarkozy (and some of these other leaders) are not as interested in this. Can French or English or German culture change and incorporate elements of cultures from immigrants living within their borders?
These comments from various leaders seem to have been motivated in part by growing Muslim populations in these nations.
It is also interesting to note that there is not a whole lot of public discussion about this in the United States. Some of this may be more below the surface, particularly when issues like immigration arise (though this has been overwhelmed by economic concerns). Can you imagine an American political leader of any party making a statement like these Western European leaders have?
Pew has a new report on projecting the Muslim population around the world for 2030. You can look at separate reports by region and there is a lot of interesting information. If you look at the data for the United States, the prediction is that there will be 6.2 million Muslims by 2030. This is still a relatively small percentage compared to the total population though this would be a 140% increase. The numbers for Europe are quite different: the projection is France, Belgium, and Russia will be more than 10% Muslim.
Lots of good data here on everything from fertility rates to migration to age breakdowns.
Robert Putnam and several other researchers discovered that there is a large gap between what Americans say about religious freedom and what they are actually willing to live near:
Three quarters of Americans said they would support a large Buddhist temple in their community, but only 15 percent would explicitly welcome one. Americans, in other words, supported the idea of a temple but weren’t so crazy about the bricks-and-mortar aspect of things.
Recent survey findings in the wake of the Ground Zero controversy reveal similar findings:
Polling last week from Quinnipiac University revealed exactly the same paradox. Seventy percent of Americans support the rights of Muslims to build the mosque, but 63 percent believe it would be inappropriate to actually build it.
It sounds like there is an ideal that Americans hold about freedom of religion: many different groups are welcome. But this ideal is difficult to put into action.