Shireen Hunter, visiting scholar, Center for Muslim–Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, began by outlining that the meaning of integration was continuously raised as an issue by the participants. There was ultimately no agreed–upon definition, which seemed to differ by country.
Participants agreed that integration needed to be defined according to each state, and that religiosity should not be considered a barrier to integration or a sign of nonintegration. States’ definitions should also recognize multiple identities—and not force Muslims to choose between their religion and their country as a primary identity.
In judging the success or failure of integration, responsibility should fall equally on states and immigrant communities, and problematic issues should be addressed mutually. Civic engagement was indicated as one sign of integration with the caveat that Muslims should not be held to a higher standard of civic engagement than the population at large. Citizenship tests, for instance, should not include questions that the general public would be unable to answer.
Lastly, Ms. Hunter reported the working group’s call for census taking, as has been carried out in the United Kingdom and Canada. These censuses should be conducted on a voluntary basis. Adequate information regarding total numbers, ethnic breakdowns, and socioeconomic conditions of Muslim communities was considered necessary for developing informed public policy vis–à–vis these populations.
In the general discussion, participants concurred that overall, Western media engages in stereotyping of Muslim communities, influencing political discourse and popular opinion. The group asserted the need for national and local governments to facilitate Muslim institutional and cultural outreach to counteract widespread misconceptions about the community. The mayor of Amsterdam, who helped with the organization of the Ramadan festival there, and the mayor of London, who likewise helped organize cultural activities, were held up as examples to follow. The group also suggested that local Muslim communities involve the general public in festivals and also set up alliances between organizations with common interests.
Ms. Hunter listed the following additional conclusions about stereotyping:
On the issues surrounding Muslim youth, Ms. Hunter noted that there were four main concerns shared by the panel:
The group also proposed engaging in public debate in order to demonstrate that civic values are also basic Islamic values. According to the group, it is also through discourse, in particular through theological arguments, that the fallacy of radical discourses can be proven. In addition to schools, a sense of pride in the Islamic legacy should be promoted within the community at large, for instance, by publicizing and introducing real–life Muslim success stories as role models for Muslim youth.
Another major concern for the panel was empowering Muslim communities. Muslims should assert their rights and demand that governments take a consistent and nondiscriminatory approach in enforcing these rights. Nongovernmental and secular Muslim organizations could help achieve this goal. Creating such institutions would also provide a forum for internal debate within the Muslim community.
Ms. Hunter outlined the main recommendations of the panel for empowering the communities:
Ms. Hunter reported the working group’s recommendation to develop a list of “best practices” that have proved effective in achieving the goals outlined above. Muslim organizations and institutions could be asked to provide the conference secretariat with their own proven techniques. She added that some successful examples had already been presented during the workshop, including the following:
While there was no consensus on this issue, Ms. Hunter noted that some participants recognized the need for further discussion of the link debated between foreign policy and local radicalism in the West.
Vincent Tiberj, senior research fellow, Center for Political Research at Paris Institut des Sciences Politiques, added that participants also noted that many issues concerning Muslims are also a source of concern to the general public. Therefore, Muslim communities should also establish broader coalitions with organizations that deal with general common interests and problems of society.