Professor Alexander Betts has a new article published in Foreign Affairs this week, on ‘The elephant in the room: Islam and the crisis of liberal values in Europe’. Here he argues that the elephant in the room of the current EU refugee crisis is ‘an underlying Islamophobia’. He states: “The simple fact is that European member states don’t really want to welcome Muslim migrants.” And while far-right parties have been explicit in this, stoking xenophobia, Western Europe’s ‘liberal political elites’ have avoided acknowledging that “the biggest barrier to coherent asylum and migration policy in Europe is public anxiety about Islam”.
He goes on to say that: “The polarization of the debate [between extremes of right and left] has left a dearth of language through which remaining moderate politicians can articulate how Europeans should think about Islam, refugees, and migration… Questions of migration management and integration policy are valid social concerns, but they must be addressed through informed and rational debate. Against a backdrop of incoherent and muddled thinking, Europe needs a new centrist politics.”