Are Class Differences Between Muslims in Europe and U.S. Really Determining Factor in Terror Attacks?

Many Muslims in Europe share characteristics with Europe’s nationalists — and, in the U.S., supporters of Trump. (Photo: IBT Times)

Many Muslims in Europe share characteristics with Europe’s nationalists — and, in the U.S., supporters of Trump. (Photo: IBT Times)

At Politico magazine, Daniel Benjamin writes: “Since 9/11, the four largest attacks in Europe … have claimed at least 426 lives. In the United States, even with the Fort Hood shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing and San Bernardino, the total is 45.” In other words: “Western European Muslims are three times likelier to end up in ISIS than their American co-religionists.”

More from Benjamin:

In the United States, Muslim communities are mostly comprised of reasonably well-off families from numerous Muslim-majority countries.

Aside from Somalian refugees, “Income and education levels are roughly those of average Americans.”

By contrast, Europe’s Muslim communities were seeded by poor peasants who came as guest workers for the burgeoning industries of the postwar period. They were expected to return home. Instead, they stayed even as their industries faded—think of Britain’s rust belt in the Midlands—and grew in numbers due to family unification and comparatively high fertility.

They came poor and, to a large extent, have stayed poor, with little access to higher education and much higher unemployment rates than those of the non-Muslim populations.

In other words, they’re a lot like the European nationalists who oppose them. Also, when Benjamin writes that “even as their industries faded—think of Britain’s rust belt in the Midlands,” he might also have cited the U.S. rust belt. Many of its inhabitants are Donald Trump’s constituency.

If income inequality continues in the United States and the economy takes another hit from the machinations of the corporate rich, the frequency and size of terrorist attacks in the United States might begin to resemble Europe.

It should also be pointed out that class isn’t always a determining factor in creating terrorists. While the Islamic State lures the poor and disenfranchised and is indiscriminate about who they recruit, Al Qaeda has always vetted potential recruits more closely.  In fact, not only has much of its command brain trust long come from the middle class and professional world, so has much of its rank and file. One has only to think of how educated some of the 9/11 hijackers were.