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Go Back to Where You Came From

The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy

By Sasha Polakow-Suransky
13-minute read
Audio available
Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy by Sasha Polakow-Suransky

Go Back to Where You Came From (2017) takes a look at the current international political landscape and explains how the increase in refugees in Europe has contributed to the rise of the right-wing populist movement. It also explains why Muslim immigrants are the subject of such political demonization, how this issue has strengthened political extremism and why the populist movement is a serious threat to democracy as we know it.

  • Political science students or avid news readers
  • Immigrants, refugees and activists
  • Legislators and political decision makers

Sasha Polakow-Suransky is an acclaimed journalist and the former editor of “International Opinion” at the New York Times. He is also the writer of the book The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa.

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Go Back to Where You Came From

The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy

By Sasha Polakow-Suransky
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy by Sasha Polakow-Suransky
Synopsis

Go Back to Where You Came From (2017) takes a look at the current international political landscape and explains how the increase in refugees in Europe has contributed to the rise of the right-wing populist movement. It also explains why Muslim immigrants are the subject of such political demonization, how this issue has strengthened political extremism and why the populist movement is a serious threat to democracy as we know it.

Key idea 1 of 8

Since 9/11, Muslims have been seen as a group that threatens democracy and Western culture.

The repercussions of the attacks on September 11, 2001, continue to be felt to the present day. In particular, we can still see how the attacks have negatively influenced the public perception of Muslims and Muslim migrants.

Even though acts of terrorism reflect the beliefs of a very small minority of the 1.5 billion Muslims across the globe, the world’s entire Muslim population continues to pay the price.

Since 2015, Western Europe has seen a tremendous increase in Muslim immigrants. But due to lingering suspicions that have gradually increased since 9/11, Muslims have struggled to become accepted and integrated into European societies.

Meanwhile, immigrants from Eastern European countries and other non-Muslim parts of the world, despite also causing major demographic changes in Western Europe, are largely seen as nonthreatening.

At the top of the list for why Westerners are worried about Muslim immigrants is the concern that their religion represents a threat to Western culture and democracy.

A common argument is that Muslims coming to Western Europe will try to impose Sharia law, also known as Islamic law. Due to its strict adherence to scripture, people believe this will introduce female subservience, homophobia and other behavior that conflicts with Western, liberal values.

One person that has been vocal in endorsing this point of view is Marine Le Pen of France’s Front National political party. She claims that secularism, one of the defining characteristics of the French Republic, is being dangerously threatened by Muslim immigrants.

Curiously, Le Pen does not see public displays of other religions, such as Christmas nativity scenes in a department store window, to be as threatening to secularism as a neighborhood with a Halal butcher shop.

In the same vein, there’s also Soren Espersen, of Denmark’s far-right People’s Party, who suggests that every immigrant should have to publicly declare their allegiance to the Danish constitution, thereby placing it above their religion in order of importance.

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