Muslims of Metropolis: The Stories of Three Immigrant Families in the West

Muslims of Metropolis: The Stories of Three Immigrant Families in the West

Muslims of Metropolis: The Stories of Three Immigrant Families in the West

Muslims of Metropolis: The Stories of Three Immigrant Families in the West


The Muslim population globally is comprised of hundreds of ethnic, linguistic, and religious sub-communities. Yet, more often than not, the public conflates these diverse and unrelated communities, branding Muslim immigrants as a single, suspicious, and culturally antagonistic group of people. Generalizations like these have compromised many Muslim immigrants' sense of belonging and acceptance in places where they have lived, in some cases, for three or four generations.

In Muslims of Metropolis, Kavitha Rajagopalan takes a much needed step in personalizing and humanizing our understanding of the Muslim diaspora. Tracing the stories of three very different families-a Palestinian family moving to London, a Kurdish family moving to Berlin, and a Bangladeshi family moving to New York-she reveals a level of complexity and nuance that is seldom considered. Through their voices and in their words, Rajagopalan describes what prompted these families to leave home, what challenges they faced in adjusting to their new lives, and how they came to view their place in society. Interviews with community leaders, social justice organizations, and with academics and political experts in each of the countries add additional layers of insight to how broad political issues, like nationalist conflict, immigration reform, and antiterrorism strategies affect the lives of Muslims who have migrated in search of economic stability and personal happiness.

Although recent thinking about immigration policy in the United States and Europe emphasizes the importance of long-term integration, a global attitude that continues to sensationalize divisions between Muslim and other communities thwarts this possibility. Integration cannot occur with policy solutions alone-people must feel that they belong to a larger society. Whether read as simple stories or broader narratives, the voices in this revealing book are among the many speaking against generalization, prejudice, and fear that has so far surrounded Muslims living in the West.


In the last decade, widespread discussion of Muslim countries, immigrants, religious practices, social customs, and political beliefs has rendered Muslims far more visible than they have been at any other time in Western history. But more often than not, the rhetoric of these public discussions conflates diverse and unrelated communities into one group, and associates Islamic identity with largely negative social stereotypes. in countries throughout the West, Muslim immigrants live under the scrutiny of the rest of society, and at times of the government. They are regularly suspected of sympathizing with movements characterized as sociopathic, terrorist, and anti-Western. Frequently, they are accused of outrageous designs on Western democracy and values, and of attempting to replace tolerant Western secularism with Islamist theocracy. Some commentators have even gone so far as to say that the West’s very tolerance of Islam in its midst will be its undoing. the debate surrounding Muslim immigrant communities in the West and Muslim majority countries abroad has often been confused by misinformation, reduced to stereotype, and degraded by fear.

Fear of Islam is not new to Western society. Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, as different revolutionary groups employed similar Islamic rhetoric or militant tactics to advance their separate goals, the image of the Muslim terrorist became a common trope in Western news media and pop culture. Despite the unique histories, players, and implications of these revolutionary movements, there emerged a single image—the Islamist militant, the . . .

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