The night air in Vienna has finally turned warm, filling the
city's trams with visitors. On the Ringstrasse, tourists take in the
city, pointing out the City Hall and the parliament.
"Did you see that one girl - so young! And wearing a veil," a
woman clucks in lightly accented English, staring out the window of
tram D. "They will form a separate culture."
The sentiment isn't isolated. Earlier this month, Austria's
Interior Minister Liese Prokop announced that 45 percent of Muslim
immigrants were "unintegratable," and suggested that those people
should "choose another country."
In the Netherlands, one of Europe's most integrated refugees and
a critic of radical Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, resigned her seat in
parliament in the wake of criticism that she faked details on her
asylum application to the Netherlands in 1992. And France's lower
house of parliament last week passed a strict new immigration law,
now awaiting Senate approval.
Indeed, recent rumblings from the top echelons of governments
across Europe suggest that the continent is rethinking its once-
vaunted status as a haven for refugees as it becomes more suspicious
that many immigrants are coming to exploit its social benefits and
"The trend today more and more in Europe is to try to control
immigration flow," says Philippe De Bruycker, founder of the
Odysseus Network, an academic consortium on immigration and asylum
in Europe. "At the same time we still say we want to respect the
right of asylum and the possibility of applying for asylum. But of
course along the way we create obstacles for asylum seekers," he
A day after Ms. Prokop made her controversial statement on May
15, Ms. Hirsi Ali - a Somalian immigrant elected to parliament in
2003 - was informed by her own political party that her Dutch
citizenship was in question. Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk, a
former prison warden dubbed "Iron Rita" who has long promised a
tough stance on immigration, said "the preliminary assumption must
be that - in line with case law of the Dutch Supreme Court - [Hirsi
Ali] is considered not to have obtained Dutch nationality."
At issue were inconsistencies in Hirsi Ali's application for
asylum in 1992 - giving a false name and age, and saying she was
fleeing from Somalia's civil war, not a forced marriage. Though she
had publically admitted to the falsities in 2002, a recent TV
documentary heightened public scrutiny of the controversial
parliamentarian, who has been under 24-hour protection from death
threats since the murder of Theo Van Gogh, the director of a film
she wrote. Hirsi Ali's case, heatedly debated across Europe in the
days since Ms. Verdonk's announcement, was seen as particularly
ironic. But it also highlights the dramatic change in Europe since
the turn of this century.
In the years following the World War II, a chagrined US and
Europe vowed to follow the Geneva Conventions and create safe havens
for refugees. …