So, Belgium has banned the burqua.
This comes on the heals of Switzerland banning minarets.
Both are clearly symbolic acts since there's no evidence that anyone wanted to build new minarets in Switzerland and the only people wearing burquas in Belgium were wealthy tourists.
What it's designed to do is say to people who are thinking about immigrating from Northern Africa to Europe: "You are not welcome here."
The problem is that they already know they are not welcome. Most of them come here from Algeria or Morocco after their friends and family have already done so. They've already heard how hard it is to find jobs, that the native population will treat them like shit, that people drink alcohol here and that the women walk around in short skirts.
But, they don't care. They don't come here so that they will be embraced with open arms. They don't come here because they think they will get rich. They come here for one powerful reason: They think Europe will provide a better future for their children.
And, so they arrive and work in kebab shops or bodegas (or open kebab shops and bodegas) and do the best they can.
Some of them will become assholes. Some will become successful. But, they'll do so of their own accord whether or not they feel welcome or not.
And, here's the thing, the difference between them becoming shitheads who will mug you and/or blow up your metros is this: whether or not they are able to assimilate.
True story: When I was a student here my host sister's father was a first generation Arab in Montpellier. He'd emigrated here in the 1960's with a dentistry degree. First he opened a small dental office in the worst of the Arab slums because it cost him almost nothing in rent.
All his initial patients were Arabs. Eventually he met a French girl and against her parents wishes married her. This gave him an "in" to French life.
By the time he retired he had an office in centre ville and was taking care of Rome Girl's teeth. His daughter was the first girl in the history of Montpellier to get a perfect score on her baccalaureate. She went to the Sorbonne and is now a high level trader for one of France's largest banks.
So, while it's difficult, it's not impossible to assimilate and the immigrants can be an asset to Europe. But, the difference is that he accepted the values of the French. His wife drank wine and dressed "Western". He was cool with his daughter hanging out with me in clubs when she was 16 or 17.
He was also lucky in that he came here with a skill. Many North Africans don't have that option.
Anyway, to get back to my original point, Muslim immigration is here to stay. What has to be done now is to find ways to make it work. Doing symbolic things like banning minarets and burquas do nothing but make muslims feel like they can't assimilate. This will push them more into their ghettos and distance them from the culture and make them more likely to fail and become angry.
Encouraging them to become part of the culture rather than pulling away from them, will likely make them see the rest of us as human beings and less likely to mug us or blow us up.
But it's a two way street:
1. Europe has to make assimilation easier. If you try to marginalize the population they'll bite back.
2. The Muslims who come here have to make some effort to become part of the population. You can't try to create Little Algeria here and bitch and moan about the evils of booze or sex or how slutty the women look. Remember, you came here to help your children have a better life. That means you have to expose them to life as it really is in Europe, not as you would like it to be.