This is ironic on so many levels. One is that the EU has discouraged assimilation at the behest of the Arab League and Muslim leaders in Europe since 1973 — see Bat Ye’or’s Eurabia. The other irony is that statements like Straw’s were calls to assimilate — and were greeted only with hostility by Muslim leaders. From AP, with thanks to Fjordman:
Stratford-Upon-Avon, England: Interior ministers from six of Europe’s most populous nations met to seek ways to curtail alienation among the continent’s Muslims.
The issue topped the agenda of the interior ministers of Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland who concluded a two-day summit yesterday.
Concerns about alienation of European Muslims were highlighted by violence in the deprived suburbs of Paris, where youths – many from immigrant families – set three buses on fire before the first anniversary of three weeks of rioting that raged there last year.
Relations between Europe’s Muslims and non-Muslims have become a contentious issue around the continent, with strains growing and many fearing that increasing numbers of disaffected young people are being seduced by extremism.
The ministers agreed to work together to promote integration and said they would stage media campaigns and public events to try to persuade young Muslims to reject radical ideologies and embrace democratic values.
They said they would target young audiences with messages from ‘secular Muslim’ role models as part of the effort.
A debate over the veils some women wear has prompted emotionally charged arguments about minority groups’ identities and integration. Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw set off the argument by announcing he had asked Muslim women to remove their veils when they came for meetings in his district office.