Islamic Immigrants And Multiculturalism In Barcelona

2244 words - 9 pages

Islamic Immigrants and Multiculturalism in Barcelona – Revisited

After living in Barcelona for almost one year my original insights as to the perception and integration of Islamic immigrants in this city has changed little. Firstly, it must be said, however, that I myself am an immigrant to Spain and as such my interpretation of the integration and perception of Islamic immigrants in Barcelona is affected by my own cultural bias and this may lead to some misunderstandings on my part. Also, one year of living in Barcelona has not been ample enough time to effectively assess any marked changes in my area of focus and many of my previous insights appear to remain valid. The role, ...view middle of the document...

Admittedly, my further observations of the integration and perception of the Islamic immigrants here in Barcelona only serves to explore and further discuss the issue.

If I ask people about multiculturalism here in Barcelona many are likely to say that Barcelona is a very cosmopolitan and international city. This is a normal response that many people share in the social circles that I frequent. However, it has to be taken into consideration that I share my time with other expatriates, Erasmus students and immigrants that shape and form their opinions on the city based on what they experience. Contact in the centre of the city of Barcelona with tourists, foreigners and immigrants is common and it leads to an image of the city as being a ‘melting pot’ containing a pluralist society. Whilst there is a level of pluralism, the topic of Islamic immigration is often left out of discussions about Barcelona’s cosmopolitan image. In many ways the integration of Islamic immigrants within society is far from embraced as many of them have been forced to live in the less desirable parts of Barcelona, such as El Raval or Barceloneta, and many are blamed for the presence of crime and petty theft in those areas. Many are also forced to work illegally in the practice of street vending and this reflects negatively on themselves and their integration into society. In my previous report I reflected on how different barrios (suburbs) were introducing signs that called for change. Written on the signs was “Volem un Barri Digne”, (which means in Catalan ‘We want a dignified neighbourhood’), and they were spread from balcony to balcony in a community initiative by the platform Raval per Viure to protest against the deteriorating state of the neighbourhood with particular reference to street vending and crime. It only appears that these signs have increased in number, therefore suggesting that the level of crime and street vending in the area has not diminished and the perception of these areas remains the same.

Many people view the Islamic immigrants reason for being in Barcelonan society based on a desire by them to find work and opportunities in Europe to embetter their and their family’s lives. To some extent the recent influx of Moroccan and Pakistani immigrants is to do just that, as Stoddard (2010) explains “a large majority of European Muslims have immigrated to fill low-skilled labor positions” (Stoddard 2010, para. 6). However, with the current downturn in the economic sector and the prolonged state of crisis in Spain the perception of Islamic immigrants still resorting to self-employment as a means to survive is still relevant. With Spain’s unemployment rate at over 20% and barely dropping all year (UK IBTIMES), many Islamic immigrants are experiencing difficulties in finding employment and therefore are experiencing prolonged hardship. In my experience the shops and street vending that are most prevalent in the areas mentioned...

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