Again, the piece demonstrates that the loyalties, concerns and politics of Muslims don't differ much from those of their socio-economic peers in the rest of the population. Why should this surprise us? A good friend of mine, who's travelled a lot around the Middle East spending time with all sorts of people, has always pointed out that when you get past the front door you find the same basic worries, joys and preoccupations that you'd expect to find at home. It's easy to lose sight of this - it should actually be a truism - when the images we see of Muslims are overwhelmingly in the context of conflict, war and protest.
What's more, the birthrate of Muslims in France is also converging on the mean. It's been falling since the early-1980s and now stands at 2.5 versus 2.0 (interestingly the birthrate in the Maghreb is 1.8). In the next few decades France's Muslim population will grow to be a larger minority, but nevertheless still a small one.
Increasingly Islamic traditions are being frenchified: weddings in mosques where the bride wears white, carries a bouquet and holds hands with the groom. One French academic calls this process formatage: the creation of a new sub-culture, both French and Islamic.
What Kuper and others are reporting contradicts the 'clash of civilisations' thesis that sees Europe turning into 'Eurabia', with dominant Muslim populations imposing their values on a demoralised ethnically European rump. The thesis is usually linked to neo-conservatism. Christopher Caldwell is currently its most high-profile proponent through his modestly-titled 'Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West'*. He argues:
When an insecure, malleable, relativistic culture meets a culture that is anchored, confident and strengthened by common doctrines, it is generally the former that changes to suit the latter.
But why think of things in these terms? Surely, Islam is being challenged everywhere by the temptations of modernity? I've always thought of Islamic fundamentalism as, in part, the product of an embattled faith, a misguided attempt at fight-back.
So how about this?
When a questioning, dynamic, accommodating culture meets a culture that is staid, inward-looking and unreflective, it is generally the latter that changes to suit the former.
Dynamic, France? Look at formatage. And, after all, hasn't this been the story of modernity's global impact over the last couple of hundred years?
Of course, there's one group of people that share the neo-cons' incendiary view of Islam and pessimistic view of the West (or at least Europe): the Islamists. I think we can feel increasingly confident that neither group is representative of the future.
* Not content with taking on Burke's mantle, in one interview he compared his efforts to Tocqueville's. Time will tell.