In case you don't know, I recently spent 10 days in Barcelona. When we realized we had booked a hotel in a Muslim neighborhood, we were literally terrified and almost canceled our trip. I'm glad we didn't, because it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
I've been wanting to write this MyTake for a while. I had originally intended to be really straight forward and post EXACTLY what we thought would happened to us on our trip, but I'm afraid if I do, this post will be removed which I do not want. But people who follow my posts and interact with me frequently, already know my perceptions of Muslims and their effect on Europe. So I will just say THIS, we thought all the horror stories you hear about Muslims in Europe would happened to us, especially after the 2017 La Rambla attacks. So to put it frankly, Yes, we were scared to death of these people. But with all the stories you read about terror attacks and rape gangs in Europe, can you really blame us? Hell, even our cab driver was scared when he pulled into the Muslim neighborhood were our hotel was located.
That being said, I don't want anyone to think that I've flipped completely and that everything you hear in the media is all fake news. I am only describing my experience with Muslims in BARCELONA. In other parts of Europe, the situation could be worst, or it could be better.
Like I said, I had originally planned to write this as a narrative, but instead I decided to list some of the things I found to be false, and some of the things I found to be true, based mostly on my personal experiences, but also some things that I've read. I am pleased to say, that I have more "falses" than I do "truths".
Lack Of Assimilation & Language Skills
I'm sad to say that this is one of the rumors I found to be true. First off however, I will say THIS, the immigrants from secular Muslim countries like Turkey have assimilated very well. Yes, they own Halal restaurants, but they speak Spanish and English, mingle with the opposite sex, and dress like Europeans. If you saw them walking down the street, you wouldn't even know they were Muslims. That's exactly how it SHOULD be. These are also the friendliest and most social of the Muslims in Barcelona. We ended up having three meals in the same Halal Turkish restaurant, because the staff was so warm and spoke English, and the atmosphere was so pleasant. So big props to the Turks!
The non-secular ones, are a different story. You will see them wearing hijab, and either walking with their boyfriend/husband, a large group of women, or a large group of men. You will never see a man in a group of hijabi girls, or vice versa. Most of these are Pakistanis, and good luck trying to communicate with the shop owners. Most of them mainly cater to other Pakistanis, and show you the price on a calculator, so they don't even bother learning Spanish. Many of them don't even open their businesses until noon, and when they don't feel like working, you will see them on the street talking to their friends and ogling women. The men will joke with you, and sometimes laugh AT you, but that's it. The women on the other hand look very intimidating and always seem pissed off. I definitely wouldn't ask them for directions, especially if you're a man. Then there are the burqa women. Yep, I even saw a few of those there. These ones even force their kids to cover their hair. Talk about lack of assimilation. This is the sort of thing Europeans don't want. But at least you don't see Pakistani or Turkish flags all over the place. So Barcelona Muslims are at least more respectful of the cultural landscape. Maybe it's because the local football club is sponsored by Qatar Air.
They want to impose Sharia Law, and make local women cover themselves
Yeah, this one's false. I did read an article about local girls being converted to Islam, but the problem isn't as bad as it is in other parts of Europe. In fact, Barcelona doesn't even have a mosque, only an Islamic Center. The Muslims here don't even want a mosque, as they prefer to pray in small discrete homes. That being said, the orchestrators of the 2017 La Rambla attack, congregated in such a location, so there is always the fear they might be plotting something else. But at least you won't be hearing the call to prayer at 5 in the morning.
Barcelona seems to be home to those Muslims who don't follow the region as they should. What do I mean by this? Well, I saw a hijabi girl French kissing and getting frisky with her boyfriend in a secluded area behind the waterfront. I also walked by a strip club called, "Baghdad Strip Club", with a drawing of a naked girl on it. Okay, the owner may have been an Iraqi Christian, but the strip club was right in the middle of the city's Muslim neighborhood, which should be saying enough. But the fact that it's still standing, is a good indication that Barcelona's Muslims aren't as radical or devout as they are in other places in Europe.
Muslim Neighborhoods Are "No Go Zones"
Yeah, this one's also false. Maybe this is true in other European cities, but in Barcelona, Muslims could care less if you walk through their neighborhood. There is even a 10th century Catholic monastery located smack dab in the middle of one of these so called "Muslim ghettos". That being said, it's not the most pleasant neighborhoods. Although trash is a rare site, you will see graffiti covered buildings, drunks, druggies, piss covered streets, and of course hijabi women. This was the worst Muslim neighborhood we visited in this city, and no one told us we're not allowed to walk there because we aren't Muslim. That being said, I did hear someone outside my hotel in the middle of the night say, "What are you doing here? If I see you here again, I'm gonna beat you up!" Could have been a Muslim, or it could have been the Russian hotel owner chasing someone off. Yes, there are Russians in these neighborhoods too, as well as immigrants from South America. That might explain it. I don't know. But all I will say is, we didn't encounter any of these "No Go Zones" you hear about. But that doesn't mean they don't exist elsewhere in Europe.
The country isn't as safe as it was before immigration.
You will often hear Liberals saying, "Europe isn't anymore dangerous now than it was pre-immigration." Well, although the German government has officially acknowledged that crime has increased significantly after Muslim immigration, as much as I hate to admit it, in the case of Spain, the Liberals are right on this one. Since 1977, Spain has experienced a total of 30 terrorist attacks, some of which were carried out by members of al-Qaida. So terrorism in Spain is nothing new. That being said, from 2009 to 2016, the nation hadn't experienced a single terror attack, until the 2017 La Rambla attacks. That attack however wasn't carried out by Syrian refugees, but by a Moroccan immigrant who had sworn allegiance to ISIS. But since this was the first terror attack to be carried out within a 6 year period, it means that Spain still isn't as bad as some other European countries. However, the city is certainly not the same as it used to be. Tour guides are no longer allowed to drop people off at La Rambla, or drive up hill and police officers armed with machine guns, now patrol the city streets, and are prohibited from giving tourists event times. It is a fact, that had the borders been better secured the La Rambla attack wouldn't have happened. But at least the country has learned from it, unlike some others. The city has stepped up security, and the Spanish government is finally cracking down on illegal immigration from Morocco. The chances of you getting killed in a terrorist attack in Barcelona, are very slim. And don't worry, you won't get raped by Muslims, unless you're walking around through sketchy parts of town at night. In which case, you can just as easily be raped by a Spaniard. The only thing to really watch out for are pick pockets and aggressive prostitutes. Just avoid certain areas after dark, and you'll be fine. That being said, police with machine guns was something you only saw in war zones and Latin American cities. So that is something to think about.
European Culture Is Dead
As is the case with most immigrant groups, Barcelona's Muslims tend to be concentrated in a specific area. Although that area is quite large, it doesn't extend into the city's tourist areas. If you visit the Muslim neighborhoods, you will feel like you're in the Middle East. Just like if you visit Chinatown, you will feel like you are in China. However, the rest of the city especially the tourist sites, still feel very European, with local street musicians, vendors and street performers.
So, what did I learn from all this?
First off, Muslims aren't as scary or as hostile as you might think. Sure, the hijabi and burqa girls can be a bit intimidating, but as long as you don't provoke them, they won't bother you, and I even found them to be more polite than Asians and local Spaniards. And Muslim girls are WAY hotter than Spanish girls. They're fairly respectful of other religions too. I saw an entire group of them at Montserrat. That being said, secular Muslims are still my favorite Muslims, and I DO feel that if they want to live in a WESTERN country, they should dress like WESTERN women. That's why I still have the most respect for the secular Turks.
As for multiculturalism, it has its pros and cons. I don't mind ethnic foods, as I wasn't a huge fan of Spanish food, so it was nice to have variety. But I didn't like seeing hijabi women all over the place. If I wanted that, I would go to a Muslim country. As I mentioned earlier, I think if they should be banned from wearing headscarves. If Muslims DO need to come to Europe, I want them to be secular Muslims who respect Western ideals.
Also, not all the Muslim women you see live there. Some of them, mainly the elegantly dressed ones, are tourists, who have every right to be in the country. With Spain being so close to Morocco, this should be expected.
I won't say I've necessarily changed my stance on immigration, and I still want Europe to stay white. Just like I want Africa to stay black and Mexico to stay Mexican. I think I've started to accept that Muslims have become part of European society. In some countries Muslims DO cause problems, so I still respect the rights of nations to decide who they take into their countries. So although this trip didn't do much to change my views on immigration, it did a lot to change my views on Muslims. Every group has a few bad apples that spoil the bunch, and of course the negative stuff shouldn't be ignored. Yes, the first couple days we were scared shitless. On our very first walk, we thought we were gonna get mugged or sexually assaulted. But after a couple days, our fears subsided, as we came to the realization that the majority of these people are harmless, and not something to be feared. Just watch out for the ones in sweat pants.