Today the third generation is coming of age. It is more enfranchised and confident than the first two. Most of its members want little truck with either foreign imams or violent jihadist propaganda. Instead, for young Muslims in the West, faith is increasingly becoming a matter of personal choice. Their beliefs range from ultra-conservative to path-breakingly liberal. Some prominent scholars allow female converts to keep non-Muslim husbands; a few congregations conduct weekly prayers on Sundays, because the faithful go to work on Fridays; there are even women-led mosques. At the same time Western institutions are gradually opening up to Muslims. London and Rotterdam are both run by Muslim mayors. Two Muslim women, one of them veiled, were voted into the United States Congress last year.
How can Western governments encourage this transition? Their main task is to focus on upholding the law rather than try to force Muslims to change their beliefs. The West is enjoying a decline in attacks by jihadists. The number they killed in Europe fell from over 150 in 2015 to 14 last year. Attacks not only threaten lives and property, they also set back relations between Muslims and those around them. That is why criminality must be dealt with firmly by the law and the intelligence services.