Europe Is Growing Skeptical Of Dialogue With Muslims
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
After years of dithering over political correctness with Muslims and Islam, Europe is waking up to a different morning.
A three-week tour of Italy, France, and Britain last month was enough for me to conclude that Western Europeans have moved way beyond dialogue. Confrontation, indeed even provocation, is their preferred approach to the Muslims in their midst.
Long before Pope Benedict XVI’s scathing comments in mid-September on the fallacy of phony Muslim-Christian dialogue, signs of hardening European views toward current Islamic values were plentiful on the Continent.
It was telling, for example, to see how Europeans greeted the naïve commentary that surfaced in America’s National Intelligence Estimate, titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States.” The NIE told bemused Europeans, among other things, that “greater pluralism and more responsive political systems in Muslim majority nations would alleviate some of the grievances jihadists exploit.”
Situated closer than America to that rough neighborhood called the Middle East, Europeans reacted by noting that the chances for “greater pluralism” in any Muslim country are about as plausible as hell freezing over.
Should the region’s despotic regimes be toppled, a number of press outlets observed, their successors would be even nastier murderers. Possibilities include the saber-wielding soldiers of the Muslim Brotherhood and its tributaries — Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, among others — men who believe in carrying out ritual killings of their fellow Muslims even before the slaughter of infidels.
The common view in Europe is that pseudo-secularist tyrants in Muslim lands like Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia share the same aspirations to dominate, wage war, and rule as Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and Ayman al-Zawahiri of Al Qaeda.
A more relevant passage in the NIE reads: “Jihadists regard Europe as an important venue for attacking Western interests. Extremist networks inside the extensive Muslim diaspora in Europe facilitate recruitment and staging for urban attacks, as illustrated by the 2004 Madrid and 2005 London bombings.”
Indeed, what can one say about Britain’s Muslims, when 10% of those polled after the August airliner plot said they would be “willing” to wage suicide attacks against their fellow Britons, and another 70% refused to condemn that view?
Europeans now see a need not to massage the Muslim ethos but to remove it. One can talk forever of the necessity for Islam to reform itself, but that fails to resonate within Muslim societies, Europeans tell me.
My European tour made it eminently clear that Western Europeans — if not their more liberal, compromised ruling and business elites — believe that for Muslims living in the West, it’s either Western ways or the highway.
Harsh, maybe, but that is how it stands.
When the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci died in September, newspapers across Europe celebrated her for her journalistic exploits with the likes of Ayatollah Khomeini and Henry Kissinger. But above all, they celebrated her for her fierce, uncompromising, “rejectionist” book about Islam in Europe, “The Rage and the Pride,” which called for nothing less than the expulsion of Muslims who insist on separate societies.
Shortly before and after the pope’s pointed remarks on Islam — in which he added to his earlier statements that Turkey’s 70 million Muslims have no place in “Christian Europe” — there were numerous other mini-explosions. They included Dutch revulsion over the ritual Muslim killing of the movie director Theo van Gogh; the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad; and, most recently, a September 19 article in Le Figaro by the French philosopher and schoolteacher Robert Redeker that made the case that Muslims are bent on muzzling Europe’s democratic values.
Europe is no longer dithering. Every other week, parliaments are restricting the freedom of expression of Muslim fundamentalists, preachers, and madrassas, and questioning every value that militant Islam has attempted to sneak into the Continent over the past 20 years.
The dialogue is over. The time for action is closing in.