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Europe Waking Up to Islamic Illiberalism

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It appears as though the European left is finally waking up to what isolated leftists like Christopher Hitchens, Orianna Fallaci and Paul Berman have been saying for some time: that many of the basic values held by Muslims throughout the world are simply at odds with those of Western civilization, especially liberal Western civilization – gay rights, women’s rights, abortion rights, multiculturalism, separation of church and state, interfaith dialogue and opposition to the death penalty.

Lorenzo Vidino & Erick Stakelbeck discuss this:

    Last month, as Muslims in the small northern Italian town of Luino prepared to celebrate the annual Islamic Eid Al-Adha, or “Feast of Sacrifice,” they were met by some surprising opposition. The feast, which requires the slaughter of rams and lambs carried out according to Islamic tradition – meaning the animal must bleed to death after its throat is slit – sparked outrage amongst the region’s animal-rights activists. Abandoning the hushed reverence with which Europe’s Left usually regards all things Islamic, a coalition of groups gathered in front of a Luino slaughterhouse in an effort to prevent trucks loaded with animals from entering. Soon enough, the protesters – some of whom, ironically, wore Palestinian keffiyehs – were confronted by a group of angry local Muslims shouting “Allah u Akhbar!” (“God is Great!”). In the past, such blatant disregard for Muslim sensitivities would have caused the local Left to apologize profusely and enroll in cultural sensitivity training, post haste. But in today’s increasingly Islamicized Europe, many on the Left are slowly realizing that the behavior of large segments of Europe’s Muslim population represents the antithesis of their politically correct ideals and values.

    ….supporters of the ban of the Muslim veil in France and Belgium come from a variety of political parties, including some in which multiculturalism is normally considered gospel. A member of the Belgian Socialist party, Anne-Marie Lizin, declared to the British newspaper the Guardian that, “It’s not normal that in certain parts of Brussels there are more women in veils than in the streets of Algiers.”

    ….In Spain, Muslim imam Mohamed Kamal Mustafa, who wrote a 120-page book, “Women in Islam,” which taught Muslim men the “proper” way to beat their wives, was sentenced in January to fifteen months in prison for encouraging violence against women. In the book, Mustafa urged husbands not to hit their wives on sensitive parts of the body but, rather, “on hands and feet, using a light rod so that the blows don’t leave scars or bruises.” In his decision, Judge Juan Pedro Yllanes said that Mustafa’s book was “infused with a tone of obsolete machismo,” and “incompatible with the reigning social mores.” [NRO]

Though I don’t think Mustafa should have been jailed for his views – freedom of speech is much stronger here than anywhere I am aware of in Europe, I am very pleased that his work was so thoroughly denounced and rejected by Spanish society and government.

    Recently, feminist and other Leftist organizations in Europe have also taken a decisive stand against female circumcision, a gruesome practice occurring with increased frequency in the West as its third-world population grows. When a Muslim gynecologist in Florence proposed “soft” circumcisions for local Muslim women, Florence city officials — renowned for their left-wing politics and for supporting the ban of the crucifix in Italian schools – responded with a resounding “no.” One of them, Marzia Monciatti, was quoted as saying that certain traditions are at such odds with Italian values that accepting them in any form was impossible.

    The European Left’s strong support for Muslim immigrants has traditionally been twofold: first, Muslims are a religious and ethnic minority in Europe and therefore advance the Left’s multicultural agenda. Secondly, as evidenced by their joint participation in the antiwar protests of the past two years, Europe’s Left shares with many Muslim immigrants a resentment of the U.S., Israel and capitalism.

It would appear these areas of commonality are not enough to outweigh the areas of disagreement mentioned at the top. In time, I hope that the left at home and abroad realizes that the war on terror is equally a war against illiberal values and intolerance, that it is, in Berman’s words used to describe the war in Iraq, a “left-wing war of liberation.”

Vidino and Stakelbeck conclude:

    As its ever-growing Muslim population continues to alter the Old Continent’s social fabric, the European Left seems to be coming to the realization that the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” adage to which it has traditionally ascribed its support of mass Muslim immigration no longer applies. For many of Europe’s Muslims, the most pressing “enemy” is not the U.S., Israel or capitalism, but the liberal, secularized way of life practiced by their “infidel” hosts.

This realization, as belated as it may be, is a very encouraging sign.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.kalyr.com/weblog Tim Hall

    …that many of the basic values held by Muslims throughout the world are simply at odds with those of Western civilization…

    Leaving aside arguments of whether the extremists described in that article are any more representative of their faith than Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps are of theirs, precisely what do you propose that European nations do? Expel the entire moslem community? Suppress the practice of their religion and force it underground?

  • Eric Olsen

    Tim, ever vigilant for your moderate neighbors, I see (smile).

    No, not at all, the practice of their religion is absolutely protected and supported – it’s the illiberal cultural and political values that must be deemed unacceptable: if you are going to live here, you must accept and live by certain fundamental values: separation of church and state and individual (including women) rights/equality, being preeminent. You will live by our laws, not sharia.

    I don’t much care about the veil either way: in the U.S. the veil is protected speech as well as religious expression, but at least it shows that France is concerned about protecting its culture and values.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    there was an interesting article today in the boston globe by canadian journalist Irshad Manji. her basic argument is that it’s time for islam to wake up and deal with its radical elements.

    she wrote a book about it called “The Trouble With Islam: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith”

  • Eric Olsen

    Thanks Mark, Manji’s actions are exactly what is needed from within Islam – ultimately change cannot be imposed from without.

  • Shark

    Islam needs a major “Reformation” to succeed in the 21st century. Manji’s book is a good, brave start, but one wonders how long she’ll live— given that radical Islam sees murder and assasination as a religious obligation.

    Sadly, I think the entire history of the 21st century is going to be a struggle between radical Islam and the liberal ideals of the ‘heathens’.

    Future Bumper Sticker: “Where’s Bohemond when ya need him?”

  • http://www.kalyr.com/weblog Tim Hall

    Most of the muslims in Europe are first or second generation immigrants, and like many immigrant communities throughout history retain a lot of cultural practices from their original homelands. Many of these, such as the barbaric practice of female circumcision, are not core parts of Islam.

    Just as has happened with previous waves of immigrants, the third and fourth generations are likely to grow up far more westernised, as a lot of the more backward cultural memes disappear. I believe the form of westernised Islam we’ll see in 50 years time won’t look much like that of present day Pakistan or north Africa.

    The issue of how much immigrant communities should be required to assimilate, and what’s the best way to encourage them to do so is still an open question. Unfortunately it’s something people are reluctant to discuss for fear of encouraging the white supremacist right.

    I’m afraid to say that the rantings of the likes of Mark Steyn just sound far too similar to the things you’d hear from a tattooed skinhead BNP supporter. I don’t think such rants are a positive contribution to any debate.

  • Eric Olsen

    Shark, I agree entirely – however you feel about the current administration, this is what the war on terror is about and why I say it is a fundamentally (small “l”) liberal endeavor, as do Hitchens, Fallaci and Berman.

    Tim, good point and I basically agree that time will take care of these things, but one hell of a lot of bad things can happen in 50 years. I think insisting upon a basic democratic, separation-of-church-and-state, level of assimilation upon emigrating to any Western country would be very helpful: “keep your religion with our blessings, adopt our civic values.”

  • http://www.blogbloke.com BB

    Eric, what was that old adage? Ah yes, when in Rome…

    Time to join the 21st century.