Last week, before the despicable attack on the editors and cartoonists at the satirical French publication Charlie Hebdo, NBC News had a short blip on their nightly news about a cathedral in Cologne, Germany that had turned off their lights to protest the recent anti-Islam protests taking place in that city. I assume this is akin to the lights being turned off on the Empire State Building to honor some fallen official.
Since those attacks, CNN has relentlessly run stories about the greatest fear in France and Europe right now. That fear is not another attack of this nature or the fact that European Muslims are flocking to the ISIL cause like geese heading south in winter. No- the biggest fear is that there will be a backlash against Muslims in Europe. Some well-respected journalism outlets have claimed that any time these attacks happen, there is some serious soul searching by the country affected.
For example, in July 2005 four bombers killed 52 people in central London. Before that, a Pew Research poll of Europeans found that only 26% of British citizens had an unfavorable view of Islam. After the attack, that percentage went up only slightly, but then drifted back to the 26%. The British congratulated themselves for their tolerance. In fact, subsequent soul searching led to the startling discovery that British society had severely neglected its Muslim population and that is what led four nut jobs to launch a terrorist attack. Britain adopted a policy of “multiculturalism” which allows these Muslim minority communities to develop separately from the remainder of society.
France took an opposite approach- secularism- which ignores things like race and religion in favor of national unity. This led to actions like banning face veils in public, an action that enraged Muslim leaders the world over and even elicited a rebuke from Obama himself. There are over 6 million Muslims in France- by far their largest minority and larger than any other Muslim population in any other European country. As a result, every large city in France has Muslim-dominated areas where there is severe deprivation and high crime. These are the areas where the French powers that be- the government- simply do not go. Combine this crime and deprivation with social media, satellite television and the Internet and you have the perfect brew for radicalization.
However, Europe and their open immigration systems are partly responsible for the problems they are now facing. That is one half of the equation and the growing Muslim populations in European countries are another bigger part of the problem. Their inability or refusal to assimilate into their adopted home country’s culture and society can be laid solely at the feet of Muslims. In effect, there is greater loyalty to their Muslim community than there is to be being British, or French, or Dutch, or Swedish…
Even though after the London terror attacks where Great Britain seemed to blame Great Britain more than radicalized Muslims for the attacks, those figures from the Pew poll are startling. In the name of “tolerance,” they soul searched and self-flagellated. Those same Pew polls show that British Muslims are most hostile to western values than their counterparts in any other European country. The reasons are simple: Islam has absolutely no concept of democracy, or free speech, or even religious toleration. While we in the West beat ourselves up over these concepts of tolerance, the most intolerant religion on earth takes advantage and commits terrorist acts.
Things have gotten so bad in Europe with Islam that several countries are taking some extreme measures. Switzerland has banned the building of minarets on mosques while Belgium and Spain have banned the wearing of burqas in public. Norway is taking the lead in banning sharia courts. Why they even exist in a democratic country further begs the question. In Holland, the Freedom Party of Gert Wilders recently gained seats in their government. Meanwhile, Gert Wilders has been prosecuted under Dutch law for inciting hatred against Muslims, Islam and the Mohammed.
What has toleration gotten Europe? Scores of Islamic terrorist plots have been thwarted by European intelligence and police forces while Spain, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Holland and Great Britain have seen people killed in the name of Mohammed. This attack was presaged by one at the Jewish Museum in Brussels last year that appeared coordinated, much like the most recent attack in Paris. In Germany, the government is more scared of the protests against Islam’s growing strength than they are of the possibility of a terror attack on their soil. Germany is particularly sensitive to how they treat religious minorities. In fact, the rising movement against Islam in Germany is often likened to that of the Nazis before Hitler embarked on a system of genocide. There are two major differences here: (1) no such genocide would ever go unnoticed or not addressed in today’s Internet age and, more importantly, (2) Jews did not go around shooting cartoonists or planting bombs on subways or trains.
And the United States is not immune. Some of the most lethal killers in ISIL, for example, are European. The great beheader-in-chief apparently hails from London. There are more European fighters in Syria and Iraq than there are Americans. Most of these are second-generation Europeans, the descendants of immigrants from Muslim countries who were welcomed in to shore up the bustling post-World War II economies. The problem for the US is that these “European citizens” can enter this country without a visa.
Europe is, in effect, a hatchery for Islamic radical terrorists because of their open immigration policies and their multicultural programs of tolerance and guilt over something that happened at the hands of a madman almost a century ago. That’s fine, but when they move and strike outside the hatchery, then it becomes our problem in a big way. The Visa Waiver Program- a worthwhile program- should be reformed with better background checks and an adherence to the old maxim “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Most importantly, both Europe and the United States has to awaken to the fact that even non-fundamentalist Islam has little in common with western ideals. The Muslim immigrants to Europe and the Muslim population there now must make a decision to assimilate into their adopted society. They came or live there; the country did not come to them. Europe should not become “Islamicized;” the Muslims of Europe must be “Europeanized.”