NY Times: More moderates recognize Islamic threat
BRUSSELS, Oct. 10 — Europe appears to be crossing an invisible line regarding its Muslim minorities: more people in the political mainstream are arguing that Islam cannot be reconciled with European values.
“You saw what happened with the pope,” said Patrick Gonman, 43, the owner of Raga, a funky wine bar in downtown Antwerp, 25 miles from here. “He said Islam is an aggressive religion. And the next day they kill a nun somewhere and make his point.
“Rationality is gone.”
Mr. Gonman is hardly an extremist. In fact, he organized a protest last week in which 20 bars and restaurants closed on the night when a far-right party with an anti-Muslim message held a rally nearby.
His worry is shared by centrists across Europe angry at terror attacks in the name of religion on a continent that has largely abandoned it, and disturbed that any criticism of Islam or Muslim immigration provokes threats of violence.
For years those who raised their voices were mostly on the far right. Now those normally seen as moderates — ordinary people as well as politicians — are asking whether once unquestioned values of tolerance and multiculturalism should have limits.
A person who attends a protest isn't necessarily a left-winger, but a person who organizes one probably is. Though this isn't a bad thing, particularly in the UK. While the party often labeled as far-right, verily the only major right-wing party, in the US is the Republican party, in the UK far-right party could refer to a number of radical groups. The UK permits far-right, violently racist political parties. Gonman's protest was likely against one of those, rather than the moderate groups on both sides we're used to in the US.
But I digress. A person such as Patrick Gonman, who protests against (likely) racist political parties in the UK, is now acknowledging the fact of Islamic extremism. Kudos to you for that, no matter what your political affiliation.
In Austria this month, right-wing parties also polled well, on a campaign promise that had rarely been made openly: that Austria should start to deport its immigrants. Vlaams Belang, too, has suggested “repatriation” for immigrants who do not made greater efforts to integrate.I support it! Deportation of immigrants who don't conform to the standards of civilized society is perfect. The UK, the US, and the rest of the non-Muslim world should consider Austria's proposal. Multi-culturalism can be a good thing, but only when the multitude of cultures can co-exist peacefully. If two cultures violently clash, history has taught us one will inevitably be destroyed or the two will be separated. Fundamentalist Muslims in the United States are like Klansmen in a synagogue. They will clash and one side will lose.
If there is such a thing as moderate Islam then Muslims should be able to integrate into any Western country. Then again, if Islam is inherently violent and there is no such thing as moderate Islam, like Muslim psychologist Wafa Sultan has stated, then devout Muslims will never have a peaceful place in Western society.
Dyab Abou Jahjah, a Lebanese-born activist here in Belgium, said that for years Europeans had emphasized “citizenship and human rights,” the notion that Muslim immigrants had the responsibility to obey the law but could otherwise live with their traditions.
“Then someone comes and says it’s different than that,” said Mr. Jahjah, who opposes assimilation. “You have to dump your culture and religion. It’s a different deal now.”
Lianne Duinberke, 34, who works at a market in the racially mixed northern section of Antwerp, said: “Before I was very eager to tell people I was married to a Muslim. Now I hesitate.” She has been with her husband, a Tunisian, for 12 years, and they have three children.
Many Europeans, she said, have not been accepting of Muslims, especially since 9/11. On the other hand, she said, Muslims truly are different culturally: No amount of explanation about free speech could convince her husband that the publication of cartoons lampooning Muhammad in a Danish newspaper was in any way justified.
So can Muslims live with their traditions in Europe as Mr. Jahjah stated? This depends on the tradition. If Mr. Jahjah's idea of Muslim tradition stops short of violence and intolerance, they can. If Muslim traditions consist of female genital mutilation, ritual honor killings, anti-Semitic violence, and the objectification of women (and Muslim traditions do), then no. European civilization should not tolerate those traditions.
And when Muslims are unable to reconcile their traditions with Western values, such as the case of Lianne Duinberke's Muslim husband, when they are unable to accept that Western society encourages ultimate free speech (even if it means mocking Muhammad), then they need to get out.