Europeans and the British seem incapable of learning from their own history. In the last century, they stumbled into World War I and then declared it “the war to end all wars” until, of course, they discovered appeasing Nazi Germany only led to World War II. Until recently, they have been reluctant to admit that the worldwide Islamic Jihad included them.
Jul 28, 2005
In the years following WWII and the divestiture of former colonies, the population of Muslim immigrants from northern Africa and the Middle East began to grow. Typically, they tended to resist assimilation. This resulted in high rates of unemployment and discontent with their host countries.
The French took the tack that you’re welcome to come here, but you had better become more French than whatever former nationality you had. In 2004 France passed a law forbidding the wearing of the Muslim headscarf, the hijab, in educational institutions. Muslim leaders said this was tantamount to a war on Islam. It will surprise many to learn that Islam is the second largest religion in France. However, the native French are proud of their national heritage and the result has been harsh laws and procedures aimed at Muslim troublemakers that make our USA Patriot Act look tame.
Following World War II, the reward the British received for granting independence to its former colonies was a wholesale invasion. Unlike the French who created a top-secret counterterrorism center, code-named Alliance Base, the British decided that letting the radical Islamists say and do whatever they wanted would establish an unspoken rule that blowing up Brits was bad form. They learned differently on July 7.
It’s not like Europeans didn’t know they had a problem, but they were busy creating and, of late, rejecting the European Union. This year, the French and Dutch both refused to ratify its constitution and the British put off any vote. However, the EU isn’t the only game in town. The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 and is the continent’s oldest political organization, bringing together 46 nations, including 21 from Central and Eastern Europe. It has its headquarters in Strasbourg, in northeastern France.
The aim of the Council was to insure post-war Western Europe did not become Communist. It functioned primarily as a human rights watchdog and, since 1989, has paid close attention to Europe’s new post-communist democracies. In 1993, it held a summit to insure democratic security and, in October 1997, it reaffirmed its devotion to democratic values and “cultural diversity.”
Unfortunately, the British embrace of “cultural diversity” proved to be the fuse on the time bombs that went off in London. To a true Muslim, cultural diversity is anathema. One is either a Muslim or an infidel, an unbeliever. The lives of unbelievers count for nothing.
As we have seen, even among themselves being Muslim is no guarantor of tolerance. In simple terms, Sunnis don’t like Shiites. Killing each other, including blowing up each other’s mosques is no big deal. Why should Europeans have been surprised when they brought these bad attitudes with them?
But they were surprised. In 2002, Pim Fortuyn, a maverick Dutch politician, was murdered for warning against the Muslim immigrants whose views, not surprisingly, were contrary to Dutch traditions. Then in November 2004 a Muslim radical assassinated Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh. “The jihad has come to the Netherlands”, said one Dutch parliamentary leader. For twenty years the Dutch had welcomed growing numbers of Muslim immigrants, including known radicals. It’s going to be harder for Muslims to immigrate to the Netherlands and one suspects this will prove true throughout much of Europe.
Germany is home to 3.5 million Muslims, three times more than the Netherlands, but so far they have been spared terrorism because most are from Turkey (2.6 million) or Bosnia (170,000) where a more moderate form of Islam is practiced. The Germans, however, are not indifferent to the threat. Germany requires all immigrants take language classes and is quick to expel anyone suspected of Islamic radicalism.
Germany, like England, has been a convenient transit point for the planning of terrorist attacks, the movement of funds to finance them, and, of course, the “martyrs” who can’t wait to blow themselves up in order to convince people they should not support the US or British military in the Middle East.
If Europe has been asleep, it took 9-11 to wake up Americans. The difference between the US and Europe is that we put troops into the field in Afghanistan as fast as we could to kill as many Taliban as we could. Then we invaded Iraq so we could establish a military base from which we could strike at any other Middle Eastern nation that thought 9-11 was a good idea. Most, with the exception of Iran, have gotten the message.
Even the US has been reluctant to conclude a holy war was occurring. While we might not have been at war with Islam, Islam was most assuredly at war with us. And that includes the Europeans and just about anybody else on the face of the Earth who does not want to convert to Islam.
One good thing to come out of all this bloodshed is a growing unity of purpose and sharing of information between Europeans, the British, and the United States that will improve whatever efforts it takes to end the Islamic jihad. Another good thing will be less criticism of the American approach to terrorists, i.e., find them and kill them before they can kill us.
Alan Caruba writes a weekly commentary, “Warning Signs”, posted on the website of The National Anxiety Center, www.anxietycenter.com.
© Alan Caruba, July 2005
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