By Vexen Crabtree 2011
In 2004, Cesari summarized the demographic situation:
“Muslims are the largest religious minority in Western Europe. Today there are more than 11/12 million Muslims living in the major countries of the European Union, and Muslims constitute almost 3 percent of the total population in Europe.
Five countries stand out in particular for the high number of Muslims who call them home: France, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Greece. In each of these countries, anywhere from 4 to 7 percent of the current population is Muslim. [...] In Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, Muslims constitute about 1 percent of the total population. [...]
The ethnic diversity of European Muslims is striking. Arabs constitute the most numerous ethnic group, with some 3.5 million, 45 percent of whom are of Moroccan origin, living in Western Europe. The second largest ethnic group is Turkish, with more than 2.5 million individuals scattered throughout Europe. The third largest group, with more than 800,000 people, is immigrants from the Indian subcontinent: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. [...]
Many Muslims observe their religion and live their lives with no intent to either support or oppose fundamentalist extremism. Some critics proclaim that because mainstream Muslims fail to act against extremists, it allows extremists to prosper. But many active Christians are the same: they may well disagree with the actions of their fellows during the crusades, they neither support USA Christian fundamentalism but nor do they do anything about it and, they are also (I'm sure) disgusted by the sexual abuse of children by priests, and its cover-up by their own Churches. It is Human nature just to want to get on in life, in peace. But we rarely hear the popular press berate them for failing to stand up to horrible people in their own ranks. The opposition of the ordinary lay person is rarely recorded on the news, and rarely published. Muslims are in the same boat: extremists are always louder than the mainstream. The last census showed 1.5 million Muslims in Britain, and they make up 6% of the EU: it is clear that most of these are part of a peaceful and quite undramatic ethnic culture within the West.
After the Sep 2011 terrorist attacks on the USA:
“Some people continue to ask why Muslims did not denounce the terrorist attacks when in fact they did. In statement after statement, the attacks were condemned by such groups as the American Muslim Alliance, the American Muslim Council, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Shari'a Scholars Association of North America, and many more. [And the author states in the introductory chapter that these denouncements were "instant" after the event.]
Certainly, there are Muslims who do [support terrorism and violence against civilians], but they are not in the mainstream of the tradition and do not represent Islam any more than the Ku Klux Klan represents Christianity.”
Many Muslims do not heed the Qur'anic verses urging them to prepare for war against unbelievers (Qur'an 8:60), nor the verses telling them to increase their strength so that they can convert or subjugate those around them. Authors such as Robert Spencer argue, with excessive use of quotations from the Qur'an, that such peaceful Muslims are (fortunately) not truly following their religion. Yet, the Christian Bible endorses slavery, female subjugation to males, deadly violence against pagans, and invects against homosexuals: thankfully most Christians also ignore it all. It is good that many in the world do not adhere to the ancient and barbaric exhortations of their holy books. Most Muslims merely want, like everyone else, to live their lives in peace, with their friends, to raise families and win stable employment.
Some moderates do indeed vocally and openly oppose extremists. Mr Manzoor witnessed two political candidates handing out leaflets outside a mosque, when two men started shouting loudly at them, telling other Muslims to ignore them as the election campaign was "against Islam". "So far, so predictable. But what happened next was not. The two men were shouted down by the others: 200 Muslims who to an outsider would have looked exactly like the two extremists".3. News outlets frequently publish opinion pieces and shocked reports based on the views of a few extremists, which worries everyone. But rarely do those two hundred moderate folk find themselves exposed on the news.
Sometimes, the efforts of Muslim liberals actually seem unrealistic even by outsiders' standards. Mattson (2003) states that "a few American-Muslim leaders have tried to make the point that American political concepts are 'authentic' to Islam because the USA allows Muslims to practise and propagate their religion freely"4. Although their motives are good, their arguments are theologically weak and unconvincing.
Such normal people are however under pressure. A sense of all-round disharmony between civil Muslims and suspicious Westerners puts them in a difficult position, which can only be made worse by incidents of anti-Muslim xenophobia and racism.
“The disadvantaged position of Muslim minorities, evidence of a rise in Islamophobia and concern over processes of alienation and radicalisation have triggered an intense debate in the European Union regarding the need for re-examining community cohesion and integration policies. A series of events such as the September 11 terrorist attacks against the US, the murder of Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands, the Madrid and London bombings and the debate on the Prophet Mohammad cartoons have given further prominence to the situation of Muslim communities.”
"Muslims in the European Union: Discrimination and Islamophobia" by EUMC (2006)5
Islamophobic attitudes retard the process of integration.
Europe, like the USA, has always had high immigration. In history we have seen armies and invading cultures spread across the continent from place to place almost continuously, with very few cultures or peoples remaining undisturbed for very long. UK popular culture has been decimated by Americanisation; our foods, goods and lifestyles are almost completely unrelated to the historic practices of older Britons. In other words, in history, European cultures have assimilated other cultures in a constant process of globalisation. It has been successful - we know this, because almost everyone assumes that most of what they do is traditional nationalist behaviour. When it comes to the nitty-gritty, it is pragmatism that wins the day:
“The historic cities of Europe, which are far older than most nation states, retain a remarkable ability to absorb newcomers and accommodate many different kinds of social reality. The practical problems posed by co-existence between faiths and cultures - from swimming-pool regulations to the slaughter of animals to headgear in municipal premises - can often be handled in practical ways through a healthy process of local bargaining. Issues like land use, burial, hygiene, food safety and noise simply have to be managed locally for cities to function at all.”
But such things always needs oversight; national human rights should be made clear and absolute so that local practices don't start backpeddling on the rights of those who cannot look after themselves, etc. The ratchet of progress can all too easily break apart and allow ghettos, mass ignorance, mass illiteracy and other evils erode the humanity of our advanced species.
So it comes that many are worried about the status of Islam, the growing depth of Muslim minorities, who are often the aggressors rather than the victims.
All religions are protected in the UK under law, so that discrimination is illegal. This also covers the concept of 'reasonable accommodation'; if Muslims have a religious requirement that can be practically met by a company (such as wanting to meet prayer times), then the company can fall foul of the law if it is does not make a reasonable attempt to accommodate the request. "In clashes over the issue of daily prayers and the workday, most court cases have decided in Muslims' favor"7. The following is an excerpt from "Legislation and Faith: Religious Rights and Religious Wrongs" by Vexen Crabtree (2013):
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations), article 18, and the EU's Charter of Human Rights (article 9) state that everyone has freedom of religion and belief. This means you can't punish people for apostasy or heresy or any other element of thought crime. CHR article 9 gives the exception that rights can be curbed for the protection of the fundamental rights of others. On human rights and religion, European Law is most clear when it comes to the employer/employee relationship (which also covers public services):
“The Employment Equality Directive introduced in 2000 requires all Member States to protect against discrimination on grounds of religion and belief in employment, occupation and vocational training. [...] The complexity of [it] comes from the fact that while Europe is committed to upholding religious freedom, it is equally committed to equality and other fundamental freedoms. At times these rights are complementary, [but] in other respects, the rights are in tension, with religious groups failing to recognise equality rights or the right of those outside the religious group.”
European Commission (2006)8
A second complication is to do with what is called reasonable accommodation. This means: if a worker makes a specific request to hir employer that has something to do with hir beliefs, hir employer has to consider it. A denial must, if it is to be legal, be for clear practical purposes and not merely theoretical ones. So an employer cannot reason that "if loads of Sikhs joined my company, how could I continue to operate if I let them have this?", as this is a theoretical problem. It would be a real problem if specific persons on the roster would be made unhappy at the granting of a specific request.
“Employees whose requests that a work uniform be adapted to accommodate religious practice are refused would suffer indirect discrimination. The employer's requirement that staff wear the uniform would put religious members of staff at a particular disadvantage, and the requirement would need to be justified.”
European Commission (2006)
UK Law: Beliefs are probably only defensible under the Employment Equality Directive in the UK, if they have a certain level of "cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance"9. Thus, it is the case that the person making the complaint of discrimination must prove their level of commitment to their beliefs, and the employer must prove why he cannot accommodate the specific request. The exact details of how such cases will be worked out is not yet clear.
In the first section of Part 2 of the Equality Act 2006, section 44 states in very clear terms that non-belief is protected in the same way as belief, and that the non-religious are protected in the same way that religionists are.
This legal protection has certain limits: All behaviour must fall within the confines of the law. Human rights must be respected, so, it is illegal for people to discriminate against women and homosexuals, even if they do so because of their Islamic beliefs. This is because in the West, religions and people are treated fairly and morally. You can't suspend human rights just because one group wants to discriminate against another. It is this emphasis on human rights and equality that causes most conflicts between Muslims and Western society (I give examples later).
This section is taken from "Faith Schools, Sectarian Education and Segregation: Divisive Religious Behavior (UK Case Study)" by Vexen Crabtree (2010)
There are over 100 Muslim faith schools in the UK, over ten of them are state-run. It is these that make the news most often. But there are also schools that are secular in name, but have whom attracted a great many Muslims, such as Palfrey Junior state school, which has 360 pupils. 98% of its pupils are Muslim, and the schools runs as a Muslim faith school even though it is not. "A legal requirement for 'mainly Christian' worship is met with generic 'songs to God'. Swimming is segregated by sex; at the request of Muslim parents, there is no sex education and all food is halal. During Ramadan, pupils who fast are kept indoors in case they become dehydrated. [...] Some women teachers wear a niqab, concealing their face, in the street; in school, only their hair is covered with a scarf".10. In other words, there is pressure at this school to present yourself as more Islamic, more traditional, and even the teachers comply. The pressure on children must be great, too, and this all at a school that is not officially Islamic.
Islamic education in the West today is woefully inadequate. A "parallel" schooling system is one in which Muslim schools educate Muslim children in all the same subjects as public schools, but, in a Muslim environment and with extra Islam-specific lessons. Tariq Ramadan, a Muslim and religious studies academic, argues against these in Western Muslims and the Future of Islam11. His criticisms of parallel schooling include arguments that (a) parallel Muslim schools take in only a very small percentage of Muslim children partially due to their expense and their limited offer of scholarships, and that most Muslim communities do not have the resources or finances to fund Muslim schools, (b) that their raison d'être is flawed, offering not only education but a 'parallel reality' and a sectarian existence outside of the communities of the host culture, and (c) that in reality many of the teaching staff are not qualified or experienced in either secular or Qur´anic disciplines. Ramadan goes to lengths to explain how separating Muslim children from the general population causes fear and discomfort with regards to how their Muslim identity sits with society at large: "The result is that "artificially Islamic" closed spaces are created in the West that are almost completely cut off from the surrounding society"12. At the very least, secular teachers need to be brought in to teach non-Islamic subjects in an impartial manner.
There is much evidence and strong arguments from sociologists and psychologists that all-inclusive mixed schools are good for social integration and peace, but that sectarian schools breed intolerance and social division:
“In 2001 there were 7000 state faith schools in England (of 25000). The worst teach creationism/intelligent design and some, although they excel at religious education and Koranic studies, fail on everything else from science to fitness. Faith schools on the whole take in far fewer poor pupils and fewer of those with special education needs than do non-religious all-inclusive schools. Conversely, faith schools tend to select better-educated and more well-off pupils. Reports on the race riots of 2001 criticized faith schools for creating the segregation that increases racial and religious sectarian tensions. Over 800 studies by social psychologists have found that cooperating and extended contact between racial groups is a very good way of producing positive race relations. Faith schools sometimes produce better-than-average results, but they also select students based on ability (despite attempts to stop that), whereas state schools accept poorer students in the first place. The Home Office, National Union of Teachers, Chief Schools Inspector, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers have all spoken out against faith schools. The United Nations Human Rights Commission and the European Union's Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia both recommend non-sectarian education, especially of children, as a means to reduce intolerance. The National Secular Society has long campaigned for the government to reverse the creation of faith schools (100 new ones since 1997), and instead convert faith schools back into all-inclusive secular schools where religion and race do not define the children. Abolishing faith schools will decrease social tension between ethnic and religious groups, increase the fairness of the schools system (as religious schools accept fewer poor and disadvantaged students), and reduce the scope for religious extremism and indoctrination.”
There are no Muslim nations where the State and Islam are not thoroughly tied up with one-another13. Islam requires flatly that Muslims should not submit to non-Muslims. Therefore Western Muslims are, for practical purposes, living a more secular life than Muslims in Muslim countries. The scholar of Islam, Jocelyne Cesari, holds that there are three types of resultant Muslim. (1) 'Emotional' ones have their identities forged through the reactions of wider society14 (reactionary types). (2) Cultural Muslims continue with many practices without heeding their religious meanings (in the same way that many atheist parents still get their children baptized). And, (3) Ethical Islam applies all the Islamic rules pertaining to Muslim community. It is probably obvious that it is the ethical branch where conflicts with wider society are most deliberate and protracted. We can see that, according to Cesari, many Muslims are secular in the same way that you get secular Jews and non-religious Christians: "It is the more personal forms of Islam - emotional, cultural and ethical - that dominate. Indeed, for the often silent majority of Muslims in Europe and America, identification with Islam and Islamic tradition does not necessarily entail a corresponding religious observance"15. Likewise, the EU Monitoring Centre notes that "a variety of Muslim organisations exists in all Members States, but many Muslims, particularly those with a more secular outlook, are not involved in them"16.
Many Western Muslims are shaven, and wear Western clothes. Just like with Christians in the modern countries, the disassociation between Western Muslims and their religion is greater amongst the more educated. All of this sounds like the "believing but not belonging" that afflicts established Western religions such as Christianity [Grace Davie (1997)] and Judaism17.
This seems quite prosaic and expected; the process of secularisation amongst Muslims looks more or less similar to that amongst Christians in Europe; it is merely running more slowly due to the constant immigration of more conscientious Muslims from abroad. Others see this as a Trojan horse. Robert Spencer, the fiery anti-Islamic author, has specifically targeted Cesari in his Jihad Watch, accusing her of apologetics and claiming that there is no deep secularisation amongst Muslims in the West. In books such as "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam" (2005) he states that civil-seeming Muslim communities merely lack strong leadership and knowledge of Qur´anic Arabic. He warns that increasing numbers of Muslims will lead to increased awareness of Islamic doctrine, which will result in the loss of the secular-appearing-docility of Islamic communities.
There are many aspects of Sharia that the West cannot legislate for. For example, many of the statements of Islamic Law on divorce, marriage, repudiations and inheritance treat women unfairly and inequally. In Islam, for each part of an inheritance given to a daughter, two parts must be given to a son18. This cannot be law in the West, as it is against the moral values of equality where by default, all siblings are treated equally regardless of gender. Despite this, people are free to make their own wills and grant assets to whoever they want. So the simple way around this is to voluntarily follow Sharia, and not rely on the State to enforce it. Those who do not wish to follow Sharia, therefore, cannot be forced to do so by law (which in a free world, is what you would expect). This gives maximum freedom, and it is indeed the way things are in the West. This is the case with many of the 'conflicts' between Sharia and the law. Another example is the period of widowhood: In Islamic law, there is a time limit on how quickly you can remarry. Muslims are completely free to adhere to this, as long as they stick to their own beliefs. Some suspect that the real issue is that male Islamic judges have no legal power to prevent women from remarrying. In the West, this protects the legal rights of women, but if women wish to follow these rules they still can. This is freedom of religion: you can't force people to follow religious rules that they don't want to follow but you can voluntarily follow your own religion, as long as you don't infringe on the rights of other people. Ergo, there is little requirement for the creation of Islam-specific laws by the State.
See: "Growing Fundamentalism in Islam: How Moderates are Subjugated by Muslim Hardliners" by Vexen Crabtree (2013) for more on how moderate Muslims and their communities are under pressure from hardliners.
In "When Islam and Democracy Meet" by Jocelyne Cesari (2004), Cesari devotes a few chapters to tracing the ties between Western Muslims and the Islamic institutions of the Near East. National outreach-churches from the Muslim world have much influence both directly and indirectly, so that they affect the lives of even the (partially-)secular Muslims of Europe19. Many such organisations are unpleasant and teach fundamentalist and ultra-conservative doctrine. It is difficult to learn Qur'anic Arabic in Western countries due to the lack of established institutions so all teachers who command authority and respect are foreign-trained. Western moderates are almost completely "unable to command much support in the Muslim Middle East"20 and only the most enthusiastic Islamists tend to emerge as knowledgeable Islamic preachers and community leaders in the West21. These people must go abroad for the best training in Islamic scripture, or, attend some of the Mosques and projects that are funded by outreach churches from Saudi Arabia and other places. The result is that the best-trained are also those who suffer from the longest and most intense exposure to extremist ideas. The situation is unstable with integrating and secularizing forces on the one hand, and the influence of powerful and Islamic institutions in the East, on the other. Manuel Valls MP warns that the lack of state funding for Muslim institutions in France leads to increased susceptibility to influence from rich and zealous churches from countries such as Saudi Arabia22. Tariq Ramadan, a more comprehensive scholar of Islamic thought, writes a similar account23. Both authors conclude that it is the lack of a Western center of Islam that makes it necessary for Muslims to study abroad, and Ramadan asserts strongly that an independent Western Islam must emerge in order to solve problems associated with radicalization.
Islamic Law institutionalizes many forms of prejudice, bias, inequality and intolerance that are not acceptable in the West. Equality of gender is not recognized as there are many curbs on female behaviour that are not warranted in a free world, and which cause intense social pressure and even violence when they are violated. This results in a constant atmosphere of oppression, which, if women are brought up in, they will perceive as a norm, when in fact it is not, and should not, be. Islamic Law stipulates many punishments and consequences of deconversion from Islam (apostasy) and outright outlaws non-Islamic proselytisation, which goes against all ideas of freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience. Marriages, property ownership and many other social relations are annulled upon deconversion from Islam. Also, the penalties for heretical beliefs are just as severe, and the pronouncements of Islamic authorities against so-called heretics causes suppression in the same way that similar Christian pronouncements did during the Dark Ages. In the West, thought crime is not a crime, and there can be no legal punishments based on belief. Where such discrimination is apparent, it falls foul of human rights law. People can voluntarily follow religious codes, but discrimination based on gender and religious beliefs is illegal. A third area of protection is sexuality. Human Beings are largely not free to choose their sexuality, and discrimination based on it is illegal. Muslim communities are particularly prone to violent homophobia, and Governments must ensure that the law is applied even in Islamic communities. Aside from areas of Islamic Law, there are many practices tied with Islamic cultures that are not acceptable in the West; this includes female genital mutilation (FGM, or female 'circumcision'), denying children education, and, frequently, inhumane slaughtering of animals according to strict Islamic law is deemed needlessly cruel. The Christian holy book also contains many of these exact same prejudices, but, in practice these are not applied in the West for the same reasons that Muslims cannot apply all elements of Sharia: It goes against the Human Rights and fundamental freedoms that are granted to all people living in the free world.
Cesari says that "in most cases, the law of the country is formally followed; meanwhile, an informal respect is paid to Islamic law, from marriage contracts and divorce to the custody of children"24. This may generally be true for many individuals, but there are also many instances where illegal practices are put into place in a conscious, organised, secretive and wilful way by those who consider their religion to be above the moral laws of their host country.
In 2012, a pair of female journalists in Sweden visited 10 of Sweden's largest mosques and asked for advice on issues surrounding abuse from husbands and non-consensual sex. The conversations were secretly filmed and recorded. Six out of the ten mosques said that the women should agree to sex with their husbands even if they didn't want to. One imam said "don't refuse to give him love, because then he might change". Only 2/10 mosques "gave the women clear advice directing them to report their physically abusive husbands to police". 9/10 mosques wrongly told the women that men had the right to more than one wife - in Sweden, no-one has the right to more than one marital partner. Only one mosque told the women that her husband shouldn't have more than one wife because he should follow Swedish law.25
The frequency of Islamic terrorism attacks against targets in the West, and, against minorities and others in their own countries, is on such a scale that many consider the Arab world to be suffering from a kind of dark ages. The mass immorality and the failure of mainstream Muslims to control those doing violence in their name has led to constant worries that a generic cultural war between "them" and "us" is possible - a war that would tear apart globalized communities across the world.
It is hard to jump straight from 'believer' to violent extremist. But there is pressure all the way, and liberals and even outspoken mainstream Muslims are frequently terrorized into silence. For example, "An imam of an east London mosque has been subject to death threats and intimidation for expressing his views on evolution and women's right to refuse the veil". When 50 protestors entered his community, causing disruption, flyering, and calling for his execution. He - Dr Usama Hasan - was suspended from his role as teacher.
“The death threats against Hasan were made in an anonymous leaflet handed out by protesters. It quotes religious authorities saying that any Muslim who believes in evolution is an "apostate" who "must be executed".
Hasan says he believes the leaflets were produced by the website Islamic Awakening. The website's leader, Abu Zubair, has led a long campaign against Hasan including making threats when Hasan was delivering a lecture in January.
An online petition against Hasan has apparently attracted 1,100 signatories, although they are not listed publicly. The petition says they are "horrified" by his views on evolution and call for him to be removed before the mosque becomes a "hotbed of modernist extremism".”
There are too many worrying news stories about the heavy-handed antics of committed Muslims. The fundamentalists are the only organized form of Islam, and it is presently not possible for moderates to resist their aggression. The only solution is to make life as hard as possible for the aggressor, but, this is not an easy task, and it requires the peering into closed communities within minority communities. The final sections of this page examine possible solutions to problems like these.
Christopher Caldwell in "Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West" argues simply that Islam is a non-integrating religion, and that despite centuries of waiting, we are not going to see the emergence of a liberal-friendly, integrated Islam. Although in their review, The Economist criticize the author for selectivity and ignoring 'the multiples examples of upward mobility and successful integration' amongst some Muslims; but nonetheless they give the book a glowing review28. He isn't the only one sounding alarm bells, however:
“When Michael Nazzir-Ali, a Pakistani-born Anglican bishop, said some urban areas in Britain were becoming out of bounds for non-Muslims, he was denounced for alarmism. Perhaps it was unwise of him to blame just one religion for trying to mark out urban territory; in recent memory, one British city (Belfast) had no-go areas for people of the 'wrong' Christian sect.”
In Europe, the once-spectral power of Christianity is waning. Tolerant Christianity is by a long way the most common kind; everyone knows that although it resists, Christian institutions in the West have slowly come into line with the observation of human rights: The Inquisition can no longer happen. So although it is factually correct to compare Belfast to Muslim sectarianism and aggression, Christianity represents the fading threat, whereas Islam represents the growing one. So they need to be treated differently.
One horrendous cultural practice that is performed in Islamic countries as a result of the misogynistic teachings on female sexuality, and the dominance and fears of men, is female genital mutilation (FGM). The most prosaic authors call this "female circumcision" but it is has vastly different consequences to male circumcision.
“Perhaps the most barbaric and least publicized of [Islamic customs that conflict with the West] is female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice well-nigh universal in some Islamic cultures. [...] It usually involves total or partial removal of the prepuce and/or clitoris. The labia minora and majora may also be excised, and the vagina stitched up to the size of a pinhead. [...] In Europe it's frequently performed when the child is very young, because parents know they're doing something that's frowned on and, as they say, "a baby can't tell lies." The mutilation [...] often results in lifelong physical pain, chronic infections, and extreme discomfort during urination and sex. Parents give many reasons for the perpetuation of this brutal custom. At the top of the list is the conviction that women's sexual feelings are sinful and their sexual organs unclean, and that mutilation therefore provides protection from sin. [... It] takes places in nearly every country of Western Europe; Sweden, Norway, Britain, and France have even passed laws against it.
[... But] only in one department of France have serious measures - namely, mandatory medical exams - been instituted to prevent mutilations; but though they've proven spectacularly effective, no other jurisdiction in Europe has adopted similar procedures.”
"While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within"
Bruce Bawer (2006)29
Children are sometimes sent abroad to Muslim countries to have this done to them if none of the local Muslims can carry it out. In Europe only in one part of France are any measures in place to detect if infants or children have been made subject to this barbaric procedure, where mandatory medical exams have been very effective in preventing the occurrence30. Mostly there are no procedures in place to prevent this horrible and illegal activity from simply being done abroad. Some Muslims know that certain practices are not only illegal, but they must also know that they are morally reprehensible, yet continue to actively evade the law in order to continue observing them.
Some Islamic groups have become so exasperated with being unable to enforce their ideas of justice on others, such as women, that they have taken to outright and strategic lying. Civitas investigations found multiple instances of Islamic Faith Schools promoting anti-Western and sectarian material; even on their websites. Just before their report was fully published, the material was taken down from the sites. A newspaper article was still published entitled 'schools hurriedly take down damning website links'. The Civitas study, overseen by Dr Denis MacEoin, a former university lecturer in Islamic studies, contained much more:
“Some Islamic schools in Britain are promoting fundamentalist views and encouraging children to despise Western society, a report published today warns. It also claims that Ofsted inspectors are not properly scrutinising what goes on in Muslim schools because they are afraid of being branded racist if they issue critical reports.
An investigation by the Civitas social policy think-tank found websites of some of the UK's 166 Muslim schools are spreading extreme teachings, while a handful had links to sites promoting jihad, or 'holy' war. Many of the websites featured in the report were removed or edited hours before it was published.
Examples include web forums forbidding Muslims from reading Harry Potter books, playing chess or cricket and listening to Western music. The Civitas report, entitled Music, Chess and Other Sins, claims Ofsted inspectors are incapable of scrutinising Muslim faith schools properly, and demands an inquiry by MPs. [...]
Examples include the website of the Madani Girls' School in East London which stated: 'Our children are exposed to a culture that is in opposition with almost everything Islam stands for. If we oppose the lifestyle of the West then it does not seem sensible that the teachers and the system which represents that lifestyle should educate our children.'”
The deception was that many of these schools are applying for government money whereby they must also demonstrate that they are performing their part in community cohesion, and in the rapid removal of the material, which contradicts the face they show to Westerners. The BHA summarizes a Dispatches investigation (2011) that shows things have not changed in recent years:
“The documentary portrayed scenes taken by a hidden camera in an independent Islamic secondary school in Birmingham, including teachers present whilst a preacher made a variety of offensive remarks about non-Muslims. The school had been inspected by a Government approved inspectorate and commended for promoting tolerance of other beliefs.
Education Campaigns Officer Jenny Pennington commented: `It is very worrying that a school that has been given a clean bill of health in this area from inspectors can teach young children abhorrent, intolerant views about people of other religions and non-religious beliefs. The evidence presented by the documentary is especially concerning at a time when the Government is moving to give state funded schools much greater autonomy over their curriculum whilst actually proposing to reduce the scope of Ofsted inspections.'”
British Humanist Association newsletter (2011 Feb 21)
Aside from schools, other groups are more persistently sinister:
“We may mention one sectarian group, the Ahbash, which originated in Lebanon and has its European base in Switzerland (Lausanne), while being active in Europe, the United States, and Africa. Often calling themselves the "Islamic Benevolent Association," adherents carry on a permanent double discourse: to Western questioners, they claim to support the emancipation of women and laicism and to oppose "fundamentalists" (all the issues they know are sensitive and useful for getting them recognized).”
However, Ramadan reports, they have a completely different face that they present to Muslim communities: strict, cultish, with some weird beliefs even by Islamic standards. It is no surprise that extremists hide their true identities behind various organisations and practices and of course isn't a practice unique to Islamic extremists.
Sometimes it appears that communities are en masse engaged in strategic anti-Western practices. This begins to verge on the level of conspiracy-theory, but nonetheless there is governmental evidence to back it up. It is best that Bruce Bawer speaks for himself:
“Kheir Sajer, an Oslo Muslim who describes Islamism as a 'cancer' in his community, tells of an Oslo imam who has preached that Christians, under sharia law, must pay jizra, the protection tax demanded of all infidels living in Muslim lands: 'In Norway, they don't do this. Therefore the Muslims have a right to steal from them. If a Muslim walks straight into a store and steals, it is thus a legitimate act.' Other Oslo imams, says Sajer, agree. [...]
Many immigrants have been extremely successful at exploiting the generosity of Western welfare states [...] In Norway, the handouts come in a wide variety of forms - among them public assistance, unemployment benefits, relief payments, child benefits, disability, cash support, and rent allowance. One reason the Scandinavian welfare system has worked as well as it has is that most Scandinavians have been pretty good about not taking excessive advantage of it. [...] To a surprising extent, much of the social security apparatus functions on a sort of honour system: unless you require it, you don't ask for it.
“After the 2005 terrorist attacks on London, it emerged that the four suspects had raked in more than half a million pounds in welfare benefits from the British government.”
Alas, this is a different kind of honor than many immigrants are familiar with. Most come from poor villages in undeveloped countries with high levels of corruption - a background that tends to breed cynicism, duplicity, and an exceptional skill at manipulating the system. For people with such backgrounds, the goal is to grab everything one can get; only a fool would not take maximum advantage of the kind of bounty that Western Europe offers. Besides, many of them are told by their religious leaders that Muslim law gives them the right to abuse the infidels' system as much as possible - the right, in Kheir Sajer's words, to 'cheat and lie to the countries that harbour them.' They are told to view the benefits they receive as jizya. [...] In Denmark, Muslims make up 5 percent of the population but receive 40 percent of welfare outlays.”
"While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within"
Bruce Bawer (2006)33
Some state investigations have found large-scale and significant abuses of the system by entire extended families and portions of Muslim communities. Such immigrants often claim on behalf of family and relatives that are actually living in, say, Morocco, and who routinely lie about how many dependents they have.
are capable of adapting their cultural practices to their Western situations, but sometimes it seems that the West is complicit in undermining integration by putting into practices policies which encourage large-scale non-integration, with little or no oversight of the total effect:
“Traditionally, in Muslim countries, a new wife moves in with her husband's family - never the opposite. Among European Muslims this custom has been entirely overthrown. Nowadays, when a transnational marriage between Muslim cousins takes place, the spouse that migrates is invariably the non-European spouse, whose first residence after migrating is, as a rule, his or her in-laws' home. These marriages - which in Norway have acquired the name "fetching marriages" - accomplish two things. They enable more and more members of an extended Muslim family to emigrate to Europe and to enjoy Western prosperity. And they put the brakes on - or even reverse - whatever progress the European-born spouse might have made toward becoming Westernized.”
"While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within" by Bruce Bawer (2006)34
Strange as though it sounds, although some European countries have implemented new laws to curb strategic marriages, others actually make it easier for the system to be abused. Bawer continues:
“In many Western European countries, indeed, some laws are different for natives than for immigrants. For native Swedes, the minimum age for marriage is eighteen; for immigrants living in Sweden, there is no minimum. In Germany, an ethnic German who marries someone from outside the EU and wants to bring him or her to Germany must answer a long list of questions about the spouse's birth date, daily routine, and so forth in order to prove that the marriage is legitimate and not pro forma; such interviews are not required for German residents with, say, Turkish or Pakistani backgrounds, for it is assumed that their marriages have been arranged and that the spouses will therefore know little or nothing about each other.”
"While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within" by Bruce Bawer (2006)35
Not only is this reverse discrimination - whereby many immigrants are forced to follow stricter procedures than some (Muslim) others, but it also undermines Western ideas of morality, where marriage is a free enterprise with no element of compulsion. For these two reasons, such exemptions should be removed, and all people and all religions should be treated equally under law, as is the ideal in fair democracies.
“For a long time, many European officials saw intermarriage as the key to integration. They assumed that when the children of immigrants grew up, they'd marry ethnic Europeans and raise European children. [... But] levels of intermarriage and integration have remained exceedingly low - and ghettos are expanding. Why? The answer in two words: family reunification. Under the immigration laws of most Western European countries, if you're a citizen or permanent resident, your foreign spouse, children [, etc] may enter the country and live with you.”
"While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within"
Bruce Bawer (2006)36
By and large, at its most basic, this is a humanitarian gesture that you'd struggle to argue against. The unfortunate side to this occurs when growing populations of non-integrated foreigners use this provision en masse. In some circles, because parents want their child to be brought up with the beliefs that they themselves hold, a cycle can appear that is sometimes even intentional in nature:
“The parents of one Norwegian-born girl sent her back to their homeland at age three to attend Koran school. While they collected child benefits in Norway, she stayed at the school. Graduated at sixteen, she was married off at once. Just before having her first child, she returned to Norway - not knowing a word of Norwegian, and not having been educated in anything but the Koran - and brought her husband over through family reunification. Some months after giving birth, she contacted her Koran school to reserve a place for her child, who, like her, would be enrolled at age three. Far from being unique, this young woman exemplifies the ideal toward which many immigrant families strive in their effort to exploit European munificence while avoiding pollution by European culture.”
"While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within"
Bruce Bawer (2006)37
In many families, a strategy of non-integration and early arranged marriages to those in the homeland, prevents integration and facilitates a parabolic rate of immigration.
Denmark introduced a law preventing anyone from importing a wife from abroad if either of them were under 24 years old. The twist was that the rule was welcomed by young Muslims, whom it indirectly protected against forced marriages with foreign wives.
“Fogh Rasmussen kept his promise. His new government made significant changes in immigration and integration policy. [...] This so-called "twenty-four-year rule" grew out of the recognition that fetching marriages are almost invariably arranged, usually forced, and that most forced marriages involve young people in their teens or early twenties. The assumption behind the rule was that by the time a young person reaches age twenty-four, he or she is more capable or resisting parental pressure. [...]
The twenty-four rule has proven highly popular among many young Danish Muslims, who want to get an education first and then marry, eventually, for love. [... But] it also infringes upon the legitimate marriage rights of people under twenty-four who have chosen their own spouses. This is no minor drawback: Denmark is a small nation, and many young Danes study abroad. If they happen to fall in love while they're away, they can't bring their prospective spouses back with them if either is under twenty-four.”
"While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within"
Bruce Bawer (2006)38
A Belgian school find a similar side-effect when it banned the wearing of strict Islamic dress in school; many of the youngsters didn't want to dress like that but were pressurized into it. So the law against it increased their freedom! For the full story see "The Banning of Face Coverings such as the Niqab and Burqa in Europe: 4. Case Study: The Atheneum School of Belgium (2009)" by Vexen Crabtree (2017).
From Feb 2004 the Netherlands took a similar route: "imported spouses would have to be over twenty-one, and the spouse already residing in the Netherlands would have to fulfill an income requirement"39.
"Marriage: Its Diversity and Character" by Vexen Crabtree (2004) (discusses arranged marriages)
(This part was written in 2006 and at the moment, there are so many examples and cases that I do not know where to start in writing it all up!)
The failure to integrate is a moot point, if everyone lives in peace. But all is not well. Every Westerner can criticize ideas, smash taboos, question cultural norms and rebel. There may be disagreement and animosity between religious groups and anti-religious secularists, but in Western civil society these rarely amount to physical threats, violence or riots. Freedom of speech and criticism are Western values deriving from individualism and freedom, especially intellectual freedom. Western communities actively support these values and uphold them: They have formed the common ground that has enabled warring nations such as France and England, Germany and Europe, to learn to live in peace. No other culture has fostered peace as much as post-enlightenment Europe. These morals of the West are tried and tested. But Muslim communities are going against the flow: The riots, vandalism, threats and sulking over the Danish Muhammad cartoons is but one example of many. People are free to make fun of religion: Concepts are not people, and in the West, concepts and ideas are always scrutinized and questioned. That so many Muslims can parade and riot against our fundamental values, from inside our own countries, is a serious hint that things are capable of going wrong. As their numbers grow, will their demonstrations and threats continue to grow? It is a serious question, but a political career-killer for anyone who asks!
When Communism is questioned and challenged, communists do not rise up in violent riot and threaten to kill those who disagree. This is because Communists are civil.
When Christians have the roots of their religion questioned, and their Bible analysed in its historical context, they do not murder their antagonists or burn the books of those who disagree. This is because they value intellectual freedom and the right to live life in peace.
When atheists, democrats or any other Western ideal is challenged, there may be disagreement and argument but it doesn't result in death threats, authors having to go into hiding, artists being censored or armed assailants attacking the challengers. This is because in the West, morality is asserted above ideology: People's lives are worth more than ideas.
Denmark is a highly moral and developed nation; one of the best in the world, committed to helping poor nations and welfare. How is it that here, in the heart of Europe a large crowd of Muslims can cause fear and attempt to take us backwards into an era when religious superstition trumped free speech and intellectual exploration? Denmark isn't the first time.
In Holland in 2004, Theo van Gogh was murdered by a Muslim in Amsterdam for making a film that highlighted the role of Islam and the Qur'an in the oppression of women. He was shot and stabbed multiple times, had his throat slit and a note with verses from the Qur'an was left on his body. In the past, Theo van Gogh has also made films criticising and attacking Judaism and Christianity. Sometimes in bad taste, his films were nevertheless within the realms of free speech and artistic freedom. Both these things meant nothing to the Dutch Moroccan who killed him. It has been a very long time since Christians murdered blasphemers. Christianity is more moral, more developed and civil: It seems that many Muslims have yet to develop the maturity to differentiate between personal insult and intellectual criticism.
Denmark and the murder of Theo van Gogh in Holland are both echoes of a previous uproar: When Salman Rushdie published "The Satanic Verses" we were shocked by the riots, book-burning and shop vandalism that occurred in many Western countries onwards from 1989. There were demonstrations in London and Bradford, in Germany and France, bookstores burnt down in Italy and Britain. Embassies across the Middle-East were attacked, some were overrun by gunmen. A Muslim who opposed the death-threat against Rushdie was murdered in Belgium. Rushdie was forced to go into hiding. In a free country a fiction author was forced to go into hiding because he didn't restrict himself to using a traditional portrayal of a figure from someone else's religion! This is deeply wrong.40
“The book has been publicly burned by Moslem mobs in Britain, many booksellers and libraries have responded to threats of arson and personal attack by withdrawing the book, and some of these threats have now been put into practice. Thus, several bookshops have been seriously damaged by Moslem fire-raisers - including one shop in central London, Collet's, that was burnt out in spite of the fact that it had already, under pressure from its intimidated staff, withdrawn the book.
At the beginning of September, a bomb was thrown from a car at the famous West End store Liberty's, and four passers-by were injured. At that moment, a telephone message claiming responsibility for the incident was received by the police from an obscure Moslem group calling itself "Islamic Concern for Banning the Satanic Verses." Moslem leaders, while expressing regret that people have been injured, say it is the fault not of the Moslems but of Rushdie and his publishers and booksellers and the British government. [...]
The publisher, Penguin Books, owns nine retail bookshops in city centers around the country, and time bombs were planted outside four of these shops during the evening of September 13. A passerby, seeing a man lurking suspiciously in the dark doorway of the shop in York, alerted the local police, who were just in time to clear people from the vicinity, so that when the bomb exploded, causing damage to the building, there were no casualties. Meanwhile, the York police warned their colleagues in the localities of the other eight Penguin bookshops, thus enabling the other three bombs (in Nottingham, Peterborough, and Guildford) to be defused before they exploded.”
Years and years later, the topic of Salmon Rushdie's book still irks the Islamic Inquisition, and there are still calls for his death.
“Speaking in February 2005, Iranian leader Ali Khamenei had the following to say about the death sentence imposed sixteen years earlier by his predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini, against author Salman Rushdie for writing a work deemed insulting to Islam: "The day will finally come when the apostate Salman Rushdie will receive his due punishment for his disgraceful and slanderous move against the [Koran] and the Prophet".”
Note the trends: The Muslims claim 'victimization' when their beliefs are challenged, and state that it is 'the Government's' fault, and the fault of Rushdie himself. It is not his fault that religious superstition causes people to behave in such an irrational and intolerant manner, and no-one who accepts Western values or freedom could ever champion censorship over free speech.
“Under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, many non-Muslims have been arrested, tortured, and sentenced to die on the slimmest of evidence [of blasphemy]. But for such things to happen in Iran and Egypt, two countries where Islamic radicalism is widespread, is one thing: to have a "blasphemer" brutally murdered on the streets of Amsterdam in broad daylight is another. For thirty years, Europe has encouraged massive immigration from Muslim nations; Muslims now account for 5 percent of Holland's population, and that number is growing rapidly. But it is still largely taboo in Europe - as in America - to raise any questions about how ready that population is to accept Western pluralism. When Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn tried to raise some of those questions in 2002, he was vilified by the PC establishment as a right-wing racist. [He] was ultimately murdered by a Dutch assailant who 'did it for Dutch Muslims'”
Neil Kressel warns that "even in the West, when an author like Ibn Warraq wants to write a critical analysis of Islam from a secular humanist perspective, he must do so under a pseudonym"42. This kind of action is occurring in Europe over increasingly small-minded issues; it seems that Muslims no longer care to analyse criticism or defend their faith: They respond with outrage, claiming victimisation, to an extent of racism: The Qur'an contains clear, direct and specific anti-Christian verses, yet they do not censor the Qur'an. When Christians or atheists make anti-Islam statements, they rise in violence and aggression against authors and artists. The latest case is that of Robert Redeker in France, who has been forced into police-protected hiding after writing critical (but historical) comments describing Muhammad as "a merciless war leader"44. Muslims want to censor anti-Muslim comments, but they do not want to censor anti-Christian comments. This is intolerance, prejudice and hypocrisy. Western values allow all criticism to be voiced. Rejecting this fundamental right is to attempt to take Humanity back to a dark ages, where life is poor and cheap, and religious theocracy overrides morality.
Riots should not result from questioning religion, nor even from mocking it, and especially not from intellectual criticism of religious ideas and theories. That these things are occurring in the West, and all surrounded by mass Muslim protests and riots, is a clear call. It will get worse unless we change our attitude towards Muslims in the West.
“Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia have the most oppressive and violent attitude towards Jews of all countries45. Likewise in Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey the Muslim public have horribly negative opinions of Jews46. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"47. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males48. The report summarized country-by-country events, including large rallies against Jews by hundreds of Muslims chanting "kill the Jews", and no end of other incidents. Throughout the West, violent anti-Semitism is correlated with Muslim immigration. After a series of saddening attacks against Jews by Muslim terrorists throughout Europe in recent years, the chief Rabbi of Brussels stated "there is no future for Jews in Europe" (Huffington Post, 2016)49. Given the precarious position of the Jews that remain in Muslim countries and the violence they endure there, many observers see this problem only getting worse.50”
Two Western approaches to Muslim immigrants have evolved naturally. Although they are opposites, both have been destructive, the first one through inaction and the second through wrong action:
The Failure of Cultural Laissez-Faire: Allowing the unregulated growth of Muslim communities in Western cities has failed. As these numbers increase, riots, intolerance and cultural wars have grown. They are not accepting our values; the result of this will be increased violence, fear and conflict as long as we let the situation continue as it has been.
Alienation, Racism and Intolerance: When you alienate people, they care less about what you think. If a community feels victimized, it will react more aggressively and violently. This is nothing to do with Islam, and everything to do with Human nature. If you stigmatize a class of people as criminals, they will behave more criminally. This is basic sociology51. A backlash of racism, hatred and intolerance makes things much worse.
Most Western governments have stuck to the hands-off approach. Some civilian communities have taken to the racism reaction. What we are finally seeing is a little more direction and thought in Muslim-immigration policy. This has come to embody all immigration issues. The result of this deliberation has been some more reasonable approaches, although they have not quite materialized yet it seems they are rational.
Citizenship and Values Procedures: Immigrants have to sit some kind of test where they demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the values of the society they are entering. National language tests are being considered in Denmark52. This may be preceded by actual lessons.
Citizenship Schooling: The introduction of compulsory national curriculum elements that aim to teach children the values of the West.
Stricter Immigration: More rigorous screening of immigrants from large numbers of countries is already in place across many points of entry into Europe and the Americas. The implementation of anti-terrorism safeguards has been the impetus, and provided the most immediate and sensible screening procedures.
Limiting Arranged, Fetching Marriages whereby young adults are paired off with foreign women, who are then brought into Western countries via Family Reunification laws. Denmark's examples has worked excellently; fetching marriages are only possible if both partners are 24 years old or older. Young Muslims have reported this as a great relief as they can make their own choices in life. From Feb 2004 the Netherlands took a similar route: "imported spouses would have to be over twenty-one, and the spouse already residing in the Netherlands would have to fulfill an income requirement"
Clearly, a combination of these three elements could restore order. If the values of the West are made clearer, are taught in schools and enshrined more officially, then it is harder to justify intolerant behaviour whether it is based on racism, religious superstitions or clashes of cultural norms.
Current edition: 2011 Mar 08
Last Modified: 2016 Jan 27
Second edition 2006 Oct 01
Originally published 2003 Feb 22
Parent page: Islam: A Critical Look at Contemporary Issues
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