October 20, 2008
Since you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am going to spit you out of my mouth. You say, “I am rich. I have become wealthy. I don”t need anything.” Yet you don”t realize that you are miserable, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. (Revelation 3:16-17)
While 44 per cent of Americans attend a place of worship once a week”and this is mostly a Christian place of worship”only 15 per cent of Europeans do so”and many of them go to a mosque instead of a church. The European disease was aptly analyzed by Pope Benedict XVI who said that it was caused by “the cynicism of a secularized culture that denies its own foundations.”
Here lies the explanation for Europe’s current predicament. What we see happening today in Europe is not Islam replacing Christianity; during the past decades secularism replaced Christianity. What we see happening now is Islam replacing post-Christian secularism.
In an interview in the German newspaper Die Welt last month, Father Notker Wolf, the German professor and monk who is the head of the Benedictine monks worldwide, suggested that Islam might perhaps be “a provocation from God.” Father Notker implies that Islamization can only be stopped if Europe rediscovers its Christian roots.
Michael Nazir-Ali, the Anglican Bishop of Rochester, is convinced that the dire situation which Europe is currently facing, is not caused by the fact that there are so many Muslims in Europe, but that there are so few Christians left.
According to Bishop Michael, who lives in a residence discreetly guarded by the police after he received Muslim death threats, Islamization is not the cause but the consequence of Europe’s collapse. The Bishop says,
The real danger is the spiritual and moral vacuum that has occurred for the last 40 or 50 years. If people are not given a fresh way of understanding what it means to be a Christian and what it means to be a Christian-based society then something else may well take the place of all that we”re used to and that could be Islam.
What the consequences might be of replacing Christianity as Europe’s religion by Islam was explained almost 200 years ago by Alexis de Tocqueville. This 19th century Frenchman, who was a great, though critical, admirer of the United States, pointed out that the deep religiosity of the Americans is the foundation of America’s freedom. However, not every religion or faith leads to freedom. In 1840 Tocqueville wrote, in a passage which is highly relevant to Europe today:
Muhammad brought down from heaven […] not religious doctrines only, but political maxims, criminal and civil laws, and scientific theories. The Gospels, on the other hand, deal only with the general relations between man and God and between man and man. Beyond that, they teach nothing and do not oblige people to believe anything. That alone, among a thousand reasons, is enough to show that Islam will not be able to hold its power long in ages of enlightenment and democracy, while Christianity is destined to reign in such ages, as in all others. (Democracy in America, vol. 2, pt. 1, ch. 5)
If Tocqueville is right, Islam cannot hold its power in an enlightened and democratic environment. If we wonder why Islam is gaining strength in Europe we should not confuse cause and consequence. Europe is not becoming less and less free and democratic because it is becoming Islamic, but Europe is becoming Islamic because it has become less and less free and democratic following the demise of Christianity. In Europe, the religious vacuum left by secularisation is being filled by Islam. One should not blame Muslims for this. The people to blame are the Europeans.
Society cannot exist without a shared set of moral values. Typically these are provided by religion. Failing this the state usurps the role of religion and governments will impose moral standards. We have been witnessing this phenomenon in Europe throughout the past four decades, during which governments, aided by supra-national organizations such as the EU and various UN organizations, have begun to impose a doctrine of multiculturalism. This doctrine, which destroyed the Christian foundation of Western Europe, has opened the latter’s doors to Islam. Christianity died in Western Europe before Islam took over.
The situation is dire all over Western Europe, but perhaps nowhere is it as bad as in the Netherlands. The country was in the forefront of secularization. It was one of the most radical and vehement in rejecting the Christian heritage and moral values of its ancestors. In so doing the Dutch created a massive religious, and also demographic, vacuum which attracted Islam to fill it.
The Netherlands was the first European country to legalize abortion as well as euthanasia and the first to open up the institution of marriage to homosexuals. What happened in the Netherlands has happened”and is happening”all over Europe, but it seems to have happened first in the Netherlands because, together with Sweden, it was one of the first to become a fully-fledged welfare society. For over half a century the Dutch have been pampered by an extensive welfare system. People who have the state take care of them from the cradle to the grave no longer need God. They have traded their freedom for material security. They have replaced God by the golden calf of the welfare state. The state has become their god.
The state is, however, an envious god. The welfare state intentionally undermines the Christian principles to crush the spirit of freedom among its subjects. It also undermines demographics, because people who do not believe in God do not believe in the future and consider children to be a burden. Today, Islam is filling the void that was left when the Dutch created a religious and demographic vacuum in the heart of their culture.
In combination with the above, a wholly new danger emerged, namely that of welfare immigration”the immigration of people, increasingly from cultures which have not been shaped by the basic forces of European civilization, who come purely for the purpose of claiming welfare benefits.
Of the 16 million inhabitants of the Netherlands, ten per cent are immigrants. There are 1.1 million “traditional immigrants””the so-called “guest workers” and their families. These are mainly Turks and Moroccans”and 600,000 asylum seekers. Of the latter group an additional 10,000 enter the Netherlands each year, of the former some 55,000. They are mainly young people of childbearing age. The problem of Islamization will only increase in the future because the Muslims are fecund, while the secularist Dutch have hardly any offspring.
There are currently 360,000 ethnic Turks in the Netherlands, 45 per cent of whom are “second generation” Turks, meaning that they were born in the Netherlands. There are 316,000 Moroccans, of whom 47 per cent are second generation. Among the asylum seekers the largest groups are Iranians (37,000, of whom 12 per cent are second generation) and Afghans (29,000, of whom 17 per cent are second generation).
The Dutch birthrate is declining fast. In 2002, there were still 202,000 babies born in the Netherlands; in 2005 only 190,000 and in 2007 barely 181,000. In 5 years the number of births fell with a staggering 21,000 or 10 per cent.
Within this shrinking group of births, the number of immigrant newborns (of the second and even third generations) continues to grow: from under 40,000 in 1996 to 50,000 ten years later. A quarter of them are ethnic Moroccans, a fifth are Turkish.
In Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague half the newborns are of non-Western origin and Mohammed is the most popular name for newborn boys. Ethnic Dutch women have on average 1.5 children. The number for Moroccan women living in the Netherlands is 3.3 and for Turkish women 2.3.
An existential uneasiness has engulfed the country that thought it could do without God. Many of the natives, the indigenous Dutch, are fleeing. Last year, as in every year since 2004, more ethnic Dutch natives moved out of the country than newcomers moved in. Almost 123,000 people left the Netherlands in 2007, while fewer than 117,000 immigrated in. People who have lost faith in God do not fight. They run. Since they do not believe in life after death, this life is the only thing they have to lose. One emigrant Dutchman, a homosexual author who now lives in Brussels, wrote recently: “I am not a warrior. I do not fight for freedom. I am only good at enjoying it.”
This mentality has affected the whole of Western Europe. All over Europe, Muslims regard Western women as whores waiting to be raped. The number of reported rapes in Sweden is three times as high as in New York City, which has roughly the same number of inhabitants but is a metropolis, whereas Sweden is a country with mostly rural areas and villages.
While many women in Western Europe fear what might happen to them, they have become almost fatalistic about it. A young German woman said that it is “better to let yourself be raped than risk injuries while resisting, better to avoid fighting than risk death.”
This attitude is very un-American, but is typical for the secularist Europeans. Europe has chosen the path of submission. The path of submission is the path of Islam. The very word Islam means “submission.” Many Europeans have submitted already. In that sense, they have already, and voluntarily, become Muslims. The self-inflicted disease of welfarism saps people of the strength to take care of themselves, to stand up for their rights, to fight for their freedom and even for their physical integrity.
Western Europe’s contemporary culture is one of repudiation, a culture based on negatives for every aspect of the traditional European heritage, such as Christianity, monogamous marriage, national loyalty, monocultural identity and so on. Western Europe’s refusal to uphold the old forms of moral and civil order make it impossible to curb the welfare state, to control immigration, to maintain order in its cities, to resist Islamization.
About five per cent of the Muslims in the Netherlands are suspected fundamentalists. On November 2, 2004, one of them, Mohammed Bouyeri, a then 26-year old Dutchman of Moroccan descent, ritually slaughtered the filmmaker Theo van Gogh.
The assassination of van Gogh, two years after the May 2002 murder of the popular anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn, sent shock waves through Dutch society.
During most of his trial Bouyeri, who wore a Palestinian scarf, hardly spoke a word. He displayed the same calmness he had shown whilst he slit van Gogh’s throat in a busy Amsterdam street.
In July 2005, the court in Amsterdam sentenced Bouyeri to life-long imprisonment for the murder. The public prosecutor had asked that the assassin also be deprived of his active and passive voting rights: i.e. the right to vote as well as the right to be elected in Parliament. The court, however, rejected this request.
This attitude is typical of European societies, such as the Netherlands, with their refusal to defend their own order and fight for their own survival. Bouyeri despises the Dutch, he wants to annihilate them, but the Dutch allow him to vote in their elections and even to be elected. The ludicrously permissive Dutch open their doors for those who want to assassinate them. In a secularist and politically correct society, it is harder to withhold rights (apparently even from a man who butchers fellow citizens) than to magnanimously grant them, displaying one’s tolerance and broad-mindedness as one does so. What harm, the liberals think, because for them these rights are no more than abstract professions of non-discrimination.
During the trial Bouyeri said he did not in the least regret butchering van Gogh. He added that he would do it again. Is it far-fetched to think that the fierce, indeed, the murderous, intolerance of about five percent of the Muslims in the Netherlands has been caused by the excessive ultra-tolerance and permissiveness of the Dutch? Perhaps the Muslim hate for the Dutch is caused by their deep contempt for the secular nihilism of the latter.
The murdered Theo van Gogh had been an icon of Dutch liberalism. In his films and newspaper columns he deliberately set out to shock and insult anyone who believed in anything, especially if these people were religious. The Netherlands having been traditionally a Christian nation, Christians were van Gogh’s first targets. He called Jesus “the rotten fish of Nazareth.” Jews were offended by van Gogh’s quip that “cremating Jewish diabetics must have smelled like caramel.” Bouyeri had been offended by the movie “Submission,” a documentary that van Gogh made about the position of women in Islam, but also by his reference to Muslims as “goat fuckers” who believe in “a pig called Allah.”
In the late 1980s and early “90s, a number of Christians and Jews took van Gogh to court, but in vain. Freedom of speech cannot be limited by laws, except in totalitarian states. Van Gogh’s diatribes, however, prove that freedom of speech becomes self-defeating in a society where all constraints of decency and manners have crumbled under the onslaught of moral relativism and liberal secularism. This is exactly what happened in the Netherlands in the 1970s and “80s.
Pim Fortuyn, another Dutch public figure who had been threatened by Islamist fundamentalists (although he was murdered by an animal welfare activist), was a notorious promiscuous homosexual who claimed that he was not a racist because he “had sex with young Moroccan boys in darkrooms.”
Though it is no excuse for murder, the moral deprivation of the West helps explain the contempt of fundamentalist Muslims for our societies. The fact that the murderer Bouyeri was allowed to keep his active and passive voting rights will not enhance the fundamentalists” respect for Dutch democracy. Without such respect it is unlikely that they will be less inclined to destroy it.
Criminal gangs of young Muslims assaulting natives in Sweden openly admit that they do it because they despise their victims. “When we are in the city and robbing we are waging a war, waging a war against the Swedes,” they say. “Power for me means that the Swedes shall look at me, lie down on the ground and kiss my feet. We rob every single day, as often as we want to, whenever we want to.” They do not express any sympathy for their victims: “If they get injured, they just have themselves to blame for being weak.”
Van Gogh and Fortuyn were atypical for most European secularists in that at least they resisted Islamization. They refused to submit. While van Gogh insulted and fought Christianity and Judaism, he also insulted and fought Islam. Most European secularists, however, consider Islam a useful ally in their attempt to eradicate Christianity. Hence, they facilitate Islamization, confident that they will be able to secularize the Muslims in due course. This seems to be the official policy of the Dutch authorities.
In 2006 the Netherlands introduced a so-called “integration test for immigrants which the latter must pass before being allowed to settle in the country. The test includes a film which exposes the would-be immigrants to scenes of kissing homosexual men and topless women. The message, as the Associated Press pointedly summarized two years ago, is that “If you can”t tolerate gay lifestyle and public nudity, you can”t come” and live in the Netherlands.
Apart from their usefulness in undermining the Christian foundation of Western Europe, European secularist politicians also value the Muslim immigrants as an electoral life insurance. Welfare immigration led to the welfare immigrants becoming the new electorate of the political parties which created, and which still uphold, welfare statism. In Western Europe these are not just the socialist and social-democratic parties, but all the traditional so-called “mainstream” parties of the right, such as the Christian-Democrats.
The “mainstream” parties actively search for the Muslim vote. This phenomenon has become increasingly important because the Muslim population has continuously grown, thereby becoming the power broker in the elections. Apart from the so-called “far-right”, all political parties compete with each other in giving in to Muslim demands.
These demands range from separate swimming hours for men and women in public pools; to the serving of halal food for everyone (Muslims as well as non-Muslims) in school and factory cafeterias; the state-subsidized building of megamosques; an anti-Israeli foreign policy; the prosecution of so-called “Islamophobic” individuals, journalists and cartoonists on the one hand, and the refusal to prosecute Muslim criminals and extremists on the other hand; the prohibition for all civil servants (Muslims as well as non-Muslims) to eat in public during Ramadan; the introduction of Sharia law; the banning of demonstrations in remembrance of the victims of the 2001 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington; the abandonment of entire neighbourhoods to Islamic youth gangs; and so on.
An example of the degree to which the authorities condone Muslim violence could be found recently in the middle-sized Dutch city of Gouda, famous for its cheese. On 21 September, a police officer was knifed in a Muslim area of Gouda. Though colleagues of the officer had arrested a suspect, the Public Prosecutor’s Office released him, while the authorities minimized the attack and a police spokesman said that the incident was “very unpleasant of course, but a knifing is too big a word. The knife only caught his buttock.”
Indeed, the Dutch can no longer rely on civil order or effective law enforcement. In October 2008, the Dutch government even established a telephone help-line for mayors who face aggression and violence. According to the Dutch Interior minister, 60 per cent of mayors in the Netherlands feel personally threatened. The situation has deteriorated despite the fact that, following the 2006 local elections, many Muslims became members of Dutch municipal councils.
The degree to which the Muslim vote has tipped the electoral balance in the Netherlands indicates that turning the tide of Islamization will be very difficult. The elections in the Netherlands reveal the growing importance of the Muslim vote. Immigrants overwhelmingly vote for left-wing parties. This is hardly surprising since most of the immigrants were attracted to the country by its generous welfare benefits, which they want to safeguard. Indeed, Western Europe’s cultural submission to Islam seems to equal a political submission to Socialism.
Over 80 per cent of the immigrants voted for Labour in the March 2006 Dutch local elections, so this party was very keen on attracting their continued support. It placed many Moroccan and Turkish candidates on its list, but Labour fell out with the Turks when the latter discovered the official party line on the Armenian genocide. Labour’s position is that this genocide really took place and that Ankara should recognize it as a historical fact before Turkey can join the European Union. As a result, in the November 2006 general elections in the Netherlands, the Turkish vote shifted to smaller parties of the far-left, which became the biggest winners of these elections.
Seventy per cent of the immigrants participated in the 2006 Dutch general elections, indicating a political awareness almost as high as that of the indigenous Dutch. Eight Muslims were elected in the Dutch Parliament, which has 150 seats: four of them are Moroccans, three are Turks, including one Kurd, and one is an Afghani. One Muslim is a Christian-Democrat member of Parliament, three MPs belong to the center-left and four are members of far-left parties. All eight Muslim MPs hold dual nationality, being citizens of the Netherlands as well as of their country of origin. The same is true for Ahmed Aboutaleb, the Dutch secretary of state for Social Affairs and Employment, who holds Moroccan as well as Dutch citizenship, and Nehabat Albayrak, the Dutch secretary of state for Immigration, who holds Turkish as well as Dutch citizenship.
Last year, the Dutch Parliament approved a proposal submitted by Secretary Albayrak to give permanent resident cards to everyone who has been living illegally in the Netherlands since 2001. Opponents fear that Albayrak’s amnesty might attract up to half a million new immigrants”many of them Muslims”to the Netherlands. The new generation of Dutch immigrant politicians cater for their fellow Muslims. They have little in common with the former Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born immigrant who was a Muslim apostate advocating anti-islamic legislation. Hirsi Ali left the Dutch parliament in 2006 and moved to the United States.
The newly elected immigrant politicians, on the contrary, represent a growing and demographically young electorate that insists on its Muslim identity. Their loyalties lie more with their countries of origin than with the Dutch nation, which they look upon mainly as a welfare distributing Santa Claus.
The same phenomenon can be noticed in neighbouring countries, such as Germany and Belgium. In the 2005 German general elections, 94 per cent of the Germans of immigrant (mainly Turkish) origin voted for the parties of the left. These parties”Socialists, Greens and “Post”-Communists”gained 51.1 per cent of the national vote. Also in Germany, the Muslim vote tipped the balance towards the left.
In the October 2006 Belgian local elections, the immigrant vote also tipped the balance in the major cities in favour of the Socialists. In Antwerp, the Socialists became the largest party. They won 22 of the 55 seats in the municipal council”a gain of ten seats. Seven of the Socialist councillors, almost one third of the total, are Muslims. The only party able to avoid being swallowed up by the Socialists in the 2006 Antwerp local elections were the Christian-Democrats. They managed to keep their six seats by putting forward immigrant candidates as well. The result, however is, that two of their elected candidates, one third of the total, are Muslims. One of them, ErgÃ¼n Top, an advisor to the Belgian Christian-Democrat Prime Minister Yves Leterme, admits that he feels more loyalty towards Turkey than towards Belgium. He told an audience of Turkish-born Belgian voters that if there ever were a war between Belgium and Turkey, he would join the Turkish army and fight Belgium.
In order to attract Muslim votes, the Belgian Socialists and Christian-Democrats even put extremists on their electoral lists. One of them, Murat Denizli, was elected for the Parti Socialiste (PS) in the large Brussels borough of Schaarbeek, which has a Muslim population of 47.9 per cent. Mr Denizli was introduced on the Socialist list by Laurette Onkelinx, the Belgian vice prime minister. Though indigenous Schaarbeek Socialists had rejected Mr Denizli and other immigrants who adhered to what they called “rather religious and conservative Muslim values,” Onkelinx demanded that these candidates be accepted because, as she said, “they are popular and the party has to win the elections at any price.”
Molenbeek, another Brussels borough, has 50.5 per cent Islamic inhabitants and one of the largest concentrations of North African immigrants in Belgium. Molenbeek has all but been taken over by the Muslims. Its mayor, Philippe Moureaux, a Socialist, got elected thanks to the Muslim vote. Mr Moureaux has declared that it is “not expedient” for the police to patrol in Muslim quarters and has forbidden police officers to drink coffee or eat a sandwich in the street during Ramadan.
On September 11, last year as well as this year, Freddy Thielemans, the Socialist mayor of Brussels, banned memorial services for the terror victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington. Mr Thielemans does so because he fears such memorial services will upset the city’s large Muslim population”33.8per cent of the Brussels inhabitants. Mayor Thielemans’s PS is the largest party in Brussels. It holds 17 of the 47 seats in the city council. A majority, 10 of the 17, socialist councillors are Muslims.
The Socialists govern Brussels in a coalition with the Christian-Democrats, who have 11 councillors, of whom 2 are Muslims and 3 are immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa. Only 13 of the 28 councillors in the governing coalition of the city are native Belgians. Mayor Thielemans is the most conspicuous of these. He is an atheist who is fond of Muslims, not because he respects religious people, but because he hates Christians. On 2 April 2005, the Brussels mayor was attending an official cocktail party when the news of the death of Pope John Paul II reached him. On hearing the news he ordered “Champagne for everyone!” Upsetting Christians has never particularly worried the Socialist mayor of Brussels, for instance when he refused to ban posters from public areas which portrayed the Virgin Mary with bare breasts.
Since there are few indications of improvements, Europe’s future looks bleak. Western Europe will only be able to avoid a Muslim future if it rediscovers its Christian roots. As pointed out earlier, Islamization is not the cause but the consequence of Europe’s collapse. If Europe had still been Christian, it would have regarded the coming of millions of Muslim immigrants as an opportunity to bring Christ to these people. Having renounced Christ, Europe could only offer its culture.
There is a flicker of hope, though. It was offered last March by Pope Benedict when he baptized 55-year old Magdi Allam, an Egyptian-born Italian journalist and a former Muslim. Mr. Allam moved to Italy in 1972. For almost thirty years he defended Islam and argued in favor of immigration. Since 2002, however, his views altered radically. Today he advocates a ban on mosques in Italy and claims that Islam is inseparable from Islamic extremism.
“I asked myself,” he wrote after his conversion to Catholicism,
how it was possible that those who, like me, sincerely and boldly called for a “moderate Islam,” assuming the responsibility of exposing themselves in the first person in denouncing Islamic extremism and terrorism, ended up being sentenced to death in the name of Islam on the basis of the Quran. I was forced to see that, beyond the contingency of the phenomenon of Islamic extremism and terrorism that has appeared on a global level, the root of evil is inherent in an Islam that is physiologically violent and historically conflictive.
Mr. Allam also advocates proselytizing among Muslims. He wrote that by personally baptizing him
His Holiness has sent an explicit and revolutionary message to a Church that until now has been too prudent in the conversion of Muslims, abstaining from proselytizing in majority Muslim countries and keeping quiet about the reality of converts in Christian countries. Out of fear. The fear of not being able to protect converts in the face of their being condemned to death for apostasy and fear of reprisals against Christians living in Islamic countries. Well, today Benedict XVI, with his witness, tells us that we must overcome fear and not be afraid to affirm the truth of Jesus even with Muslims.
In France, a group of former Muslims who converted to Evangelical Protestantism, does missionary work in Muslim neighborhoods. I met some of them recently and was very impressed by their courage. They told me that there is a “hunger for God” among the French Muslims and that the Muslims are the prisoners of Islam and are very receptive towards Christianity. If so, and if Europe fails to grasp this unique opportunity, it surely will only have itself to blame for the collapse of its civilization in the second quarter of this century.
Paul Belien is a Flemish journalist and founder of The Brussels Journal, Europe’s leading conservative website. His wife is a member of the Belgian parliament for Vlaams Belang.