As most of you know, Europe now has a high population of Muslim immigrants and in many parts of Europe like Britain, Holland, Germany, and France--this is causing quite a bit of tension. The concern is that entire neighborhoods are governed under Sharia law now and that these Muslims have no desire to integrate into Western society. Furthermore, many mosques (like the Finsbury Park mosque in London) have become hotbeds of Islamic militarism.
I was asked today by a friend (via email) if I thought that Europe is in danger of being (re) conquered by Muslims. Here was my response:
it is true that:
*political correctness has allowed Islamic communities too much power in Europe
*Many neighborhoods of Europe have Muslim communities living under Sharia law
*Islam does not have the same foundation for separation between church and state as other religions—it is in fact strongly in favor of the combination of the two.
*Islam has a hard time living with its neighbors (Islam’s bloody borders as Huntington called it).
*Europe is in a demographic crisis
However, we always have to be careful of straight line projections: “A” will automatically lead to “B.”
Other factors to consider:
*Islam is not immune to secularization. The younger generations in Europe will most likely lose there religious fervor or temper it.
*The rise of Islamic parties in Europe is likely to decrease, not increase Islamism. Bin Laden can get away with his utopian statements because he doesn’t have to govern anything. Once you have to govern, religious parties always end up secularizing the people (something Americans don’t seem to get).
*Societies in demographic crisis often begin changing their behavior and regain some balance. Europeans are starting to have more children, and there is more of a backlash against Islamic dominance (as in liberal France with its new headscarf laws).
*Islam is not a monolithic thing---and Muslims have a hard time getting along with each other. They are unlikely to establish an Islamic caliphate because they can never agree with anything.
*Europe’s nationalism is not far under the surface and could re-assert itself in a very strong way (removing immigrants or worse).
As I argued in my first book, I do think that we are going to be in an age of renewed religious tensions. But I think the biggest battle of all will be Islam’s civil war with itself. Can it deal with modernity? Can it deal with secularization? Can it separate religion and politics enough to economically succeed. Indonesia and Malaysia are a different model of Islam than Iran. And The Gulf city-states are different as well.
Western society is probably more resilient and powerful than (we think)..and Islam is more divided.
As I got ready to write this post, I saw on the news that some Americans are burning Korans at the 9/11 site. Of course, in response, there are now Christians being attacked in Indonesia (and probably elsewhere). The stupidity of Bin Laden is the idea that the whole world would actually submit to an inherently prejudiced, perpetually threatened theocracy. The correct response to that is not then to advocate for a different kind of prejudiced theocracy.
In the final analysis, secularism could be the big winner in all of this.