- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Islamic activists in Europe have taken a leaf out of the old communist guidebook for the “long march through the institutions.” In Antwerp, Belgium, for example, the city council has been infiltrated by Islamist fundamentalists — Belgian citizens, of course — who keep pushing the envelope with impunity.

From Leeds in the U.K. to Livorno in Italy and from Luxembourg to Slovenia’s Ljubljana, multiculturalism is pretty much of a bust. Quicksand is the only common ground between Western values and militant Muslim fundamentalism. But some Islamist extremists have found willing partners among leftist radicals who never got over the end of the Cold War — and jump at any opportunity to rumble against whatever government is in power.

In Germany, the weekly Der Spiegel, in a lengthy cover story, documented case after case of Muslims, and local German benefactors or sympathizers, busy paving the way for a Muslim “parallel” society. A Moroccan-born, 26-year-old German who had been subjected to her husband’s “corporal punishment” and was denied grounds for divorce, triggered a nationwide cry of outrage.

Judge Christa Datz-Winter of Frankfurt’s family court even quoted the Koran — Sura 4, verse 34 — when she wrote in her decision the Muslim Holy Book contains “both the husband’s right to use corporal punishment against a disobedient wife and the establishment of the husband’s superiority over the wife.”

Der Spiegel, Germany’s foremost news magazine, commented, “In one fell swoop, Germany’s Muslims took a substantial bite out of the legal foundations of Western civilization.” Yet some liberal judges see Muslim subcultures as mitigating circumstances. In 2004, the Federal Ministry for Social Affairs instructed insurance agencies that polygamous marriages must be recognized if they are legal under the laws of the native country of the individuals in question. Thus, they were allowed to add a second wife to their government health insurance policies without having to pay an additional premium. This was later reversed.

Zero tolerance for intolerance has gone the way of the dodo. Now misguided tolerance has spawned liberal opinions that categorize Muslim honor killings as manslaughter, not murder. Some Islamic experts in German universities already ask whether Shariah law, or Islamic law, is gradually infecting German law.

Muslims now are authorized to take their kids out of swimming lessons, and prayer breaks for Muslims have won out in industrial plants. A year after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S., a Muslim religious leader in Hesse issued what became known as the “camel fatwa.” A Muslim woman could travel no more than 81 kilometers [49 miles] from the home of her husband or parents without being accompanied by a male blood relative. That was the distance a camel caravan could travel within 24 hours in the days of the Prophet Muhammad.

Conservatives see the multicultural illusions of recent decades as naive. Islamists are not interested in cultural diversity.

The European cult of appeasement has given free rein to radical imams whose only goal is to Islamicize Christian Europe. The terrain is fertile. Only 20 percent of Europe’s Christians attend church services on Sunday, but mosques are packed with worshippers on Fridays where sermons are political paeans to the courageous jihadis in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact they are fighting American and NATO troops (including Germans) is left unmentioned. But Judge Klaus Feldmann of the Potsdam district court outside Berlin ruled that ZDF public television had to delete reference on its Web site to the former imam of Berlin’s Mevlana mosque as a “hate preacher.”

Judge Datz-Winter was finally removed from the case. But gradual encroachment of fundamentalist Islam continues apace in the U.K., Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Albania, Kosovo and others. Denmark, where a cartoonist whose work disparaged Prophet Muhammad set off demonstrations in Europe and even riots in the Middle East in Sept. 2005, has taken what for Europe passes for a stern measure: Foreigners who marry Danish women will not be entitled to any welfare state benefits until their fifth anniversary.

German city skylines sprout minarets, and irate citizens in several cities have petitioned for a halt in the muezzins 5 a.m. call to prayers, which wakes up the neighborhood an hour before citizens normally get up to go to work. But judges decreed that since church bells are legal the muezzins’ wailing chants are too.

Europe’s churches have provided sanctuaries that welcome illegal Muslims from North and sub-Sahara Africa, as well as the Middle East, and where they can stay while their community lawyers move their appeals through local courts. Brussels Journal Editor Paul Belien wrote, “While Western Europe is turning Muslim, its Christian churches are committing suicide.” By way of comparison, Saudi Arabia, whose Wahhabi clergy has dispatched missionaries to Western countries, does not allow a single Christian church.

The European Union’s 27 member countries now house some 20 million Muslims, which is expected to double in less than 20 years. And no one is more alarmed about current trends than Pope Benedict who said recently, “Unfortunately, one must note that Europe seems to be traveling along a road that could lead to its disappearance from history.”

In a remarkable piece of research and analysis, Russell Shorto, who covers religion for the New York Times Sunday magazine, wrote that the Pope’s speech last September “that caromed around the world and caused protests in the Middle East and attacks on Christian churches [there] for seeming to say that Islam is a religion of violence, marked a homecoming, albeit an incendiary one.” The pontiff’s main target is still the spiritual apathy of Europeans. As Germany’s Cardinal Ratzinger, the pope co-authored a book titled “Without Borders,” which pilloried Europe’s secular dogma that stripped Europe of its soul: “Not only are we no longer Christian; we’re anti-Christian. So we don’t know who we are.”

Der Spiegel quotes Berlin attorney Seyran Ates: “We are at a crossroads, everywhere in Europe. Do we allow structures that lead straight into a parallel society, or do we demand assimilation into the democratic constitutional state?” The European Union switchboard in Brussels finally located someone who said no such question had been posed to the European Commission.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International.

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