Thursday, September 30, 2004

There’s a new word circulating around in the old Europe, “Eurabia.” The neologism describes with grim humor what some Europeans regard as the growing Islamic influence in countries like Sweden thanks to immigration and the high birthrate of the immigrant population.

How serious is the concern? Here, as he discussed protracted negotiations with Turkey to enter the European Union, are the ominously contradictory propositions of French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin:

“We don’t think we should tell Turkey that the doors of Europe are forever closed to it. Do we want the river of Islam to enter the riverbed of secularism?”

According to an interview in the Wall Street Journal Europe, what Mr. Raffarin was questioning, was whether Turkey, a wholly Muslim but non-Arab society, was ready to “embrace Europe’s human-rights values.”

Mr. Raffarin’s concern and also President Jacques Chirac’s is what happens when the “river of Islam” culture, wholly alien and even hostile to Western democratic values, begins to slop over the embankments of the host society.

There is no better answer than a look at Sweden today, a country slightly smaller than California with a population of some 9 million. Sweden has the second-largest percentage Muslim population in Western Europe. France has the highest Muslim population percentage — 7 percent.

Sweden today is a major center of Europe’s anti-Semitism and especially the city of Malmo, commercial center of southern Sweden with 265,000 residents. An estimated 18,000 Jews live in all Sweden, 1,200 in Malmo. And into Malmo’s Islamist enclave the police, it is reported, rarely dare enter.

Anders Carlberg, president of the Jewish community of Goteborg, told an interviewer: “The fear of being attacked is the primary concern of Jews in Sweden today.” That fear was well grounded. On the day after the interview with Mr. Carlberg, his son and three of the son’s friends were attacked in a Malmo restaurant by a gang of Muslim youths, but were rescued by police without injury.

Malmo has a higher percentage of Muslims than the other two large Swedish cities, Stockholm and Gothenburg.

The upsurge in anti-Jewish activities came with the beginning of the Intifada in September 2000. The following month saw a big anti-Israeli demonstration in Malmo where Jewish storeowners were reportedly threatened by Muslims. The Swedish media have been particularly racist. A left-wing newspaper, Indymedia, put on its homepage a cartoon featuring the Angel of Death wearing a hat emblazoned with a swastika and the Star of David.

Sweden’s anti-Semitic problem reflects similar conditions on the Continent. The Commission against Racism and Intolerance, part of the Council of Europe, recently called on its 45 member nations to “ensure that criminal law in the field of combating racism covers anti-Semitism.” Its 16-page report said anti-Semitism was being promoted “openly or in a coded manner” by some European political parties and leaders, including mainstream parties, but it offered no examples.

The report said it was Europe’s “duty to remember the past by remaining vigilant and actively opposing any manifestations of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance.” The commission, based in Strasbourg, France, said: “Anti-Semitism is not a phenomenon of the past and… the slogan ‘never again’ is as relevant today as it was 60 years ago.”

Never again?

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times. His updated biography, “Herman Wouk, the Novelist as Social Historian,” has just been published.

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