THE EURO-ARAB AXIS
By Bat Ye’or
Fairleigh Dickinson, $23.95, 270 pages
REVIEWED BY JULIA DUIN
In Europe, the cathedrals are empty and the mosques are full. One reason the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI this spring is because the 115 cardinals who gathered in Rome saw Europe’s rechristianization as their top priority. They wanted a man who could not only fight the Islamic and secularist tides sweeping the continent, they needed a candidate who understood the profound hostility both cultures have toward a Christian Europe.
Hostility? Yes, says Bat Ye’or, a scholar living in Switzerland, who says the battle of Tours, where Charles Martel and the Franks in 732 turned back the Muslim armies, is being refought. This time, says the author, who has written three previous books on conditions of Christians and Jews living in Islamic countries, Muslims will suceed in Islamicizing Europe, with immense consequences for the United States. Despite diplomatic niceties, Christians and Jews are — and always will be — considered as infidels for refusing Islam’s truth, writes Ms. Ye’or. As Muslim immigrants pour into Europe, what is emerging, in her view, “is a new Eurabian culture with its own dogma, preachers, axioms and rules.”
Listing an array of conferences, speeches and documents from Islamic groups intent on forming Europe into an Islamic state, the author documents several trends to support her thesis:
— Middle Eastern Muslims in search of jobs and greater political freedom have immigrated to Europe in droves, particularly France, which is now eight percent Muslim.
— The Muslim influx has brought a rising anti-Semitism. The year 2001 was in Europe a time of record assaults on Jews, she says; the term “Jew” has become the all-purpose insult in parts of France, and the Holocaust is increasingly being denied.
— The Crusades are being repackaged to become a tale of Islamic victimization at the hands of barbaric Christian Europeans. Histories of the Crusades, she adds, tend to leave out how Muslims swept through Christianized lands from Persia to Spain within the space of about 100 years, engulfing Syria, Lebanon, Sicily, much of Turkey and Palestine, not to mention all of northern Africa.
Nearly 10 centuries later, Europeans are witnessing the unwitting Islamicization of their own continent and today, “at the dawn of the 21st century,” writes Ms. Ye’or, “a conflict of civilizations is reemerging on European soil in the context of Islamic immigration.” She doesn’t cite specific figures but a December 2004 Pew Forum, “Muslims and the Future of Europe,” points out the number of Muslims in Europe has tripled in the past 30 years and that Islam is now the continent’s fastest-growing religion.
To date, 23 million Muslims comprise five percent of Europe’s 425 million residents, but with Muslim immigrants having a birthrate three times their European neighbors, it will double to 10 percent by 2020. The future, says Bat Ye’or, will look like her Jewish childhood in Muslim Egypt, where she experienced how Muslims deal with religious minorities. With the exception of Turkey, majority Muslim countries do not separate mosque and state; therefore life as a Christian, Jew, Hindu or nonbeliever in such lands is a second-class existence at best.
What she finds indefensible are Christian theologians who do not grasp that in Islamic eyes, Christianity is a perversion of the original religion handed down by Allah which is, of course, Islam. She finds the new European constitution, which leaves out mention Christianity as the founding religion of the continent, as one more sign of the emptying of the public square.
In old Europe’s place will be “Eurabia,” a federation of majority Islamic republics backed by the Euro and arrayed against the United States and Israel. With a rise in anti-Americanism, fanned into flames in the 1960s by France’s Charles de Gaulle and a corresponding hatred of Israel in Europe, her scenario is that it wouldn’t take much to re-ignite anti-Semitism there. Already, she writes, Paris, with its Islamic ghettos, competes with Vienna as being the most anti-Semitic city in Europe. Europeans have sought out Arab and Palestinian alliances in reaction to the U.S.-Israel axis and because of their dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Joint Euro-Arab cultural centers have sprung up in European cities to teach the Arabic language and Islamic culture.
One factor hindering Europeans from understanding their Islamic future, she points out, is ignorance of their own history. For instance, the Iberian peninsula was overrun by Arab armies from 710-716 AD. Toledo, which was conquered during this period, revolted in 713 and its notables rewarded by having their throats slit. Inhabitants of Toledo, Cordova and Merida all revolted during the early ninth century and were met with executions and crucifixions. Seville revolted in 891 and its inhabitants were massacred. In 1066, 3,000 Jews were killed in Granada. Yet today, the author says, this 700-year conquest has been recast as “Andalusia,” an idyllic concept among academics of peaceful Muslim-Jewish-Christian coexistence during those centuries.
Bat Ye’or does not claim objectivity but she does say her read of history is accurate, but largely ignored. Thus she wrote the book in English (her earlier works were translated from French) in hope of interesting Americans who experienced September 11. American readers might find her history of Euro-Arab cooperation as a pretty dense read but they may agree that a religious tsunami is approaching Europe and its inhabitants need to be warned. Not only have European leaders allowed the political and cultural subversion of an entire continent, the author believes, but Christian leaders have tolerated religious rivalries among themselves that have benefited Muslims. Secular leaders, eager to shed the last remains of Christendom, have followed along. So that now, “A conflict of civilizations is reemerging on European soil,” she warns, but “western politicians choose to circumvent, rather than confront it.”
Julia Duin is chief religion writer for The Washington Times.