THE ISLAMING OF EUROPE
By Alan Caruba
It may surprise you to learn that Muslims are the second largest religious religious group in Great Britain, after the Anglicans and Roman Catholics combined. There are some two million Muslims in Great Britain. They are not indigenous to Britain, being largely newcomers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India. Others come from Africa, Asia, and even Europe. The Muslims of Britain are very diverse in many ways, their only similarity, in many cases, being their faith in Islam. Increasingly, though, demands have grown for education of Muslim children to reflect their religion, for official recognition of the Islamic faith. Native-born Brits are less than thrilled with the Muslims' growing numbers and demands.
In the recent presidential election in France, the vote for Le Pen, a candidate with extreme Rightwing views, was generated by a growing concern of ordinary, native-born French men and women regarding France's Muslim population and other immigrants. Here again, the fact that some five million Muslims are the second largest religious group in France may come as a surprise. More than half of the Muslims in France are French citizens. They are largely the result of France's colonial past, especially in the North African region.
Most of the members of the Muslim community in France are from the North African region called "Maghreb," from the nations of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Others come from Turkey, Senegal, and Mali. Some are converts. Islam has a long history in France. Ironically, the spread of Islam into Europe was ended with their military defeat at Poitiers, France, in 732. It would not be until 1683, when the Muslim invaders were defeated near Vienna, Austria, that further Islamic expansion efforts ended in Europe. Now, Muslims merely immigrate to European nation-states.
France's situation is particularly instructive. Muslim immigration began in ernest in the 1950s, primarily from Maghreb nations. For decades, the religion was largely invisible and Muslims represented the lowest rungs of the economic and social ladder, but, in the 1990s, second and third generation French Muslims underwent a re-conversion of sorts, joining the ranks of radical Islam to seek an identity in a society from which they felt excluded.
This is interesting, too, because, twenty years ago, the demand for official recognition of Islam led to the Charter of Muslim Faith that defined how a French Muslim could remain faithful to both Islam and France. Today, native French citizens tend to regard Muslims as a danger to their society. The French government, however, has seen integration of Muslims into French society as a wiser path than some form of de facto isolation.
Reportedly, the overwhelming majority of Europe's Muslims see their religion as a moderate one. There are 32.5 million Muslims throughout the British Isles and continental Europe, including the Balkans and the Caucasus. Some of these Muslims are in the process of redefining the European adherents to Islam as people born and bred in Europe. This could be the beginning of a much-needed Reformation within Islam, like the one that occurred within and redefined Christianity during the sixteenth century.
Having noted the Muslim defeat outside of Vienna, Austria, in 1683, it would not be until 1878 before Muslims appeared in greater numbers among European Westerners, this development occurring as a result of the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and other territories by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Currently, Muslims are the third largest religious group in Austria and growing. Their numbers doubled between 1981 and 1991. These Muslims are largely immigrants and are often political refugees. The bulk of them are from Turkey and the former Yugoslavia. The recent Balkan wars drove a lot of Muslims to choose Austria as a homeland.
The relationship between Muslim minorities and the State of Austria has been formalized and regulated since 1912 by the Islam Act, which officially recognized the religion. It led to the establishment of the Muslim Faith Union in 1979, and Austrian Muslims are taught their faith in public schools with teachers paid by the State. The rise of nationalistic political parties in Austria reflects a concern seen in France. Increasingly, a growing portion of native Austrians are suspicious and fearful of Muslims.
In Poland, Muslims are chiefly Polish-Lithuanian Tartars, a group estimated between two and three thousand, who have lived in that nation for some 600 years. Their small numbers versus the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Poles has left them largely ignored. However, Muslims in the post-Soviet Caucasus are an entirely different situation. For example, Islamic fundamentalism has led Muslin Chechens to use terrorism and war on the Russians to seek a separate and thoroughly Islamic nation-state. The Russians have responded to the Chechens in the same fashion as the U.S.A. has responded to Taliban and Al-Qa'ida in Afghanistan.
Several former "Soviet Socialist Republics" that are now independent republics allied with Russia have large Muslim populations. These include Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhatan. Add to this the former U.S.S.R. ally and satellite state, Albania. The recent Balkan wars were largely religious movements by militant Muslims and, ironically, the U.S.A. sided with the Muslims against the Serbs. So did the rest of Europe,
So, now, when you say Europe, keep in mind that the nation-states which compose it are increasingly home to a growing population of Muslims. Whenever a population of Muslims gains in numbers, they begin to demand autonomy or a change in the governmental structure to reflect Islamic law.
You cannot name a single Islamic nation that is a constitutional democracy. In Turkey, the only Muslim nation-state that comes close (but not close enough) to being a constitutional democracy, a military elite--an oligarchy--has maintained a secular government since the days of Ataturk (Mustafa Kemal), the man who turned Turkey into a modern nation-state. The Islamic demand for some type of governmental system other than constitutional democracy is likely to lead to religious conflict in Europe. This is the danger that Islam poses to the entire free world.
Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
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Immigration Issues & Problems
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Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
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Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
U.S. National Security Strategy
Alan Caruba is the founder of the National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about media-driven scare campaigns. The Center maintains an Internet website at http://www.anxietycenter.com, where Caruba writes a weekly column, WARNING SIGNS. He is the author of A POCKET GUIDE TO MILITANT ISLAM and THE UNITED NATIONS VS. THE UNITED STATES.
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