THE MOST critical issue facing Europe is the long-term relationship between the continent's natives and its burgeoning Muslim minority. There are but three outcomes-Islamic takeover, Muslim expulsion or harmonious integration-and the end result has profound implications not only for Europe but for humanity as a whole.
EUROPE NEEDS immigrants (the fertility rate is about 1.4 children per woman, just two-thirds the replacement rate of 2.1) to avoid severe population decline, with all the woes that implies-particularly an absence of workers to fund generous pension plans-and Muslims tend to make up that imported third of the population. In part, this is because Muslims are close by; it's only 13 kilometers from Morocco to Spain. After moving to Europe, Muslims relieve European childlessness with a high fertility rate. Although the Muslim fertility rate is falling, it remains three times that of indigenous Europeans. In Brussels, "Muhammad" has for some years been the most popular name given to boys. Amsterdam and Rotterdam are on track to have majority Muslim populations by about 2015.
Immigrant Muslims widely disdain Western civilization, especially the open sexuality shown through pornography, divorce and homosexuality. Yet they stay. Here is one colorful example: In March 2004, the mother of the notorious Khadr brood (known as Canada's first terrorism family) publicly insisted that Al-Qaeda-sponsored training camps were the best place for her children. "Would you like me to raise my child in Canada to be, by the time he's 12 or 13 years old, to be on drugs or having some homosexual relationship? Is it better?" But one month later, in April 2004, she returned from Afghanistan and Pakistan with one of her sons.
At the same time, what some see as Europe's political correctness reflects a deeper phenomenon, namely, the alienation of many Europeans from their civilization-a sense that their culture is not worth fighting for or even saving. It's striking to note differences within Europe in this regard. Perhaps the country least prone to this alienation is France, where traditional nationalism still holds sway and the French take pride in their identity. Britain is most disconnected, as symbolized by the plaintive government program "ICONS-A Portrait of England." "ICONS" lamely hopes to rekindle patriotism by connecting Britons to their "national treasures", such as Winnie the Pooh and miniskirts.
Nonetheless, extreme secularism pervades Europe, especially among its elites, to the point that believing Christians are seen as mentally unbalanced and unfit for public office. In 2005, Italy denied Catholic politician Rocco Buttiliglione the European Union commissionership-because of his views on issues like homosexuality. Entrenched secularism also means empty churches: London is home to seven times more born-Christians than born-Muslims, but more people attend mosques on Friday than churches on Sunday. As Christianity fades, Islam beckons; Prince Charles exemplifies many Europeans' fascination with Islam. The continent could see many conversions, for as the saying ascribed to G. K. Chesterton contends, "When men stop believing in God they don't believe in nothing; they believe in anything."
The late Oriana Fallaci observed that, with the passage of time, "Europe becomes more and more a province of Islam, a colony of Islam." The historian Bat Ye'or has dubbed this colony "Eurabia." Walter Laqueur predicts in his forthcoming Last Days of Europe that Europe as we know it is bound to change. Mark Steyn, in America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, argues that much of the Western world "will not survive the twenty-first century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most European countries."
This diffidence has had direct and adverse implications for Muslim immigrants, as Aatish Taseer explained in Prospect magazine:
Britishness is the most nominal aspect of identity to many young British Pakistanis. . . . If you denigrate your own culture you face the risk of your newer arrivals looking for one elsewhere. So far afield in this case, that for many second-generation British Pakistanis, the desert culture of the Arabs held more appeal than either British or subcontinental culture. Three times removed from a durable sense of identity, the energised extra-national worldview of radical Islam became one available identity for second-generation Pakistanis. . . .
The Muslim faith, with its attendant jihadi sensibility and Islamic supremacism, could not differ more from European Christians' beliefs. Seeing this contrast, many Muslims think Europe ripe for conversion and domination. Outrageous claims result, as from Omar Bakri Mohammed: "I want Britain to become an Islamic state. I want to see the flag of Islam raised in 10 Downing Street." Or from a Belgium-based imam: "Soon we will take power in this country. Those who criticize us now, will regret it. They will have to serve us. Prepare, for the hour is near."
AMERICAN COLUMNIST Ralph Peters dismisses the first scenario: "Far from enjoying the prospect of taking over Europe by having babies, Europe's Muslims are living on borrowed time. . . . predictions of a Muslim takeover of Europe . . . ignore history and Europe's ineradicable viciousness." Instead, depicting Europe as the place "that perfected genocide and ethnic cleansing", he predicts its Muslims "will be lucky just to be deported" and not killed. Claire Berlinski, in Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis Is America's, Too, implicitly agrees, pointing to the "ancient conflicts and patterns . . . now shambling out of the mists of European history."
This scenario has indigenous Europeans-who still constitute 95 percent of the population-waking up one day and asserting themselves. "Basta!" they will say and reclaim their historic order. This is not so remote; some Europeans, while scarce in the elite, loudly protest the changes already underway. Examples include the anti-hijab legislation in France, irritation over restrictions on national flags and Christian symbols and the insistence on serving wine at state dinners. In early 2006, several French cities saw a spontaneous movement to serve pork soup to the poor, thus excluding Muslims.
These are minor issues, to be sure, but insurgent anti-immigrant parties have emerged in many countries. They are beginning to demand not just border control but the expulsion of illegal immigrants-a whole European nativist movement has gone largely unnoticed. However meager its record so far, it has huge potential. These parties generally have neo-fascist backgrounds but are growing more respectable over time, shedding their anti-Semitic origins and dubious economic theories to focus on questions of faith, demography and identity. The British National Party and Belgium's Vlaams Belang offer two examples of such a move, and one day they could achieve electability. The 2002 French presidential race came down to Jacques Chirac and the neo-fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Other parties have already tasted power. Jörg Haider and the Freiheitspartei Österreich were briefly in officein Austria. In Italy, the Lega Nord was part of the ruling coalition for years. They will probably grow stronger, because their anti-Islamist and often anti-Islamic messages resonate. Mainstream parties will partially adopt their messages. (Denmark's Conservative Party offers a model; after 72 years in the wilderness, it returned to power in 2001 due basically to anger concerning immigration.) The inevitable immigration surge-perhaps including a mass exodus from Africa-will also likely benefit these parties.
Once in power, nationalist parties will reject multiculturalism and try to re-establish traditional values and mores. One can only speculate about their means and about the Muslim reaction. Peters dwells on the fascistic and violent aspects of some groups and expects an anti-Muslim backlash to take ominous forms. He even sketches a scenario in which "U.S. Navy ships are at anchor and U.S. Marines have gone ashore at Brest, Bremerhaven or Bari to guarantee the safe evacuation of Europe's Muslims."
For years, Muslims have worried about such incarceration and brutalization, followed by expulsion or even massacres. Already in the late 1980s, the late Kalim Siddiqui, director of London's Muslim Institute, raised the specter of "Hitler-style gas chambers for Muslims." Shabbir Akhtar warned in his 1989 book, Be Careful With Muhammad!, that "the next time there are gas chambers in Europe, there is no doubt concerning who'll be inside them." A character in Hanif Kureishi's 1990 novel, The Buddha of Suburbia, prepares for the guerilla war he expects after "the whites finally turned on the blacks and Asians and tried to force us into gas chambers."
But it is more likely that European efforts will be peaceable and legal, with Muslims-in keeping with recent patterns-initiating violence. Multiple polls confirm that about 5 percent of British Muslims endorse the 7/7 bombings. But however it happens, we cannot assume a European reassertion will take place cooperatively.
IN THE happiest scenario, Europeans and Muslim immigrants live together harmoniously. Perhaps the classic statement of this was a 1991 study, La France, une chance pour l'Islam ("France, an Opportunity for Islam") by Jeanne-Hélène and Pierre-Patrick Kaltenbach. "For the first time in history", they wrote, "Islam is offered the chance to waken in a democratic, rich, laic, and peaceable country." That hopefulness lives on. An Economist leader from mid-2006 asserts that "for the moment at least, the prospect of Eurabia looks like scaremongering." Also at that time, Jocelyne Cesari, associate professor of Islamic studies at the Harvard Divinity School, claimed a balance exists: Just as "Islam is changing Europe", she said, "Europe is changing Islam." She finds that "Muslims in Europe do not want to change the nature of European states" and expects them to adapt themselves into the European context.Essay Types: Book Review