Eurabian Nights

March 1, 2007 Topics: Civil SocietyReligionSociety Regions: Northern EuropeEurope Tags: IslamismIslam

Eurabian Nights

Mini Teaser: Europe and its Muslims face three possible futures.

by Author(s): Daniel Pipes

Such optimism has little foundation, but not so much because Europeans will rediscover faith, have more babies, cherish their heritage, encourage non-Muslim immigration and acculturate the Muslims among them. Such changes are not now underway, nor are their prospects good. Instead, harmony is unlikely because Muslims cultivate grievances against, and hold ambitions at odds with, their indigenous neighbors.

Worryingly, each generation appears more alienated than the last. Canadian novelist Hugh MacLennan dubbed his country's English-French split the "Two Solitudes"; one sees something similar, but far more pronounced, developing in Europe. Polls of British Muslims, for example, find that a majority perceive a conflict between their British and Muslim identities and want Islamic law. We can dismiss the possibility of Muslims accepting the confines of historic Europe and smoothly integrating.

University of Göttingen professor Bassam Tibi, who has often warned that "Either Islam gets Europeanized, or Europe gets Islamized", has given up. Recently, he announced that he is leaving Germany after 44 years for Cornell University in the United States.

AS AMERICAN columnist Dennis Prager writes, "It is difficult to imagine any other future scenario for Western Europe than its becoming Islamicized or having a civil war." Indeed, these two deeply unattractive paths appear to define Europe's choices, with powerful forces pulling in both directions.

Europe: an extension of North Africa, or at war with its own minority? The decisive events have yet to take place, so one cannot make the call. They are fast approaching, however. Within the next decade or so, today's flux will end, the Europe-Islam equation will harden and the continent's course should become apparent.

Both paths are historically unprecedented. Never has a population collapse caused a massive civilization shift, and never has a people risen on so grand a scale to reclaim its patrimony. Europe's predicaments are difficult to understand, tempting to overlook and nearly impossible to predict. Europe marches us all into terra incognita.


Daniel Pipes ( is director of the Middle East Forum and a visiting professor at Pepperdine University. This article is adapted from a talk for the Woodrow Wilson Center conference "Euro-Islam: The Dyna

[1] Cited in Koenraad Elst, "The Rushdie Rules", Middle East Quarterly, June 1998.

Essay Types: Book Review