Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Islamic Netherlands?

Rapid demographic changes are taking place in the Netherlands:

According to the latest available data, Muslim immigrants number almost 1 million, including 300,000 Moroccans, and now account for 6 percent of the Dutch population of 16 million. A recent government study indicated that by 2010 the large cities such as Rotterdam, Amsterdam, the Hague, and Utrecht will have Muslim majorities. The Dutch Muslim community is already an increasingly large and visible presence, and in Amsterdam alone there are more than 100,000 Muslims: 13 percent of the city's population.

Being late to notice the problem, the Dutch are trying to find a solution:

What the peace-loving Dutch people find most frightening about the assassination of Theo van Gogh is that it seems not to have been act of a single deranged individual, but in all likelihood the accomplishment of a terrorist plan, as part of a wider strategy aimed at intimidating the opponents of Islam and thus stifling freedom of expression. Seen from that perspective, the killing is not a single violent act, but perhaps the first assault in an overall offensive on Western-style democracy and the rule of law.

After the murder, Deputy Prime Minister Gerrit Zalm observed that the event signaled “the arrival of jihad in the Netherlands.” He acknowledged that the government has been caught napping, since “the increase in radicalization is worse than we had thought.”

Belatedly the Dutch government plotted its response. Immigration minister Rita Verdonk announced the government would work to “isolate” Islamic extremists, starting with a crackdown on immigrant fundamentalists. Foreign-born Muslims suspected of involvement in terrorist activities would be stripped of their Dutch nationality; the most radical Islamic web sites would be closed down; mosques at which the faithful were incited to jihad would be closed. But Hirsi Ali is not content simply with addressing the threat of Islamic terrorism. Having been brought up as a Muslim in Somalia—where she was subjected to female circumcision, and escaped an arranged marriage only by fleeing to the Netherlands in 1992—she has become at the age of 34 a veteran campaigner against the treatment of Muslim women. She advocates a tough clampdown on Muslim men who abuse the women in their families, and the complete eradication of such barbaric practices as the "honor killings" of Muslim women whose purity is—or is believed to be—compromised. There are many battered Muslim women who cower at the sound of their husbands' names, she contends, and rape victims who are then killed by their own relatives because they are deemed to have dishonored their families. Hirsi Ali, then, has become a critic not only of Islamic terrorism but of Islam itself. And although she is an immigrant herself, she advocates a tougher approach to the latest arrivals in the Netherlands. She faults the former Dutch Labor government for its policy of promoting the preservation of Muslim identity by subsidizing special schools and clubs. “The solution is to end the practice of teaching immigrants in their own language,” she says, adding that the government should also "stop the financial contributions to the 700-plus Muslim clubs—which are run by fanatics who perpetuate the segregation and degradation of women."

How political correctness made the problem worse:

This situation is sparking furious polemics and many Dutch now make the observation that their country's tradition of tolerance had suppressed a much-needed open debate about the challenges involved in integrating Muslim immigrants into the European way of life. Some observers go further, saying that the problem stems from the obsessive political correctness that has gone hand in hand with the gedogen tradition. “We have had problems with Moroccan boys for 20 or 30 years,” Herman Vuijsje, the Dutch author of several books on immigrants, told the International Herald Tribune (November 8); “but it was completely impossible to complain about it because you were accused of being a racist.” Therefore, as the paper pointed out, for years it was taboo in the Netherlands even to discuss racial or religious conflicts, let alone to advocate sending foreigners home. Now the murder of van Gogh—added to that of the outspoken anti-Muslim politician Pim Fortuyn before him (see below)—has uncorked the pent-up frustration that has been built up through decades of enforced silence.

The belief that Muslims would assimilate into Dutch society is proving to be quite foolish:

In a September interview with the London Telegraph, Hirsi Ali revealed that at the main mosque in Rotterdam, Muslim men were lining up to buy their copies of Sheikh Abu Bakr Jabir al-Jasairi's book, The Muslim Way, which argues that homosexuals should be thrown off rooftops and, should they survive, stoned to death. The author confirms the right of Muslim men to beat their disobedient wives, railing against the emancipation of women. His tome is a best seller among the Muslims of the Netherlands. So it seems that whereas someone who opposed immigration in the Netherlands, even on the ground that the little country was "already full," could be prosecuted for racism up until quite recently, no judicial authority was prepared to act when the "hate speech" came from the imams. Through their years of gedogen, the social and political leaders of the Netherlands—as, indeed, of Europe in general—had sown the seeds of their own future troubles.


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