The establishment of the European Union, along with the West’s fascination with multiculturalism, has led to the dismantling of native-Europeans’ cultural and religious identities, and has sparked an uprising among European youths—Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
In his essay, “The Islamic Ghost Haunting Europe,” adapted from the recently published book, Europe’s Ghost: Tolerance, Jihadism, and the Crisis in the West, the late Michael Radu, who authored 14 books and was co-chair of the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Center on Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism, and Homeland Security, describes how the European Union is succeeding in stripping citizens of their national identities as they yield to the demands of Islamic extremists.
Native-Europeans, who witness increasingly lax punishments for criminal activity and the abandonment of the Christian faith as a stabilizer for moral and cultural values, continue to be impacted by the EU and the education systems’ desire to “dilute national identities” in exchange for “tolerance,” and are searching for their place in society by joining nationalistic political movements and “… xenophobic parties a la Le Pen’s Front National,” Radu said. Whereas Muslim youths, who feel disenfranchised by European societies and governments, are looking to radical imams for guidance and purpose for their lives.
To find validation for their beliefs, these groups only have to flock to the Internet to find radical leaders who amass a devoted audience online. Although the Internet doesn’t create radicals, as Radu said, it is, and has been, a tool successfully used by extremists who “…offer the disaffected and alienated Muslim youths of Europe an ‘explanation’ and a ‘solution’ to their problems.”
As these groups hope to reclaim the identities they believe they were denied, second- and third-generation Muslims in Europe “…who cannot read or understand the Quran, accept in its entirety—the Salafi interpretation of it—because it gives them an identity and a goal: to fight the infidel ‘other.’ Doing so conveniently gives them a reason to reject a system they cannot or will not adapt to, and offers even the most ordinary petty criminal, be he a Muslim from birth or a convert, the opportunity to feel part of a large, indeed global, struggle…”
Radu explains that the West’s naïve notions about multiculturalism has, in effect, been a factor that has enabled Islamic extremists to flourish in Europe and allowed radicals to utilize financing from Europe’s welfare states to promote its growth.
“Multiculturalism in the West is widely practiced as tolerance, encouragement, and indeed subsidization of an archipelago of mutually incompatible, often mutually hostile, ethnic islands in countries which— until a few decades ago—were relatively homogeneous. Thus, traditions, practices, and habits alien to Europe—polygamy, female genital cutting (FGM), honor killings—are, if not tolerated, at least not systematically punished. … Europe’s ruling circles see that as less important than ‘respect’ for Islam. Their ignorance of Islam is never pointed out by national Islamic umbrella groups. Instead, the accusations from those circles are that Westerners choose not to understand Islam for ‘racist’ reasons. [T]here are persistent Egyptian, Moroccan, Tunisian, and Algerian complaints about European tolerance of Islamists who are ensconced in Europe’s welfare states while working hard to subvert the present regimes of their countries of origin.”
This idea of multiculturalism, along with the West’s attempts to ignore the correlation between radical Islamic beliefs and terrorism, led Radu to point out the pitfalls of such actions, and note that: “… as the CEO of Al-Arabiyya courageously put it, ‘while most Muslims are not terrorists, most terrorists today are Muslims.’”
With declining birth rates among native-Europeans and an estimated 20 million Muslims living in the West, many from non-secular countries—Algeria, Pakistan, Morocco and Syria—an increasing number of Muslims are finding their identity in the views espoused by radical imams. “It is in this context that an important debate has been taking place within ‘mainstream Islam,’ between the Swiss-based moderate Tariq Ramadan, strengthened by his genealogy (he is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood), and the Qatar-based Islamist Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Muslim Brother and very influential among Muslim leaders in Europe and European leftists. In fact, the case of Tariq Ramadan is very important, since he is one of the most influential Muslim intellectuals in the West.
“The debate is between extremes—the Salafis, gaining ground among the alienated ‘Muslim’ second-generation youth in Europe, and moderate, integrated Muslims with no voice and few ideologists, like Ramadan and Bassam Tibi. Considering the growth of Islamist terrorism based in Europe, it appears that the former are winning hearts and minds everywhere.
It should be noted that those who have studied Ramadan’s writings and statements in several languages would dispute his “moderate” credentials.
Radu added that “the most important obstacle to transatlantic cooperation against Islamism remains cultural. And that is a problem that no ‘good will’ or new governments and attitudes, whether in Washington or in the capitals of Europe, can change quickly.”
He concluded his essay with advice to U.S. citizens and the nation’s current and future leadership: “For the United States, and especially its political leaders, the fact that Europe struggles with its identity—and has even been an incubator for Islamist terrorism—should be a wakeup call. The Atlantic Ocean is wide. Nonetheless, European ghosts have a way of crossing the ocean.”