Friday, June 25, 2010

Slumbering Europe Beginning to Awaken to Islamist Threat

Is Europe Awakening to Islamist Threat?
By Barry Rubin,
June 25, 2010

The political situation in Europe today is quite different from the stereotype of a continent hostile to the United States (even if Obama is personally popular) and Israel, appeasement-oriented toward Iran and revolutionary Islamism, and eagerly multicultural and politically correct.

True, it is more oriented in that direction than North America, but there is a real struggle afoot.

In many countries — notably the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Germany, and to a slightly lesser extent the United Kingdom and France — the partisan gap between the left and center-right marks a boundary of much greater significance than a decade or two ago. Although each situation is different, the parties of the left tend to be more anti-American and anti-Israel and less alert to the threat of revolutionary Islamism, as well as favor continued large-scale immigration and big-state, big-spending policies.

Take the Netherlands as a case study. After elections last month, the parties of the center-right hold 83 seats, while those of the left have 67. Since there are ten parties in parliament, talks to form a coalition government will last for weeks, especially since the two largest have only twenty percent each. In the elections, only three seats changed hands between blocs.

But the big news was the shift within the center-right — the rise of the People’s Party for Freedom (PVV) led by the controversial Geert Wilders, which almost tripled its presence from 9 to 24 seats. To his enemies, almost no epithet is too extreme to throw at Wilders. The flamboyant Wilders has been outspoken in opposing immigration, especially that of Muslims, making a sharp critique of political Islamism and sometimes Islam itself.
What is Wilders’ program? First, a sharp limitation on asylum seekers admitted into the country, and none from Muslim-majority states. No dual nationality, no new mosques, no separate Islamic schools, no wearing of burqas, and no government subsidies for Islamic media. Mosques where violence is propagated will be closed. Heavy punishment for female circumcision. For their first ten years in Holland, immigrants receive no social benefits or citizenship. At the end of that period, those with no criminal record will receive full citizenship.

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