By Soeren Kern
December 29, 2011
As the rapidly growing Muslim population makes its presence felt in towns and cities across the continent, Islam is transforming the European way of life in ways unimaginable only a few years ago.
What follows is a brief summary of some of the more outrageous Islam-related controversies that took place in Europe during 2011.
In Austria, an appellate court upheld the politically correct conviction of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a Viennese housewife and anti-Jihad activist, for "denigrating religious beliefs" after she gave a series of seminars about the dangers of radical Islam. The December 20 ruling showed that while Judaism and Christianity can be disparaged with impunity in postmodern multicultural Austria, speaking the truth about Islam is subject to swift and hefty legal penalties.
Also in Austria, the King Abdullah Centre for Inter-Religious and Inter-Cultural Dialogue was inaugurated at the Albertina Museum in downtown Vienna on October 13. The Saudis say the purpose of the multi-million-dollar initiative is to "foster dialogue" between the world's major religions in order to "prevent conflict." But critics say the centre is an attempt by Saudi Arabia to establish a permanent "propaganda centre" in central Europe from which to spread the conservative Wahhabi sect of Islam.
In Belgium, it was revealed that Muslims now make up one-quarter of the population of Brussels, according to a new book published by the Catholic University of Leuven, the top French-language University in Belgium. In real terms, the number of Muslims in Brussels -- where half of the number of Muslims in Belgium currently live -- has reached 300,000, which means that the self-styled "Capital of Europe" is now the most Islamic city in Europe.
Also in Belgium, the most popular name in Brussels for baby boys in 2011 was Mohammed. It was also the most popular name for baby boys in Belgium's second-largest city, Antwerp, where an estimated 40% of elementary school children are Muslim.
Separately, the Islamist group Sharia4Belgium intensified a propaganda and intimidation campaign aimed at turning the country into an Islamic state. In September, the group established an Islamic Sharia law court in Antwerp, the second-largest city in Belgium. Leaders of the group say the purpose of the court is to create a parallel Islamic legal system in Belgium to challenge the state's authority as enforcer of the civil law protections guaranteed by the Belgian constitution.
In Britain, a Muslim group launched a campaign to turn twelve British cities -- including what it calls "Londonistan" -- into independent Islamic states. These so-called Islamic Emirates would function as autonomous enclaves ruled by Islamic Sharia law and operate entirely outside British jurisprudence.
Separately, it was revealed that more than 2,800 so-called honor attacks -- punishments for bringing shame on the family -- were recorded by British police last year, according to the first-ever national estimate of the problem. The highest number of honor crimes -- which include murder, mutilation, beatings, abductions and acid attacks -- was recorded in London, where the problem has doubled to more than five times the national average.
The data comes on the heels of another report which shows that tens of thousands of Muslim immigrants in Britain are practicing bigamy or polygamy to collect bigger social welfare payments from the British state.
The September 24 report shows that the phenomenon of bigamy and polygamy -- which are permitted by Islamic Sharia law -- is far more widespread in Britain than previously believed, even though it is a crime there, punishable by up to seven years in prison.
The rapid growth in multiple marriages is being fuelled by multicultural policies that grant special rights to Muslim immigrants who demand that Sharia law be reflected in British law and the social welfare benefits system.
Meanwhile, a Christian worker in Britain filed a lawsuit after losing her job when she exposed a campaign of systematic harassment by fundamentalist Muslims. In a landmark legal case, Nohad Halawi, a former employee at London's Heathrow Airport, sued her former employer for unfair dismissal, claiming that Christian staff members, including her, were discriminated against because of their religious beliefs.
Halawi's case is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), an organization that provides legal support for Christians in the United Kingdom. CLC says the case raises important legal issues, and also questions over whether Muslims and Christians are treated differently by employers.
In Denmark, a Muslim group launched a campaign to turn parts of Copenhagen and other Danish cities into "Sharia Law Zones" that would function as autonomous enclaves ruled by Islamic law. The Danish Islamist group Kaldet til Islam (Call to Islam) said the Tingbjerg suburb of Copenhagen would be the first part of Denmark to be subject to Sharia law, followed by the Nørrebro district of the capital and then other parts of the country.
Call to Islam said it would dispatch a 24-hour Islamic "morals police" to enforce Sharia law in those enclaves. The patrols would confront anyone caught drinking alcohol, gambling, going to discothèques or engaging in other activities the group views as running contrary to Islam.
Also in Denmark, the city council of Copenhagen approved the construction of the first official "Grand Mosque" in the Danish capital. The mega-mosque will have a massive blue dome as well as two towering minarets and is architecturally designed to stand out on Copenhagen's low-rise skyline.
Unlike most mosques in Europe, which cater to Sunni Muslims, the mosque in Copenhagen pertains to Shia Islam. The mosque is being financed by the Islamic Republic of Iran; critics say that theocrats in Tehran intend to use the mosque to establish a recruiting centre for the militant Shia Muslim group, Hezbollah in Europe.
Meanwhile, the president of the Denmark-based International Free Press Society, Lars Hedegaard, was found guilty of racist hate speech for comments he made about Islam. He was ordered to pay a fine of 5,000 Danish Kroner (about $1,000). Hedegaard's legal problems began in December 2009, when he remarked in a taped interview that there was a high incidence of child rape and domestic violence in areas dominated by Muslim culture.
Although Hedegaard has insisted that he did not intend to accuse all Muslims or even the majority of Muslims of such crimes, and although he was previously acquitted by a lower court, Denmark's thought police refused to drop the case until he was found guilty.
The European Union, bowing to pressure from Muslim lobby groups, quietly abandoned a new measure that would have required Halal (religiously approved for Muslims) meat products to carry a label alerting consumers that the animals were not stunned, and therefore conscious, just before slaughter.
With the exponential growth of Europe's Muslim population in recent years, thousands of tons of religiously slaughtered Halal meat is now entering the general food chain, where it is being unwittingly consumed also by the non-Muslim population.
The EU decision shows that Muslims have the right to choose Halal foods, but non-Muslims do not have the right to choose not to eat the ritually slaughtered meat.
In France, it was revealed that Islamic mosques are being built more often than Roman Catholic churches, and that there now are more practicing Muslims in the country than practicing Catholics.
Separately, Muslim groups in France asked the Roman Catholic Church for permission to use its empty churches as a way to solve the traffic problems caused by thousands of Muslims who pray in the streets. The request, which was variously described by French political commentators as "alarming," "audacious" and "unprecedented," was yet another example of the growing assertiveness of the Muslims in France.
In October, it was also reported that the country's decrepit city suburbs are becoming "separate Islamic societies" cut off from the state, according to a major new study, "Banlieue de la République" (Suburbs of the Republic), that examines the spread of Islam in France.
Muslim immigrants are increasingly rejecting French values and identity and instead are immersing themselves in Islam, according to the report, which also warned that Islamic Sharia law is rapidly displacing French civil law in many parts of suburban Paris.
The authors of the report show that France, which has between five and six million Muslims (France has the largest Muslim population in European Union), is on the brink of a major social explosion because of the failure of Muslims to integrate into French society.
France's much-debated "Burqa ban" entered into force in April. The new law, which prohibits the wearing of Islamic body-covering Burqas and face-covering Niqaabs in all public spaces in France, came amid rising frustration that the country's estimated 6.5 million Muslims are not integrating into French society.
In Germany, it was revealed that thousands of young women and girls in Germany are victims of forced marriages every year. Most of the victims come from Muslim families; many have been threatened with violence and even death. The revelations shocked the German public and added to the ongoing debate in Germany over the question of Muslim immigration and the establishment of a parallel Islamic society there.
Also in Germany, a best-selling book published in September revealed that the spread of Islamic Sharia law in Germany is far more advanced than previously thought, and that German authorities are "powerless" to do anything about the Muslim shadow justice system in Germany.
The book says Sharia courts are now operating in all of Germany's big cities. This "parallel justice system" is undermining the rule of law in Germany because Muslim arbiters/imams are settling criminal cases out of court without the involvement of German prosecutors or lawyers before law enforcement can bring the cases to a German court.
Separately, the number of potential Islamic terrorists currently living in Germany jumped to around 1,000, according to new information provided by the German Interior Ministry.
In Greece, the Parliament approved a controversial plan to build a taxpayer-funded mega-mosque in Athens. The move came amid thinly veiled threats of violence by thousands of Muslim residents of the city who have been pressuring the government to meet their demands for a mosque or face an uprising.
In Holland, it was revealed that 40% of Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands between the ages of 12 and 24 have been arrested, fined, charged or otherwise accused of committing a crime during the past five years, according to a report commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Interior.
In Dutch neighbourhoods where the majority of residents are Moroccan immigrants, the youth crime rate reaches 50%. Moreover, juvenile delinquency among Moroccans is not limited to males; girls and young women are increasingly involved in criminal activities.
The "Dutch-Moroccan Monitor 2011" also revealed that most of the Moroccan youth involved in criminal activities were born in Holland. This implies that the children of Moroccan immigrants are not integrating into Dutch society, and confirms that the Netherlands is paying dearly for its failed multicultural approach to immigration.
Also in Holland, a mob of Islamists stormed a debate in Amsterdam that was featuring two Muslim liberals, the Canadian writer and Muslim feminist Irshad Manji and the Dutch-Moroccan Green Left MP Tofik Dibi.
The December 8 debate on how liberal Muslims can prevent Islam from being hijacked by Muslim extremists was held at the De Baile venue in downtown Amsterdam, and was sponsored by the Brussels-based European Foundation for Democracy. The event resumed after police arrested several of the Islamists.
The incident highlighted the increasing frequency with which Muslims are using intimidation tactics -- including harassment and even murder -- in an effort to silence free speech in Europe and to impose Islam on the continent.
On a positive note, a court in Amsterdam acquitted Geert Wilders -- the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party who had denounced the threat to Western values posed by unassimilated Muslim immigrants -- of charges of inciting religious hatred against Muslims for comments he made that were critical of Islam.
In June, the Dutch government said it would abandon the long-standing model of multiculturalism that has encouraged Muslim immigrants to create a parallel society within the Netherlands.
In Italy, it was revealed that 44% of Italians are prejudiced or hostile towards Jews, according to a new research study released by the Italian Parliament on October 17. The report, titled "Final Document: Investigation on Anti-Semitism," was commissioned by the Committee for the Inquiry into Anti-Semitism of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Italian Parliament. The 50-page document shows that anti-Semitism in Italy is also being fomented by Muslim immigrants who have established links with left-wing and right-wing extremists to carry out attacks on local Jewish communities, synagogues, schools and cemeteries.
In Spain, Muslims were accused of poisoning dozens of dogs in Lérida, a city in the north-eastern region of Catalonia that has become ground zero in an intensifying debate over the role of Islam in Spain. All of the dogs were poisoned in September in Lérida's working class neighbourhoods of Cappont and La Bordeta, districts that are heavily populated by Muslim immigrants and where many dogs have been killed in recent years. Local residents say Muslim immigrants killed the dogs because according to Islamic teaching dogs are "unclean" animals.
Also in Spain, two radical Islamic television stations began 24-hour broadcasting to Spanish-speaking audiences in Spain and Latin America from new studios in Madrid. The first channel, sponsored by the government of Iran, will focus on spreading Shiite Islam, the dominant religion in Iran. The second channel, sponsored by the government of Saudi Arabia, will focus on spreading Wahhabi Islam, the dominant religion in Saudi Arabia. The inaugural broadcasts of Islamic television in Spain were deliberately timed to coincide with the Christmas holidays, and represent yet another example of the gradual encroachment of Islam in post-Christian Spain.
In Sweden, police in the third-largest city, Malmö, reported a significant uptick in the number of reported anti-Semitic hate-crimes perpetrated by Muslim immigrants against Jews in 2011. The data came as the Swedish government on September 20 set aside 4 million kroner ($600,000) to help boost security around the country's synagogues, after accusations that Sweden has not done enough to protect its Jewish population.
Sweden has been accused of complacency about the growing problem of anti-Semitism in the country and the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre advised Jews to avoid travelling to southern Sweden.
In Switzerland, where the Muslim population has more than quintupled since 1980, a Muslim immigrant group based in Bern called for the emblematic white cross to be removed from the Swiss national flag because as a Christian symbol it "no longer corresponds to today's multicultural Switzerland."
Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group.