Growing Muslim population in Europe affecting political, social landscape

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PARIS:  Former French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said that the situation could become irreversible within five years.

He was referring to the rising tide of violence resulting from Muslim immigration. If his calculations are correct, France only has a few years “to avoid the worst.”

Significant social change usually takes place over the course of many decades, but sometimes gradual trends enter into an acceleration phase, and massive social transformations take place in a matter of years.

Likewise, the Islamization of several major European states has been a gradual process. But there are signs that this trend is now set to accelerate.

After a 9/11-style plot was recently foiled by French intelligence services, the new Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner, revealed that 60 such attacks had been foiled since 2013.

Meanwhile, 235,000 complaints for rape or attempted rape were filed in 2018; this was 62,000 more than in 2016, and an astonishing 225,000 more than in 2005.

Likewise, The 2004 Madrid bombing, which killed 192 people, was carried out by North Africans, mostly Moroccans, who were residents in Spain, but some, reportedly, had links with a Moroccan terrorist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

Three of the four perpetrators of the 2005 London attacks were home-grown, second-generation British Muslims trained in Pakistan.

Merah, the French terrorist who killed three soldiers and three Jewish youth in Toulouse, and those who assassinated Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists and Jewish shoppers were second-generation French Muslims of Algerian descent.

Moreover, some young Muslim jihadists who join ISIS in Syria and Iraq are born and educated in European countries, and many of them are even European Muslim converts.

Charles Gave, an economist who published an article on “The Demographic Suicide of Europe,” wrote that within thirty years, France will submit to Islam.

While the French are engaged in their quick-time march to Islamization, a similar phenomenon is occurring in the U.K. The British have been in appeasement mode for a long time. For more than a decade, police and other authorities turned a blind eye to the activities of Muslim grooming gangs who were responsible for the rape and prostitution of thousands of teenage girls in towns and cities across the English Midlands.

On the other hand, authorities were quick to prosecute the handful of “Islamophobes” who called attention to the crimes. Tommy Robinson, for example, was arrested on at least four occasions.

Back on the home front, Islamic activist groups such as CAIR, ISNA, and MAS made a great deal of headway under the Obama administration. At the behest of Muslim pressure groups, John Brennan ordered the FBI (then headed by Robert Mueller), the Department of Defense, and other agencies to purge their training programs of any materials that might suggest that Islam was anything other than a model cultural-religious system.

At the same time, many Muslim activists were placed in influential and sensitive government positions, including some in Homeland Security. And many are still embedded in the Deep State.

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown during a visit to Islamabad said that 75 percent of serious terrorist plots aimed at Britain was connected to Pakistan. The Harvard Kennedy School agrees: “Most significant terror plots in Great Britain since 9/11 have had a Pakistan-based connection.”

The result of this cynical policy of allying with the radicalized elements of the Islamic world is that British born and raised jehadis of Pakistani origin have hit the headlines globally on numerous occasions.

The latest is Usman Khan, the knife-wielding terrorist who stabbed to death a young British man and woman near London Bridge.

Khan was a convicted Islamist terrorist, recently released from prison after serving just half of his 16-year sentence for an earlier plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange and pubs in Stoke, the town where he was born.

Before his arrest in 2010, Khan was a member of a cell inspired by the al-Qaeda terrorist organization.

Government restrictions on religion have increased worldwide over the past decade but particularly in Europe, a new study by the Pew Research center has found.

The Washington-based think-tank surveyed 198 countries for its latest annual report into religious restrictions and found that over the decade between 2007-2017, laws, policies and actions by state officials that restrict religious beliefs and practices have increased “markedly”.

It highlighted that although religious restrictions remain higher in the Middle East-North Africa region, the biggest increases over the last decade have been in Europe and in sub-Saharan Africa.

It flagged, for instance, the growing number of European governments placing limits on Muslim women’s dress. In 2007, there were five countries reported to have such restrictions in Europe, by 2017, that number had quadrupled to 20.

France implemented a ban on full-face coverings in 2011, while in Bosnia-Herzegovina, employees of judicial institutions are prohibited from wearing “religious insignia” at work, including headscarves.

The number of European governments interfering in worship or other religious practices has also risen. The report noted in Germany and Slovenia, Muslim and Jewish groups protested against authorities describing child circumcision for nonmedical reasons as assault or criminal offense.

Pew also flagged Spain as having experienced the largest increases in its score for government limits on religious activity. Catalonia introduced bans on the burqa and niqab, while religious groups such as Latter-day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses have faced restrictions on public preaching and proselytizing.

“There is a paradox: while European societies are very secular and have a growing number of people declaring themselves to be without religion, more and more legislation is being passed to regulate religious practices,” French sociologist Jean-Paul Williams said.

But policies are not the only problems flagged by the Pew study. Social hostilities related to religious norms also rose dramatically in Europe.

Four countries in 2007 reported having individuals or groups who used violence or the threat of violence to try and force others to accept their own religious practices and beliefs.

A decade later, there were 15 countries including the United Kingdom — where a Sunni Muslim man killed an Ahmadi Muslim shopkeeper because he had “disrespected the Prophet Muhammad”.

Ukraine was also included in this list — in 2015, four Jehovah’s Witnesses were beaten and held at gunpoint in the country until they declared Orthodox Christianity as the only true religion.

Germany was found to have the highest score measuring violence related to religious norms in 2017.

Sociologist Thomas Schirrmacher estimated in a US government report, cited in Pew’s study, that thousands of conversions to Christianity in Germany were linked to the refugee crisis.

Religious groups reportedly used fear of deportation to promote conversions offering free lunch and transportation costs as incentives, according to the report.

Assaults on individuals have also increased with 25 European countries reporting such hostilities in 2017, compared to just six a decade earlier.

Willaime explained this, in part, by saying that the regular practice of religion is “often misunderstood or even equated with fanaticism” because it has become almost non-conformist to practice in Europe, where the majority of the population no longer does.

However, the presence of some 25 million Muslims in the 28 countries of the European Union, some 5% of the total European population, is currently sparking debate, controversy, fear, and even hatred. Never before have we witnessed such a climate of mutual suspicion between Muslims and mainstream European societies.

Public opinion surveys in Europe show increasing fear and opposition to European Muslims, who are perceived as a threat to national identity, domestic security, and the social fabric. Muslims, on the other hand, are convinced that the majority of Europeans reject their presence and vilify and caricature their religion.

At the popular level, anti-Islam sentiment is also dramatically increasing, as revealed by a special study on Islam by Bertelsmann Foundation (2015). Taking Germany as a case study, the 2014 public opinion survey shows the following alarming percentages: 57% of Germans believe that Islam poses a threat; 61% are convinced that Islam is incompatible with the West; 40% say that “because of Islam I feel as a stranger in my country”; and 24% think that Muslims should not be allowed to immigrate to Germany.

An October 2012 YOU GOV survey in England also revealed that 49% agreed that there would be a clash of civilizations between Muslims and native white Britons.

The vast majority of these Muslims came seeking work and they were needed as they worked in sectors usually referred to as “difficult, dirty and dangerous”.

In the 80’s, they started to be perceived not as Immigrants from Morocco, Pakistan or Turkey but as “Muslims”, eventually threatening the social fabric of European societies.

The terrorist attacks by tiny groups of Islamist fanatics and the radicalization of “thousands” of native Muslim Europeans added fuel to the surging anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe. Unless there is a simultaneous effort by immigrants to better integrate in European societies and by European Societies to show openness, tensions may become worrisome.

Southern European countries were particularly exposed to irregular migration. At the beginning, Spain, Italy, Greece and Malta were transit countries and “stepping stones” for other destinations. But later, in the 1990s, they became countries of final destination for waves of irregular migrants.

They recognize that the total Muslim population is projected to jump from 25 to 35 million between 2015 and 2035. Currently, the Muslim population is 6.3% in the UK, 6.1% in German, 6.9% in Austria, 8.1% in Sweden and 8.8% in France.

They invoke both internal and external factors. Among the internal factors, they pinpoint the higher fertility rates among Muslim Women and the fact that the Muslim population is younger: people under the age of 30 represent 50% of the Muslim population in 2015, compared with about 33% in the non-Muslim European population.

They also argue that Muslim women marry in larger numbers and at younger age and divorce less than their non-Muslim counterparts.

Yet, in spite of the projected increase in Muslim demographics in the EU, in no European country will the Muslim population exceed 10% of the total population by 2035, with the exception of France and Belgium.

One school of thought adopts a culturalist view, which links terrorism, jihadism and extremism to the Islamic religion itself. For its proponents, violence is consubstantial to Islam since most of the modern conflicts are taking place in Muslim countries and since the majority of terrorist groups are Muslims, such as al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Somali Al-Shabab, etc.

When the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) took over the last parts of ISIS-held territory in early 2019, they were forced to detain tens of thousands of the group’s followers. Among them were several hundred men, and a larger number of women and children, from European countries.

As the SDF did not have the capacity to process such a huge number of captives, it held them in a series of improvised prisons and vast, overcrowded refugee camps. In the last six months, the Kurdish administration has called repeatedly for more international help in dealing with these people.

But European countries have done almost nothing to take responsibility for their citizens: Italy has taken back a single fighter, while other EU member states have repatriated only small numbers of children.

On the other hand, U.S. President Donald Trump clashed on December 3, 2019, with French President Emmanuel Macron over the repatriation of Daesh/ISIS terror group fighters currently held in northeastern Syria.

Speaking to reporters during a NATO leaders summit in London U.S. President Trump continued his criticism of Europe’s reluctance to take back its nationals, saying foreign fighters detained in Syria “are mostly from Europe.”

He then turned to Macron and asked if the French president would “like some nice ISIS fighters?”

“I can give them to you. You can take everyone you want,” Trump said before Macron quickly rebuffed the U.S. president, saying “let’s be serious.”

“A very large number of fighters you have on the ground are fighters coming from Syria, Iraq and the region,” Macron said. “It’s true that you have foreign fighters coming from Europe, but this is a tiny minority of the overall problem that you have in the region.”

Macron’s words are backed by the U.S. assessment of the roughly 10,000 detained Daesh terrorists currently held in Syria.

James Jeffrey, Trump’s envoy to the anti-Daesh coalition, said Aug. 1 that roughly 80% of the detained fighters are from Syria, or Iraq. The rest, he said, are from other countries, including some in Europe.

Trump later tempered his criticism following a lengthy pushback from Macron, acknowledging “France has actually taken back some fighters.”

“But we have a lot of fighters. We captured a lot of people,” he said, emphasizing the U.S.-led coalition’s defeat of Daesh’s territorial hold in Iraq and Syria.

Trump has long pushed for European nations to take back nationals, whether they fought for Daesh or were family members associated with the terror group. But Europe has been reluctant to heed the call amid security concerns tied to their repatriation.

(with inputs from Agencies)

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