Day By Day

Sunday, February 12, 2006

European Opinion is Shifting

Surveying the range of commentary coming out of Old Europe one gets the sense that a turning point has been reached. The cumulative effects of the Madrid bombings, the London bombings, the French riots, and now the organized attempt to impose restrictions on the free press seem to have brought about a change in perspective across wide swathes of Western society.

In the Times of London Richard Woods and David Leppart argue that the current unrest has resulted from an unwillingness of authorities to stand strongly in the past for Western values. [here]

In the conservative Telegraph Nonie Darwish explains that Muslims have been "brought up to hate."

In school in Gaza, I learned hate, vengeance and retaliation. Peace was never an option, as it was considered a sign of defeat and weakness. At school we sang songs with verses calling Jews "dogs" (in Arab culture, dogs are considered unclean).

Criticism and questioning were forbidden. When I did either of these, I was told: "Muslims cannot love the enemies of God, and those who do will get no mercy in hell." As a young woman, I visited a Christian friend in Cairo during Friday prayers, and we both heard the verbal attacks on Christians and Jews from the loudspeakers outside the mosque. They said: "May God destroy the infidels and the Jews, the enemies of God. We are not to befriend them or make treaties with them." We heard worshippers respond "Amen".

My friend looked scared; I was ashamed. That was when I first realised that something was very wrong in the way my religion was taught and practised. Sadly, the way I was raised was not unique. Hundreds of millions of other Muslims also have been raised with the same hatred of the West and Israel as a way to distract from the failings of their leaders. Things have not changed since I was a little girl in the 1950s.

Read it here.

And in the left-wing Guardian Martin Kettle writes:

Too many haters of capitalism and the United States still cram everything into the frame of untruth and self-deception that says my enemy's enemy is still my friend because, even if he blows up my family on the tube, murders my colleagues on the bus or threatens to behead me for publishing a drawing, he is still at war with Bush, Blair and Berlusconi. It is 50 years this month since that simplistic view of the world lost whatever moral purchase it may once have had. It is time such thinking was, to choose a sadly appropriate word, purged. Too long, my brothers and my sisters, too long.

Read it here.

Here we have, from all across the British political spectrum, a common rejection of Muslim demands and a determined affirmation of Western values.

Here's Sonia Mikich writing in die tageszeitung:
Zealots are nailing veils onto the faces of my sisters in Afghanistan and Pakistan and are busy hanging women, homosexuals, adulterers and non-believers.

But human rights, women's rights and the right to liberty are the most exalted in the history of humanity; this is the tradition in which I was raised. Values that make the world better and more peaceful.

I demand that the governments of Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Indonesia and Egypt apologise to me. Otherwise I am unfortunately forced to threaten, beat up, kidnap or behead their citizens. Because I am somewhat sensitive about my cultural identity.

I feel offended.
Ouch! Read it here.

Accompanying this widespread defiance of Islamic demands is a growing sense of solidarity throughout much of Europe. What has changed, I think, is that it is no longer possible for elites to dismiss popular rejection of Islamic values as simple uninformed bigotry. Such blatant intimidation tactics as we have seen have made it clear that a significant proportion of the world's Islamic population adheres to values that are essentially opposed to core aspects of Western culture. This is not just protest against Bush and Blair -- it is an open assault on Western culture and it cannot be ignored or appeased.

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