“It is now obvious that Islam in Europe has not followed a process of Westernization; instead, the West becomes increasingly compliant to accommodate the religious and political norms of Muslim immigrants out of a fear of social unrest and terrorism.”
Well, if that is now obvious, even to those who mulishly continue to look away, it is only because there is no safe place, with jihadists besieging the continent in attacks separated by just days—sometimes just hours. But this grim diagnosis of the West’s submission to Islam is not a reaction to recent atrocities like the beheading of a British soldier on the streets of London, the mass-murder in Paris’s Bataclan concert hall, or the bombings at crowded transportation hubs in Brussels. It is, instead, the perspicacious analysis of Bat Ye’or, the great scholar of dhimmitude: the humiliating status of subordination imposed on non-Muslims by Allah’s domineering law, sharia—imposed, that is, on those non-Muslims not killed as a consequence of resisting Islamic governance.
Ye’or knew the hegemonic yearnings of supremacist Islam.
Ye’or wrote this passage about a phenomenon that she had already discerned nearly a decade before the international jihadist network now known as “the Islamic State” proclaimed its caliphate. The recent spate of terror was still beyond the horizon. Ye’or could not have known of the 143 attacks by which jihadists aligned with the Islamic State have killed 2,043 people in twenty-nine different countries since 2014 (according to a late July snapshot of cnn’s running count). She was unaware that, staggering as that casualty count seems, it does not include the tens of thousands of others killed in Syria and Iraq, the purported caliphate’s war-torn territory. She did not know at the time that the attacks in the greater global battlefield outside jihadist-held territory would now be coming at a clip of one every eighty-four hours—and thus that the numbers will surely have swelled by the time you read this.
Nevertheless, Ye’or had a firm grasp on the central truths. She knew the hegemonic yearnings of supremacist Islam, for which implementing sharia is the imperative and jihad merely the violent front line of a sophisticated aggressor force, pressing on every vulnerability of the societies it targets. And she knew the modern West, particularly Europe, in all its fecklessness. That is why Eurabia is the title she gave to the book that is home to her prescient passage.
There was no Islamic State then, let alone an isis or isil, acronyms that stand for the Islamic State of, alternatively, al-Sham (i.e., Greater Syria) or the Levant. Back in 2005, there was the progenitor: al Qaeda in Iraq (aqi), perhaps the most ferocious tentacle in Osama bin Laden’s global jihad. aqi is the franchise that waged jihad against America and its allies after the 2003 ousting of Saddam Hussein’s regime. It has never really stopped, in the interim provoking a savage Sunni–Shiite civil war, the ramifications of which have assured the failure of America’s Pollyannish quest to forge a Western-style democracy in an Arab sharia culture.
As is the wont of totalitarian movements, aqi split off from the mothership in a leadership dispute—mainly personality differences and tactical disagreements, but gussied up in Islamist circles as theological debate. The group became isis to reflect its main base of operations, which, at its high-water mark in 2014, comprised one-third of the territory of both Syria and Iraq—dominion over approximately nine million people on a landmass larger than the United Kingdom.
The caliphate has since lost about a quarter of its holdings due to stepped up (though still fitful) military operations by the United States, along with Russia’s forcible backing of jihadist Iran’s fight to prop up its client, the Assad regime. This has hardly been a boon for the West, however. As of this writing, isis still controls Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and important swaths of Syria, including the city of Raqqa, capital of the “caliphate”—in addition to spreading its wings in Libya, an ungovernable jihadist playpen since Obama’s disastrous intervention. The Syrian territory that isis has lost has been claimed by either the monstrous Assad or other of his rival Islamists, particularly jihadists aligned with al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood; in Iraq, it is Iran’s terror cells that fill the void. More imperiling are the many isis fighters who come to Syria and Iraq from the West. As the organization is squeezed, Western security agencies detect a jihadist diaspora: potentially thousands of trained, motivated terrorists returning to Europe—and some continuing on to the United States and Canada—to carry out attacks.
The Islamic State is still most familiar to the public as “isis,” the moniker under which it burst onto the global scene with serial acts of barbarism: decapitations, mass shootings, crucifixions, the torching or drowning of caged captives, mass abduction, and gang rape. These are publicized by the Islamic State’s first-rate propaganda and production shop, conjoining fundamentalist doctrine (in social media and Dabiq, its widely disseminated magazine) with slick videos of the organization’s grisliest depravities—which, sickeningly, make for powerful recruiting tools.
The formal abridgement of the name from isis to “the Islamic State” is pregnant with meaning.
Yet, while often overlooked, the formal abridgement of the name from isis to “the Islamic State” is pregnant with meaning. It conveys an outsize appetite to transcend its current borders and stand as the symbol of global Islamic aspirations.
This is what caliphates have historically been. It is what the last one, the Ottoman caliphate, remained until formally abolished in 1924 in a conclusive display of Atatürk’s determination to draw the curtain on political Islam. To Mustafa Kemal, the future of Turkey lay in Europe and the West, in secularism and enlightenment. As a Muslim shifting an overwhelmingly Muslim country away from sharia supremacism, he grasped the necessity of driving Islamic law from the political sphere, and even keeping it on a tight leash in private and spiritual life.
That is not today’s Turkey. It has taken an elected Islamist tyrant, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, only a dozen years to reverse Atatürk’s vision, to return Turkey to Dar al-Islam—the realm of the believers, which sharia supremacists distinguish from that of the infidels, Dar al-Harb or, tellingly, the realm of war.
The sad irony is that Erdoğan’s most effective weapon in re-Islamizing Turkey has been Europe itself: the irrational Islamophilia of its ruling class; its conflation of the ballot box with democratic culture (such that Islamist authoritarianism is preferable to liberty and minority rights, as long as it has got the votes); and its disdain of military participation in political affairs (notwithstanding the constitutional role of the Turkish armed forces as guardian of the secular democratic order). Erdoğan has shrewdly used the mirage of European integration—its demands for religious liberty and subordination of security forces to political officials—as a cudgel against his Kemalist opponents, breaking the bonds that harnessed Islam’s congenital aggression. Concurrently, he has banked on Europe’s cowardice, confident—justifiably so, it turns out—that the European Union would look the other way as he resuscitated sharia, persecuted dissenters, jailed journalists, and gave safe haven to his Muslim Brotherhood confederates, including their Palestinian jihadist wing, Hamas.
Like the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Erdoğan has the would-be caliph’s gleam in his eye. Each Islamist pursues the prize through different methods, but the methods are interdependent. They’d both vehemently deny that fact, of course, even as they swerve between de facto collusion and lethal confrontation, just as competing Islamists have done for over a millennium. Each man, moreover, represents a strand of sharia supremacism that seeks the conquest of Europe and, eventually, the United States (the “Big Satan” to Israel’s “Little Satan”).
Erdoğan’s most effective weapon in re-Islamizing Turkey has been Europe itself
At the moment, their side is winning, just as Bat Ye’or foresaw. Even before there was an Islamic State, she would have predicted, for example, that Europe and the United States would rely heavily on Islamist Turkey to combat the Islamic State, notwithstanding that Erdoğan had made Turkey a way-station for arming and training Islamist militants before allowing them to make their way to the jihad in Syria. Ye’or would also have anticipated the European Union and American diplomatic protocols that call for the Islamic State to be referred to as “Daesh,” the Arabic transliteration of the “isis” acronym. This, according to the politically correct substitute for thinking, denies the organization the theological legitimacy conveyed by “Islamic State.”
What it actually denies is our capacity to know the enemy. Imagine fighting the Cold War with a ban on the study of Karl Marx, or World War II with all mentions of Nazi ideology verboten. Unimaginable, of course. Yet the modern West—almost a quarter century after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, fifteen years after September 11, over a decade after commuter train explosions in Madrid and London, and in the midst of an unprecedented spate of jihadist strikes—persists in self-imposed ignorance. The ruling class does not wish to know what Islamists and their jihadist shock troops are trying to accomplish, with such fervor that many willingly sacrifice their own lives to take a few more of ours.
Anything to remain willfully blind.
Ye’or has been lonely but not alone among scholars of consequence. Bernard Lewis is the West’s authority nonpareil on the history of Islam and its intercourse with what, without smirk, used to be called “Christendom.” He envisions a Europe predominantly Islamic in character by the end of the twenty-first century. Startling, to be sure, but the truth is that Lewis may be a decade or three behind the curve. Not for want of grasping the dynamic of the struggle: the nonagenarian academic, sounding positively Huntington-like, warned in a recent interview that the survival of Western civilization requires knowing who our Islamist rivals are and, crucially, knowing who we are—with a firm resolve to preserve our way of life, rooted in Judeo-Christian principles and the enlightened dynamic of faith and reason.
But is it still our way of life? Ye’or detected a seismic shift after the 1973 oil crisis. At the urging of France and the Arab League, the European Economic Community sought a convergence between Europe and the Islamic states of North Africa and the Middle East. The resulting collusion between European opinion elites and an increasingly sharia-supremacist Arab-Muslim world was best exemplified by the Euro-Arab Dialogue. The partnership had two overarching results.
The first was the invention of what Ye’or aptly described as “a fantasy Islamic civilization and history.” In the context of the American government’s Islamophilia, I have dubbed the concoction “an Islam of their very own.” As Ye’or discerned, the point was to bleach away the extensive historical record of human-rights violations, especially against women and non-Muslims, under sharia. This fabricated construct immunized Islam, easing the way for European diplomatic, economic, and cultural ventures with dictatorial regimes.
The second was the inculcation into this partnership of contempt for America, Israel, Jews, Christians, and economic liberty. To lay this exclusively at the feet of the Arab-Muslim side would be a gross overstatement. While anti-Americanism in Europe was once assumed to be Soviet-inspired, Ye’or observed, “the collapse of the Communist system exposed other currents of anti-American hatred, manifested by Third-Worldists [and] neo-Communists,” as well as “Islamists reoriented into a powerful jihadist coalition against Western democracies.”
“An Islam of their very own.”
Though not representative of the views of most Europeans, the Euro-Arab political alliance punched well above its weight in shaping policy. The phenomenon underscores a theme I explored in The Grand Jihad (Encounter Books, 2010): Despite some significant disagreements (on, for example, abortion and the rights of women and homosexuals), supremacist Islam and the radical Left have a great deal of common ground. They are totalitarian, collectivist, hostile to individual liberty, intolerant of dissent, and known historically to cooperate against common enemies—particularly, Western liberalism and Western governments.
The new dominant ideology, euphemistically summarized in a word as “multiculturalism,” erodes the culture that made Europe identifiably Western. Naturally, it adopted a transformative open-borders policy that made it a perfect target for supremacist Islam’s real conquest strategy: voluntary apartheid.
We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America, not through the sword but through dawah.” So said Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the internationally renowned sharia jurist and Muslim Brotherhood eminence in a 1995 speech, the thrust of which he has repeated time and again in the ensuing decades. Dawah is Islam’s aggressive conception of proselytism. Though he couches it in non-violent terms, it is hardly that. Sheikh Qaradawi, after all, is a champion of Hamas, whose fatwas (sharia edicts) have endorsed suicide bombings against Israel and the jihad against American forces in Iraq. The concept is sometimes called “sharia encroachment” or “stealth jihad.” Its essence is to leverage the atmosphere of intimidation created by violent jihadism in order to extort concessions to Islam—just as Ye’or put it, the fear of social unrest and terrorism compels accommodation of Islamic norms.
The key to dawah is resistance to assimilation. Islamists encourage Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East to integrate into Europe without becoming part of Europe; to cling tightly to their Islamic mores, to compete with the host culture about which Europeans have become so indifferent. The idea of voluntary apartheid is to establish enclaves whose swelling Muslim populations pressure the host government to allow them to conduct their affairs in accordance with sharia and their own culture, irrespective of conflicts with domestic law. The enclaves become difficult if not impossible to govern, to the point that Islamists oppose the power of police, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and other agents of the state to enter.
Gradually, as enclave populations grow to critical mass and resistance to assimilation intensifies, sovereignty is effectively transferred. This is a critical development: in sharia supremacist ideology, once a territory belongs to Islam, it is Islam’s forever, obliging Muslims to wage “defensive” jihad against any who would wrest control. In Cologne in 2008, Erdoğan—the personification of the European Union–Islamist partnership—
addressed a 20,000-strong throng of mostly expatriate Turks resettled in Europe. “I can understand very well that you are against assimilation,” he told them. “One cannot expect you to assimilate. . . . Assimilation is a crime against humanity!”
It was in Cologne this past New Year’s Eve that scores of Muslim men, many of them recent immigrants, set upon groups of young women in a series of sexual assaults that the overwhelmed police presence was powerless to prevent. There were similar attacks in Stuttgart, Hamburg, and near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Such incidents, though rarely spoken of, have become common in Europe. It is aptly described as the “rape jihad,” a tactic of war that the Islamic State employs in Syria, and that Islamist militants use on the continent. And for the same reasons: to establish dominance, to force compliance with Islamic standards of female dress and subordination.
The key to dawah is resistance to assimilation.
In early August, the Pew Research Center reported that Europe had been deluged by 1.325 million refugees in 2015, nearly doubling the prior record set in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The migrant waves have been spurred by European Union leaders, particularly Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, a close ally of Erdoğan’s. They insist, as does the Obama administration in the United States, that the West has a duty to embrace those fleeing Islamic war zones. It apparently makes no difference to the ruling class that there is no way to vet these “refugees,” that they include a prodigious number of fighting-age Muslim men, and that the migrant swarms have undeniably been infiltrated by the Islamic State and other jihadist groups, anxious to move their war onto Western enemy territory.
This Pew report broke shortly after the bloodiest of Julys. A French-Tunisian jihadist sped his truck through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing eighty-four and wounding hundreds. A seventeen-year-old Afghan migrant was lauded by the Islamic State as “a soldier of the caliphate” for “attacking Crusader passengers with an axe and knife” on a train in Germany, wounding five people. Two nineteen-year-old men, the jihadist sons of Algerian immigrants, seized upon an eighty-five-year-old Catholic priest, Father Jacques Hamel, as he said Mass in a small seventeenth-century church in the suburbs of Rouen. They murdered him, slitting his throat while attempting to behead him on the altar.
On the same day as the Pew Report, the Islamic State published Dabiq magazine’s new “Break the Cross” issue, proclaiming the irrevocable Islamist abhorrence of Christians and Jews. As the jihadists explained in one article, entitled, “Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You”:
Your disbelief is the primary reason we hate you, as we have been commanded to hate the disbelievers until they submit to the authority of Islam, either by becoming Muslims, or by paying jizyah [the poll tax for dhimmis]—for those afforded this option—and living in humiliation under the rule of the Muslims.
Even if you were to stop bombing us . . . we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam. Even if you were to pay jizyah and live under the authority of Islam in humiliation, we would continue to hate you. No doubt, we would stop fighting you then as we would stop fighting any disbelievers who enter into a covenant with us, but we would not stop hating you.
The following day, The New York Times reported, based on the substantially corroborated confessions of a defector, that the Islamic State has a special security unit, known as “Emni.” It has dispatched hundreds of highly trained operatives to Europe, where they fan out across the continent, establish contact with existing support networks, and plot attacks. They have already had a hand in several atrocities, including those in Paris and Brussels.
The enemy is fighting a multi-pronged civilizational war: the mutual reinforcement of jihad and dawah on the battlefield, in legal campaigns, in media blitzes, and in the shaping of popular culture. In an enervated West, where our cultural heritage is in disrepute, there is little zeal to acknowledge—much less defend—the cross that the Islamic State vows to break. The jihad, in its savagery and massive population shifts, stokes pressure for accommodation. The European ruling class, heavily invested for over a generation in fantasy Islam and “moderate” Islamists, submits. The result is ever more immigration without assimilation, leading to more sharia enclaves—the breeding grounds for radicalization and jihadist recruitment. More jihad, and thus more accommodation, and thus . . . still more jihad.
To break the cycle and save the West would require a drastic change of course. The change could be driven only by a will annealed in the belief that we are worth saving. And time is growing short.