Our German correspondent Markus recently wrote an email to Daniel Pipes in reference to an open question they discussed when the latter was in Berlin a couple of weeks ago. With Markus’ permission, I am posting the text of his email below:
Problem Islam — or problem Islamism? Do we have the right to risk a one-time experiment?
I wish people were right who state that it is only necessary to worry about Islamism, and not about large Muslim populations in Western societies — but I doubt it.
Now, even if large Islamic portions of society could be seen as unproblematic, there has to be some strategy to avoid relevant tendencies towards radicalisation.
The complexity of the question thus evolves around the following points:
- What strategies are proposed to inhibit/contain radical tendencies that tend to flourish in large Muslim populations?
- Has this strategy ever sustainably worked in real life (see e.g. Lebanon, the rapidly re-Islamizing Turkey, or the incredible events in England around Remembrance Day)?
- Is such a strategy unnecessary? If so, why?
- What if this strategy (or the lack thereof) goes wrong? This question, and the topic as a whole, is crucial. It is basically the (intellectual) question of war and peace in our times, whatever form those may take.
I may clarify that I am fully aware that:
a) Islam as an ideology is the problem, not people of Islamic faith. Muslims themselves were, in the great majority, born into their religion and thus had no choice. Moreover, leaving Islam often leads to harsh consequences, from being socially excluded, through death threats, right up to murder. It is thus not their individual fault. Even more so since the supply of independent information about “infidel culture” and liberal democracy is not easy to spread inside Islamic communities. b) The Cold War, for instance, although a massive confrontation, was fought and ended (relatively) peacefully. Nevertheless, in such a confrontation clear and decisive measures, including deterrence, would have to be taken and enforced in order to contain and roll back a totalitarian Islam.
My worries are based on the following assumptions:
a) Due to the self-imposed segregation of a respectable portion of the Muslim population — and thus the non-exposure to modern, liberal concepts of societies — groups of fundamentalist, Quran-based ideologues will almost unavoidably appear. b) Even more so since frustrated humans with low self-esteem can find solace and a false self-esteem in the idea that they are “better Muslims” and thus “better people” if they adhere more closely to the teachings of the power-hungry guy they call their prophet. This tendency to a false self-(over)-confidence at the expense of unbelievers is further enhanced by the counter-individualistic submission-aspects of Islam and the tribal, clan-like culture transported by it.
The attempt/hope to construct a secular, liberal “Euro-Islam” in our times should be viewed with extreme caution.
This experiment can only be performed once!
Current developments do not hint at success. At stake are peace and the further existence of a free, civilized society in Europe, and thus 2500 years of development and emancipation of free people and free societies.
A closer look at societies worldwide, especially the Islamic ones, clearly shows that it is a folly to take the European case for granted as the natural state of affairs in human societies.
The responsibility to hand over this precious (and costly) gift of civilization we inherited to future generations is far too important to rely solely on luck in this unpromising one-time-experiment.
Markus blogs at Zivilisationscourage.