Migrant crisis adds to Europe’s anxiety about Islam

…. Europe’s refugee and migrant crisis is striking not just for the reluctance of most EU governments to open doors on the scale of 1956. A motif of cultural self-defence, of Europe as a Christian fortress justifiably barred to Muslim hordes, runs through their rhetoric.

Syria’s savage civil war has generated 4m registered refugees in the Middle East and beyond. But a person following Europe’s debate might wonder if the clock has reverted to 1529 and the armies of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman sultan, are at the gates of Vienna.

These anxieties are found in southern, central and western Europe. Socratis Hasikos, Cyprus’s interior minister, said unashamedly on Monday that his government would accept 300 refugees but wanted them to be Orthodox Christians; that is, of the same faith as Greek Cypriots.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] I am a brown man (non-Muslim) living in the West. And yet I am staunchly against the influx of Muslim people who might prove to be too great a strain on social cohesion, and who might have ISIS fighters lurking amongst them.

I might well offend the sensibilities of the more fragile types out there, but unlike some, I base my opinions on empirical and historical evidence.

Immigration only works if the immigrants are willing to adopt to the culture of their host nations.

[2ND] I am trying very hard throughout all this to retain compassionate and generous thoughts towards the migrants currently making their way in this direction.

However I have this nagging suspicion (as it would seem many others do) that those of us being persuaded to be tolerant and open now, will one day find that our children have to face a future in their own country where a vocal and homogenous minority (or even majority) may make extreme demands and be intolerant of them and their way of life, despite once having been refugees welcomed in and helped to rebuild their lives.

I am not sure we have the right to foist this sort of future on our chidren through our own naivety, and so we may need now to take military action and provide more help in the region to allow people of a fundamentally different culture and polity to remain there for the sake of future peace and harmony across both regions.

[3RD] OK, so this is the first FT piece on the subject that is actually slightly nuanced. So we are at least slowly moving in a more balanced direction.

Now, I’d like an opinion piece that straightforwardly makes the case for rejecting asylum for millions of Muslims. I would like it to be cogent, rational, and not driven by bigotry.

There is definitely a non-racist case to be made for why, based on empirical evidence and history, millions of more Muslims entering the EU would be damaging for European society. Not least because of Islamic hostility to Democracy (see: “Arab Spring”), laicité (see: lack of secular Muslim-majority countries), and freedom of expression (see: Charlie Hebdo).

Come on FT, you can do it. All I ask is for *one* piece that takes this angle. And that is not asking for much, considering that you have written at least ten so far arguing the opposite case.

[4TH] As a ‘cold war kid’ – who lived through a period where the world was steady and where nations had borders – I found the ostentatious welcome by some Germans of illegal immigrants into Munich alarming. Why?

Because after many decades of naive propaganda about multiculturalism it represented a total failure by many people to recognize, first, that a (cultural) invasion of sorts is occurring, and secondly, that such is likely to prove devastating to both enlightenment values and the cohesion of European societies.

[5TH] Its not just theocracy we’re affronted by, it’s rather the sentiment of moral superiority that these people have.

What repels us – yes, despite the foregoing – their attitudes to the inferiority of women, to productive effort, to personal status, to collaboration, to taking themselves soooo seriously, to absolutely no sense of live and let live, to the most shocking degree of shameless hypocrisy verging too often on outright mendacity, their callousness with each other and especially those they deem inferior or “tainted”, their sense of revenge, of blood money, of barbaric and cruel punishment, the ease with which they are gripped by uncontrollable rage, of their right to reserve authority to decide, and then neither act nor allow others to act, which we find offensive.

All of which you have to see with your own eyes in order to believe possible. So, if they change their mindset, maybe we can live together.

[6TH] Whereas objections to immigrants who are Hindu, Sikh or Chinese ( taken as a group in relation to their various traditional Chinese religious affiliations) could only be racist, objection to Muslims as a group of immigrants does have a rational non-racist basis.

The basic issue is if their religious practice (personal piety and observance apart) is compatible with fundamental assumptions of life in the modern West ( as are Hinduism, Sikhism, Chinese religions, etc).

There are major problems here – none of which justify treating Muslims as second class citizens in daily life or behaving unpleasantly towards them, but which should not be ignored out of some Guardianista Pollyanna view of the world. A non-exhaustive list:

a) The dress code imposed on/accepted by most Muslim women – even if residually present as just a headscarf – is a denial of a fundamental assumption that the sexes are equally free to express and present themselves in daily life. The Muslim code relates to differential obligations on women not to arouse sexual interest of the opposite sex, going far beyond a modesty code for both sexes, and seems to involve a proprietary interest in women by men.

b) Application of Sharia Law in civil matters, especially divorce etc, takes over from Western civil law.

c) Well-meaning attempts to facilitate Halal meat mean that in the UK, the UK law on slaughtering – reflecting our society’s view on treatment of animals- has no meaning any more

d) Most importantly – though most Muslims are not violent, a constant trickle interpret their sacred texts as enjoining the most violent and barbaric conduct – at the risk of major violence, consequent civil unrest and constant huge expense in security measures.

To be honest, if there were no Muslims, we would not invent them. There may be unpleasant racism in the Eastern European approach but there is also common sense.

[7TH] Sweden has probably had the most experience of Muslim immigrants. The people’s open attitude to immigration has largely evaporated in the past decade as a result of their evident unwillingness to integrate. There is now a great gap between the politicians and the public.

Amongst those most opposed to Muslim immigration are Christians from the Middle East, who now find themselves once again on the receiving end of what they have only recently fled from. The old-established Jewish communities in Sweden have also been hit hard by the influx.

The Jewish population of Malmö has mostly departed in the face of threats, violence and school bullying. The synagogues at Stockholm and Gothenburg have had to turn themselves in fortresses with tough security guards in attendance. With this influx, we have had to say goodbye to peaceful sleepy Sweden.

[8TH] I have no patience for racists or religious bigots either. But dismissing European concerns about the massive refugee move as motivated by racial or religious prejudice is a dishonest argument. In fact, it is no argument at all.

The post-WW2 history of Muslim and Arab migration to Europe is problematic. To be sure, European states and societies shoulder a big part of the blame. In France and Germany, Muslim migrants were never fuller accepted and alienation took root. Meanwhile, many migrants and their descendants have refused to acculturate into the larger society. Their refusal to accept democratic and liberal norms and acceptance of intolerant religious extremism is poisonous.

And now, some like Barber, argue that Europe ought to allow the transfer of literally millions of middle easterners from a sharply different political and religious culture. It’s an invitation to disaster. The solution is not to transfer Syria to Europe, but to resolve the crisis in Syria (and Iraq.) [Financial Times] Read more

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