Daniel Pipes

Westerners are indeed waking up to this threat. One can get a vivid sense of trends by looking at developments in Europe, which on the topics of immigration, Islam, Muslims, Islamism, and Shari'a (Islamic law) is ahead of North America and Australia by about twenty years. One sign of change is the growth of political parties focused on these issues, including the U.K. Independence Party, the National Front in France, the People's Party in Switzerland, Geert Wilder's Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, the Progress Party in Norway, and the Swedish Democrats. In a much-noted recent by-election, UKIP came in second, increasing its share of the vote from 4 percent to 28 percent, thereby creating a crisis in the Conservative party.

Swiss voters endorsed a referendum in 2009 banning minarets by at 58-42 margin, a vote more significant for its ratio than its policy implications, which were roughly nil. Public opinion polling at that time found that other Europeans shared these views roughly in these same proportions. Polling also shows a marked hardening of views over the years on these topics. Here (with thanks to Maxime Lépante) are some recent surveys from France:

• 67 percent say Islamic values are incompatible with those of French society
• 70 percent say there are too many foreigners
• 73 percent view Islam negatively
• 74 percent consider Islam intolerant
• 84 percent are against the hijab in private spaces open to the public
• 86 percent are favorable to strengthening the ban on the burqa

As Soeren Kern notes, similar views on Islam appear in Germany. A recent report from the Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach asked what qualities Germans associate with Islam:

• 56 percent: striving for political influence
• 60 percent: revenge and retaliation
• 64 percent: violence
• 68 percent: intolerance toward other faiths
• 70 percent: fanaticism and radicalism
• 83 percent: discrimination against women

In contrast, only 7 percent of Germans associate Islam with openness, tolerance, or respect for human rights.

These commanding majorities are higher than in earlier years, suggesting that opinion in Europe is hardening and will grow yet more hostile to Islamism over time. In this way, Islamist aggression assures that anti-Islamism in the West is winning its race with Islamism. High-profile Muslim attacks like the ones in Boston exacerbate this trend. That is its strategic significance. That explains my cautious optimism about repulsing the Islamist threat.


Daniel Pipes

Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum.