Readers of my blog (dianawest.net) know that over this past week, as a maelstrom of buffeting economic crises has sucked the air out of the news atmosphere, I have been all-but-transfixed by events unfolding in the German city of Cologne. With the unabashed fascination of the rubbernecker, I have watched in horror, combing online foreign press reports and a few favorite blogs (Brussels Journal, Gates of Vienna, Atlas Shrugs), as local authorities yielded their charge of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly -- indeed, yielded civic space and civic peace -- to a lawless band of violent leftists, who, in their weekend stint of mob rule, successfully prevented a political rally against the Islamization of Europe from taking place.
What's more, these same authorities, including the mayor of this fourth-largest German city (about 1 million people), yielded to the mob happily and with much self-congratulation. Indeed, Cologne Mayor Fritz Schramma called the episode "a victory for the city of Cologne and a victory by the democratic forces of the city."
Schramma may well count squelching peaceful political discourse with a violent mob as a victory for his city, but there is nothing "democratic" about it, or about the "forces" responsible. This twisting, weasel-use of language, however, is only one example of the campaign of disinformation waged against reality in Cologne this past weekend.
In brief, elected officials from several different countries (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy), politicians who campaign and win elections on the politically incorrect issue of resistance to the spread of Islamic law (Sharia), were invited to speak in Cologne.
Why Cologne? After a long and contentious battle, the city council last month narrowly approved the construction of a giant mosque complex funded by a group called the Turkish-Islamic Union to serve some portion of the city's 120,000 Muslims. While the American take on any house of worship going up is generally one of approval based on a straightforward belief in freedom of religion, in Europe, given the heavy influx of Islamic populations, there is a political and legal dimension to such mosque construction that we just don't recognize here. For example, Germany's Muslim population is largely Turkish; and it is Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is infamous for having said in 1998, "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers." Such a declaration of, well, religious war from someone who is now a head of state adds the threat of conquest to any serious mosque debate.