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The Paralysis of Europe

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The massacre in Paris of the staff of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo was an act of terrorism, but also a successful act of war in the clash of civilizations between Islamism and the West.


Nor were we lacking for warning signs.

In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, a license to kill author Salman Rushdie for his anti-Muslim novel "Satanic Verses."

Danish cartoons of the Prophet with his turban in the shape of a bomb caused riots across the Middle East. Charlie Hebdo published them. The vulgarian Theo Van Gogh was carved up alive on a street in Amsterdam for insulting Islam in his 10-minute film "Submission."

Have we not known that millions of Muslims now take their faith so seriously they will die for it, and kill for it? Mock and insult Islam, ridicule and lampoon the Prophet, and you risk your life.

The editor and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo knew this. Their offices had been firebombed. They had guards. There was a combination lock on their office doors.

Shocked by the slaughter, we of the West have been reasserting our belief in freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

"Je Suis Charlie!" read the signs at the Paris demonstration for Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday night -- "I am Charlie."

One sees no such banners in the Islamic world. Regimes there may deplore terrorism in Paris, but no one weeps for Charlie Hebdo.

For across that region, Islamism is rising, churches are being burned, and the remaining Christians are fleeing into exile. In Afghanistan, at the peak of the U.S. presence, a Muslim convert to Christianity was threatened with death and had to leave his own country in fear of his life.


If there is one goal that unites Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabab in Somalia, al-Qaida in the Maghreb and Arabian Peninsula, ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is to cleanse their societies of non-believers and Westerners.

The journalistic freedom to trash Islam and the moral imperative to advance gay rights may be sacred causes in Europe. But one should probably put them on the back burner when crossing the Med.

The differences between a liberal secularized Europe and the Islamic world are irreconcilable. And it is their world, not ours, that is growing in numbers, militancy, converts, crusaders and confidence.

Yet, what was German Chancellor Angela Merkel bewailing in her New Year's message? Islamophobia.

Demonstrations in Dresden against the 200,000 asylum seekers who entered Germany from an inflamed Middle East last year, and the difficulty of assimilating them and the four million Muslims already in Germany have ignited weekly protests.

Do not go to these rallies of Pegida -- Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West -- railed Merkel, for their organizers have "prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their hearts."

Immigration is a "gift for all of us," said Merkel.

Merkel's attack on rising anti-immigrant sentiment in Germany was echoed on New Year's by President Francois Hollande who denounced the "dangerous" stances of the National Front of Marine Le Pen.


In presidential polls in France, Le Pen is now running first.

Instead of demonizing the right, Merkel and Hollande and other leaders of Europe, if they do not wish to be swept away, ought to ask themselves: Why have these populist and anti-immigrant movements exploded on the continent in recent years at their expense?

Europe's elites appear frozen in a dead past, addicted to an idea of Europeans inexorably melding into a single economic and political entity, like the United States, to become the model for the world.

They seem in denial of the new realities exploding on the continent. Scots, Basque, Catalans, Bretons, Corsicans, Flemish and Piedmontese now want to separate from the nations to which they have belonged for generations; parties like the UK Independence Party as well as the National Front want out of the European Union.

In Central and Eastern Europe, the autocratic nationalism of Vladimir Putin is being cheered by many of these emerging parties.

In Greece, the leftist Syriza Party appears on the precipice of taking power this month. What unites and propels it is hostility to austerity policies imposed by a German-dominated eurozone. The same animosities spawned Podemos in Spain. Rebellion against the idea of One Europe is rampant.


Europeans are asking direct questions of their governments, and demanding answers:

Why, when our own economics are stagnant, do we need all these new immigrants with whom we have little in common?

Why are we altering the identity of our people and nation?

What gain is there for our countries by bringing in more Arabs, Muslims and Africans to swamp our native born and remake our nations in their image rather than our own?

Often, the response to such questions from governments in Berlin, Paris, London and Madrid is to call the defectors xenophobes, racists, neo-fascists and Nazis. The name-calling is no longer working.

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