dream on dopey denman

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    ..dream on. Think yourself lucky you live in a country that tolerates you. From The Times

    December 04, 2004

    Stoned to death... why Europe is starting to lose its faith in Islam

    By Charles Bremner

    Islamic fundamentalism is causing a 'clash of civilisations' between liberal democracies and Muslims

    DAYS before she was due to be married, Ghofrane Haddaoui, 23, refused the advances of a teenage boy and paid with her life. Lured to waste ground near her home in Marseilles, the Tunisian-born Frenchwoman was stoned to death, her skull smashed by rocks hurled by at least two young men, according to police.

    Although the circumstances of the murder are not clear, the horrific "lapidation" of the young Muslim stoked a French belief that the country can no longer tolerate the excesses of an alien culture in its midst.

    A few days ago, pop celebrities joined 2,000 people in a march through Marseilles denouncing violence against women, particularly in the immigrant-dominated housing estates. The protest against Islamic "obscurantism" and the "fundamentalism that imprisons women" was led by a group of Muslim women who call themselves Ni Putes ni Soumises (Neither Whores nor Submissive).

    The movement, which emerged three years ago to defend Muslim women, is spawning similar groups across Europe, supported by a mainstream opinion that has recently abandoned political correctness and wants to halt the inroads of Islam.

    From Norway to Sicily, governments, politicians and the media are laying aside their doctrines of diversity and insisting that "Islamism", as the French call the fundamentalist form that pervades the housing estates, is incompatible with EuropeÕs liberal values.

    The shift is not just a reaction to exceptional violence such as the Madrid train bombings, or the murder of Theo van Gogh, the anti-Islamic Dutch film-maker, by a Dutch-Moroccan. It stems from a belief that more muscular methods are needed to integrate EuropeÕs 13-million strong Muslim community and to combat creeds that breed extremists and ultimately, terrorism. With mixed results, governments are trying to quell the scourge by co- opting Muslim leaders to promote a moderate European Islam.

    In Germany, with its three million Ñ mainly Turkish Ñ Muslims, and France, with its five million of mainly North African descent, television viewers were shocked when local young Muslims approved of Van GoghÕs murder. "If you insult Islam, you have to pay," was a typical response.

    "The notion of multiculturalism has fallen apart," said Angela Merkel, leader of GermanyÕs Christian Democrat opposition. "Anyone coming here must respect our constitution and tolerate our Western and Christian roots." ItalyÕs traditional tolerance towards immigrants has been eroded by fear of Islamism. An Ipsos poll in September showed that 48 per cent of Italians believed that a "clash of civilisations" between Islam and the West was under way and that Islam was "a religion more fanatical than any other".

    Similar views can be heard across traditionally tolerant Scandinavia Ñ and no longer just from the populist rightwing partyÕs such as Pia KjaersgaardÕs PeopleÕs Party in Denmark. The centre-right Government of Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has equipped Denmark with EuropeÕs toughest curbs on immigration, largely aimed at people from Muslim countries. In Sweden, where anti-Muslim feeling is running high and mosques have been burnt, schools have been authorised to ban pupils who wear full Islamic head-cover, although the measure comes nowhere near FranceÕs new ban on the hijab in all state schools.

    In Spain, with a rapidly rising population of nearly a million Muslims, the backlash has been less visible despite the bombings, but thousands demonstrated in Seville this week against plans to build a mosque in the city centre. The Government has also won approval by sending 500 extra police to monitor preachers and Muslim associations.

    Police across the EU are closely watching prayer meetings in makeshift mosques in cities and housing estates, and media accounts of the jihadist, anti-Western and anti-semitic doctrines of the imams are fuelling public anger. In Germany, pressure is growing for sermons to be preached in German rather than Turkish or Arabic. Hidden TV cameras recently broadcast an imam in a Berlin mosque telling worshippers that "Germans can only expect to rot in the fires of hell because they are nonbelievers".

    The debate over the limits to free speech is loudest in France, which now acknowledges the failure of its "republican" approach to integration whereby immigrants were supposed to blend harmoniously into society and not exist in separate communities.

    Dominique de Villepin, the Interior Minister, is deporting foreign imams who support wife-beating and other uncivilised practices. This week the Government moved to ban a Lebanon-based television channel for anti-semitic broadcasting. The left wing, which long shunned criticism of Islam as the stock-in-trade of Jean-Marie le Pen, the far-Right leader, now denounces the "totalitarian", anti-feminist, antisemitic doctrines of the fundamentalists. Jacques Julliard, a leading left-wing commentator, said the LeftÕs longstanding tolerance had been used as "an agent for the penetration of Islamic intolerance".

    Some on the Left have also taken strong exception to the concept of "Islamophobia", a supposed sin defined by EU anti-racism watchdogs as akin to anti-Semitism.

    The French consensus was symbolised by the 80 per cent public support for the head-scarf ban, which started with little trouble in September. While many Muslims felt stigmatised, the Government took comfort from the approval of the ban by a substantial minority of the 10 per cent of the population that is of immigrant origin.

    Among them is Fadela Amara, a Muslim town councillor from Clermond Ferrand, who heads the Ni Putes, Ni Soumises movement. "The veil is an instrument of oppression that is imposed by the green fascists," she says. Mme Amara, who led the Marseilles march, advocates an "open Islam, an Islam of French culture a bit Gallic around the edges". This is also the aim of the state, which two years ago created a national Muslim Council to promote moderate mainstream Islam. The council was set up by Nicolas Sarkozy, the then Interior Minister, who now heads the UMP, President ChiracÕs centre-right party.

    M Sarkozy has just caused a stir by going a stage further, proposing that FranceÕs rigorously secular state fund the building of mosques. "Whether I like it or not, Islam is the second biggest religion in France. So you have to integrate it by making it more French," he said. To general dismay, however, the national council is coming increasingly under the effective control of radicals.

    Reluctantly, some intellectuals have lately concluded that the model for Europe should be the US. On Tuesday a writer for LibŽration, the French left-wing daily, noted that immigrants in the US threw themselves into "the American dream" and prospered. "There is no French, Dutch or other European dream," she noted. "You emigrate here to escape poverty and nothing more."

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