Saturday
September 20, 2014

As I see it

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A hundred thousand souls

Fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria.
By James Neilson
For the Herald
Life was never easy for minorities in the Muslim world, which now includes tracts of Europe, enclaves in the US

Dozens, sometimes hundreds, of people are brutally slaughtered every day in Nigeria, the Middle East and Pakistan, without Westerners taking much notice of the butchery unless a “right-wing” European or, better still, an Israeli Jew might have been involved. That is why the murder of an Arab youngster soon after three Jewish teenagers met the same fate attracted worldwide attention. Before any hard evidence became available, it was widely assumed that the lad had been killed by vengeful Jewish “settlers” and that therefore the Israelis were just as bad, if not far worse, than the rampaging thugs of Boko Haram, Hamas, ISIS, that is the caliphate, and the equally ferocious gangs that are active just about everywhere between West Africa and the Philippines. Overlooking the possibility that the murder was the work of a non-Jewish criminal, Obama administration heavyweights such as John Kerry and the UN’s Ban Ki-moon expressed their heartfelt horror at what had happened, as, needless to say, did the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas, a man who is well known for his humanitarian sentiments.

All this public indignation is very moving, but it does make one wonder just how these admirable people feel when they hear, as they do most mornings, that several hundred more Nigerians, Pakistanis, Syrians or Iraqis have been killed, adding to the already enormous death toll brought about by the internecine conflicts that are tearing apart much of the Islamic world. It would seem that, as far as they are concerned, it is none of their business. Most are reluctant to get emotionally involved by taking sides. That is one reason why they welcome a chance to stick it to the Israelis: unlike the holy warriors who keep slaughtering others for incomprehensible reasons allegedly related to events that took place many centuries ago, they can be judged by modern Western criteria and found wanting.

If the more fervent Islamists have their way, Europeans and even North Americans may soon find themselves up against the kind of pressure Jews have been under day after day for well over two millennia in which they have lived surrounded by people who regard them as expendable. As what is currently happening in the Middle East and elsewhere is reminding us, life has never been easy for minorities in the Muslim world which, for good or ill, now encompasses fairly large tracts of Europe and has enclaves in North America. Encouraged by the deeds of the holy warriors who a short while ago announced they had restored “the caliphate”, members of terrorist cells are busily preparing a new offensive against the unbelievers who live in what they call “the House of War”.

In the UK, France and other countries, the security services are nervously awaiting the return of hundreds of presumably battle-hardened young men from Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan or Pakistan. Will they all settle down quietly to work as doctors, computer programmers, shopkeepers or whatever they did before joining up, as it were? Some may, but others surely will not.

The holy warriors are ambitious. As well as wanting to overthrow governments in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and many other Muslim countries, they aim to reconquer territory in Europe that once belonged to Islam: much of the Balkans, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Sicily (plus Rome, for what it symbolizes), and Spain, starting with Andalusia. Should Israel fall, Spain would find itself at the top of the Jihadists’ hit list, a thought the many anti-Semitic Spaniards should bear in mind.

As far as most Westerners are concerned, the holy warriors’ aspirations are ridiculously exaggerated. They chuckle to themselves when Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who says he is the new Caliph, tells them he is going to turn the clock back a thousand years or so; Europe may no longer be home to several world-class military powers, but it is surely strong enough to deal with a horde of barbarians. That may prove to be the case, but before the jihadists understand that it would be worse than useless for them to try waging an urban guerrilla war against Europe, a great many extremely unpleasant things could happen.

The results of the recent European elections, in which movements such as France’s National Front made significant gains, suggest that public opinion is changing fast. Marine Le Pen’s party owed its success to her undisguised hostility toward the approximately six million Muslims who live in her country. Along with her, most Europeans seem to have come to the conclusion that the great “multicultural” experiment carried out by the progressive elites has failed dismally but there is not much they can do about it.

However, should terrorist attacks become more frequent and far bloodier than they have been up to now, relations between the Muslim communities and the rest could deteriorate to such an extent that mass expulsions, like the one that followed the war between Greece and Turkey in the early 1920s, would no longer be unthinkable. To avoid such a tragic outcome, the Europeans would have to stamp down very hard on Islamic militancy, treating it as severely as would the French or Germans should they feel threatened by a major neo-Nazi outbreak, while they still have time to do so without provoking large-scale communal strife.

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