Saturday, January 31, 2004


Why not ship back to their ancestral countries Muslim minority-members who hate the West? Why continue to inflict on them the pain of living among us?

"The swiftness of Kilroy's demise points to something more than a simple scrap over political correctness. It's a symptom of a new European reality: surging growth among Muslim populations and establishment nervousness over how to deal with them - a nervousness that threatens to stifle much-needed debate over events in the Middle East and Muslim integration at home.

Western Europe's 15 million-strong Muslim community is growing in power and size. The birthrate among Muslims in Europe is three times that of non-Muslims. While the Muslim population could double by 2015, the non-Muslim population is expected to shrink by 3.5 per cent.

As this community grows, it is also flexing its political muscle. As the columnist Mark Steyn, writing in defence of Kilroy in the right-leaning "The Daily Telegraph", put it: "When free speech, artistic expression, feminism and other totems of Western pluralism clash directly with the Islamic lobby, Islam more often than not wins."

This would not be a problem if it weren't for the distressing but unavoidable reality that small but significant sections of that growing Muslim community are either outright hostile to or at least ambivalent toward Western values.

A survey conducted by the ICM polling agency and published in December 2002 showed that more than 10 per cent of Britain's 1.5 million Muslims believed that further attacks by al-Qaeda on the United States would be legitimate, and 8 per cent supported such attacks against Britain...

Muslim groups have combined with and helped re-energise a European left that is to a significant degree defined these days by a complementary hostility to the US and to Israel - both of which the left sees as representative of the worst excesses of capitalism and imperialism. That hostility is shared by substantial sections of the Muslim community, more than 80 per cent of which voted for Labour in Britain's 1997 general elections. Both elements of this new partnership are highly sensitive to any criticism of Islam, seeing in it de facto justification for the policies of governments they implacably oppose.

Alongside this political alliance stands a powerful centre-left establishment - epitomised by the BBC itself - that is also unremitting in its hostility to Israel and broadly sympathetic to the Arab and Muslim cause, for reasons that some attribute to rising anti-Semitism, others to post-imperial guilt, and many more to an anti-Americanism that appears to grow stronger by the day.

Thus it is that Tom Paulin, a left-wing Oxford academic and poet and a regular contributor to the BBC, could, in 2002, say to an Egyptian newspaper about Brooklyn-born Jews living on the West Bank: "I think they should be shot dead. I think they are Nazis, racists. I feel nothing but hatred for them," and get away with it, suffering no sanctions of any kind from the same BBC that silenced Kilroy.

Paulin's outburst reveals how smoothly anti-Israeli prejudices slip into anti-American clothing - it is "Brooklyn-born" Jews who are marked for death. Anti-Americanism is the acceptable face of European bigotry in a way that anti-Semitism is not.

On a continent whose face is rapidly changing, and where memories of the Holocaust are fading fast, new rules of engagement are emerging: you upset the Muslim community at your peril, but the social and political consequences of alienating the much smaller and much more assimilated Jewish communities are negligible"

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