In "Europe's Stark Options," I considered the future of the Muslim-European encounter and conclude there are three possible futures, "harmonious integration, the expulsion of Muslims, or an Islamic takeover." I then dismissed the first as unrealistic and stated that it is too early to predict which of the latter two unattractive possibilities will come to pass.
A reader, Chris Slater of Upper Hutt, New Zealand, writes me to predict a fourth outcome as most likely: "larger existing Muslim areas will re-create themselves into independent national entities" and "by the middle of the twenty-first century nearly all western European countries will be riven by the creation of Islamic city states within their borders. For the sake of brevity they will be referred to as 'microstates,' that is, autonomous conurbations defined by the Islamic beliefs of their citizens."
Slater foresees boundaries being formed "around existing Muslim centres of population, initially in France, Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, followed rapidly by Britain, Norway, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Spain. Dates for eastern European states, particularly Orthodox, may be more difficult to predict, although Russia, with 15 percent of its 143 million people professing Islam, may well lead many western European countries in having an independent Islamic state. By the end of this century this process will affect every non-Islamic state throughout the world."
These microstates will enjoy a "monopoly on legitimate violence," impose their own autonomous legal order, and form alliances among themselves. They will feature such Shar'i customs as polygyny, no-interest finance, huddud punishments, Islamic ways of dress, family "honor" codes, bans on criticism of Islam, and so on. Arabic and the dominant immigrant vernacular will enjoy more currency than the host country's language. Street names will be changed, statues removed, churches and synagogues converted to mosques.
Slater sees this outcome this as "the only way to avoid the destruction of both the national cultures and, indeed, European civilization from total domination by the cultures of Muslim immigrants."
Comments: (1) I prefer "Muslim autonomous zones" to "Muslim microstates."
(2) To a certain extent, these autonomous zones already exist. For the French situation, see my analysis at "The 751 No-Go Zones of France."
(3) It's a plausible vision but I think the tensions between these microstates and the larger, Christian-origin polities will lead to the same two outcomes I have predicted, the expulsion of Muslims or a Muslim takeover. The microstate option implies a certain statis and stability but I expect things to remain dynamic: the Islamic polities will either grow and dominate or they will shrink and disappear. Perhaps some will dominate and others disappear. I cannot envisage a stable order along the lines Slater sketches out. Indeed, Slater's point about this arrangement providing the only way to avoid the destruction of European civilization tacitly acknowledges the inherent tensions: either old-stock Europeans will manage to hold their own or they will succumb. A compromise, middle way strikes me as highly unlikely.
(4) That said, this scenario of Muslim autonomous zones has no less likelihood than that of harmonious integration, so if that is listed, so should this one. (January 12, 2009)
Feb. 28, 2009 update: Russia is an Orthodox Christian country with an indigenous Muslim population, so it differs in profound ways from most of Europe, but still, the emergence of an autonomous Chechnya could have implications for the rest of the continent. The Associated Press ran a story today, "Chechen leader imposes strict brand of Islam," that gives details about the rule of President Ramzan Kadyrov, 32, a former militia leader: He
is carrying out a campaign to impose Islamic values and strengthen the traditional customs of predominantly Muslim Chechnya, in an effort to blunt the appeal of hardline Islamic separatists and shore up his power. In doing so, critics say, he is setting up a dictatorship where Russian laws do not apply. Some in Russia say Kadyrov's attempt to create an Islamic society violates the Russian constitution, which guarantees equal rights for women and a separation of church and state.
Ramzan Kadyrov, 32, president of Chechnya, an autonomous Muslim zone within Russia.
But the Kremlin has given him its staunch backing, seeing him as the key to keeping the separatists in check, and that has allowed him to impose his will. "Kadyrov willfully tries to increase the influence of local customs over the life of the republic because this makes him the absolute ruler of the republic," said Yulia Latynina, a political analyst in Moscow.
Kadyrov's bluster shows how confident he is of his position. "No one can tell us not to be Muslims," he said outside the mosque. "If anyone says I cannot be a Muslim, he is my enemy." Few dare to challenge Kadyrov's rule in this southern Russian region of more than a million people. … Kadyrov describes women as the property of their husbands and says their main role is to bear children. He encourages men to take more than one wife, even though polygamy is illegal in Russia. Women and girls are now required to wear headscarves in all schools, universities and government offices. …
Kadyrov inherited his position from his father, Akhmad Kadyrov, a Muslim cleric and former rebel commander who fought the Russians during Chechnya's war of independence in 1994-1996. Shortly after war broke out again in 1999, the elder Kadyrov switched sides and brought Chechnya back into Moscow's fold. Ramzan Kadyrov worked as the head of his father's security force, which was accused of kidnapping, sadistic torture and murder. After Akhmad Kadyrov was killed by a terrorist bomb in 2004, power passed to his son.
Vladimir Putin, then president and now prime minister, embraced the younger Kadyrov, who has succeeded in ending a wave of terror attacks that haunted the early years of Putin's presidency. But as Kadyrov has consolidated his power, many of his critics and political rivals have been killed. Some have been gunned down on the streets of Moscow, including journalist Anna Politkovskaya, whose death in 2006 shocked the world. …
The Kremlin appears willing to continue allowing Kadyrov to rule as he wishes, as long as he prevents another outbreak of violence. And Kadyrov has won the grudging respect of many Chechens for bringing a measure of peace and stability. "People want to believe that things are getting better," said Sakaeva. "They are tired of war."
July 21, 2011 update: Soeren Kern writes of "Britain's 'Islamic Emirates Project'" for the Hudson Institute:
A Muslim group in the United Kingdom has launched a campaign to turn twelve British cities – including what it calls "Londonistan" – into independent Islamic states. The so-called Islamic Emirates would function as autonomous enclaves ruled by Islamic Sharia law and operate entirely outside British jurisprudence. The Islamic Emirates Project, launched by the Muslims Against the Crusades group, names the British cities of Birmingham, Bradford, Derby, Dewsbury, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, Sheffield, as well as Waltham Forest in northeast London and Tower Hamlets in East London as territories to be targeted for blanket Sharia rule.
Posters appearing in British cities announcing "You are entering a Shariah controlled zone, Islamic rules enforced."
July 28, 2011 update: More details and pictures at "'No porn or prostitution': Islamic extremists set up Sharia law controlled zones in British cities" in the Daily Mail by Rebecca Camber.