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and to you Sidda

Reader comment on item: Europeans Fleeing Eurabia
in response to reader comment: Van Gogh:' America is the last beacon of hope in a steadily darkening world'

Submitted by Niels (Spain), Mar 9, 2006 at 11:02

Hi Sidda, I read your response with great interest, thanks again. Your point about the ottoman empire is of course totally correct, but I was hinting on the ottomans in their heyday, before they got eclipsed by other powers and their erstwhile tolerance got severely corrupted by the ugliest kind of nationalism and the genocide this eventually spawned in the last years of the empire´s existence.

There had been massacres before as well, as in Chios ,Bulgaria, and againt the armenians before in the 1880´s..I know, I should have stressed my point, but when they could still afford it ,they where quite tolerant indeed.

I don´t deny the Quran ,if followed literally ,does not incite to the use of violence, but then again I´m against scriptures of any kind ,as I mentioned (I guess the term "infidel" technically does apply to me, my parents chose not to baptize me so I could choose my own creed if I wanted to later on..closest I ever came to religion was actually judaism while I had a relationship with a jewish girl and the question was ,very subtlely, put forward if I would one day be willing to convert). So I really do lack the knowledge to parallel your comments on this( dare I say it ,you know your enemy well..)

" To address a couple of your other points, poverty cannot be used as an excuse for Islamic extremism. If it were only poverty, why do we not see Guatemalans, Haitians, or Hindus from Calcutta waging "jihad"? Why do you see only Muslim suicide bombers in Palestine, and not Christian Palestinians? "

True, non-muslims lack the all-binding framework of islam ,and it´s origins as a militant religion. Sidda, I´m not disagreeing with you about the alledgedly dangerous nature of islam, islamic fundamentalism is our common enemy since it aims to destroy us all, I am trying to find a way OTHER then the (from an american point of view perhaps more obvious ) mentioned way of curbing the current trend! Maybe describing it with shock and awe "aggression" was a bit off the mark, but a clear stand-off doesn´t work either.
And to go through the nationalities you mention, any guatemalan that could be possible "subversive" was probably among the tens of thousands of deaths since the Arbenz overthrow and the halting of covert CIA sponsoring of the military right wing death squads in the 90´s, Haiti is an utterly failed state that has absolutely nothing to offer the world in terms of resources and therefore irrelevant, the Hindus haven´t always been as nice with the Sihks and Indian Muslims (and vice versa), and the Christian palestinians are ,sadly ,on their way to oblivion(as throughout the Middle east). Anyway, this is not the kind of fact busting discussion I aim for, this piece was about the European context, there´s a lot of rotten things in the world nowadays and I´m after solutions to nip the so called "Eurabia" trend in the bud.

The crucial mistake most european governments made is that they expected the immigrant populations to actually WANT to assimilate, and therefore did not make many arrangements to guide them. But, as they could in now way find any cultural resemblance to the native populations, and were mostly herded to ghastly housing projects outside the main cities, a sort of apartheid came into being, part self imposed, part consequence of their status. Now things are going awry, the authorities realize their mistake (as you pointed out correctly, legislature is starting to be enforced).

What to do now? Purely from a european point of view lifting the muslims from their relative poverty will ,hopefully, give them the opportunity to embrace western lifestyle in the version that is more acceptable to them (ie, respecting some of their cultural and religious principles). Is that an impossible scenario? I certainly don´t think so, but a serious effort will have to be made.

The gap between what a young muslim learns in the progressive dutch schools and their parents viewpoints (not uncommonly they are illiterate and without any basic education, and do not master the language adequately) is far too wide and some kids become susceptible to rabid theories, influenced by hatefull texts and theories.

Sidda, I do draw a lot of my viewpoints out of the fact that I actually know many (assimilated) muslims I have a beer with in the cafe around the corner! It does perhaps make me look a bit naive in your view, but I trust personal experience more than I do the media. Come over and I´ll introduce you to them and we´ll discuss further over a pint!

Other interesting point is the actual origin of muslims in european countries, instead of all lumping them on one heap. Most north africans are the 2nd or 3rd generation of "guest workers" that were invited to work when we were short of hands in the 60´s and 70´s. We actually invited them!!! Another big group are Bosnian and Kosovar refugees (mainly in germany and scandinavia) who are in fact quite secular (although their respective conflicts were fought over ethnic lines). In France a huge chunk of muslims are Harqi´s and heir descendants,algerians who fought on the FRENCH side in the war of independence, and therefore had to relocate to france when Algeria received independence to avoid persecution. They are hardly religious, and they account for a huge percentage of the often quoted 5th column of 6 million muslims in France (by the way, Algeria is where many french jews came from as well).
What is true, and where you have a major point ,is that some of the kids radicalize not only because of reasons of poverty.

There is a strong tendency for young muslims to fraternize with their oppressed brethren outside Europe: the palestinians, the egyptian brotherhood, the chechens etc etc..it is an unfortunate effect of globalisation and indeedbrings events outside europe in our midst.

As you realise by now, I am an optimist, I am a young guy so I have to, and the fact that my cellphone was brutally stolen last weekend while I was actually making a call by a punk on a bike who was..yep..muslim does not alter my view in any way (ooh, I´m so enlightened!)

Actually, my neighbour, a lawyer with a nice car, once told me his laptop was stolen from the backseat while he was waiting for a traffic light in Barcelona, by a moroccan..stunned he watched the guy run, actually being cut down by another moroccan a bit further,who had seen it happen and returned the laptop while saying how pissed off he was by the bad image his people had, and apologizing for it. There´s still hope.

Thanks again for your comments,Sidda, i certainly will keep on checking up (although less prolific, do have work to do..) I certainly don´t want to generalize americans´behaviour or mentality in any way, I have met enough americans to know all colours of the spectre are represented in the States, and I´ve never been there myself (although have been in Mexico ,Cuba and canada, damn, how could I have missed it!) so shoudl refrain from any biased comments Europeans are so often quite thrifty with . I actually do appreciate that most Americans, also when having a very different opinion, do show an open mind and knowledgeable arguments to have a healthy discussion!

Best regards
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