In Normandy, on 26th July 2016, on a Tuesday afternoon, two young foot soldiers of the Islamic Caliphate stepped through the doors of a church, and slaughtered an 84-year-old priest whilst he was engaged in worship.
This murder was conducted with targeted precession. ISIS forced the Nuns to watch. They kicked the 84-year-old man to the floor. They made him kneel before the Altar, and they calmly and callously slit his throat.
The attack in Normandy was a direct assault on religious freedom, the ability to practise ones chosen religion without fear. We have taken this for granted in the West; the liberalism we champion is now slowly being ebbed away. Across the West Christians and Catholics alike will permit suspicion and quiet fear to gnaw away at them. Governments will fund projects to have reinforced gates and iron bars cage their place of worship, and their walls will be mounted with CCTV, a close watchful eye to defend against the awful ‘just in case’ scenario.
Jewish populations have had to live with this fear for a long time, their safety and security always in doubt. In France it is common to see Jewish communities patrolled by armed police as well as Synagogues fortified. Normandy has reminded the West that anybody the Jihadists see as different are, unequivocally and without doubt, their enemy, and that they wish to see them eradicated form the face of the earth or submit to Sharia.
This murder in Normandy was the seventh Islamist atrocity in France alone since January 2015, and has seen the lives of 236 needless sacrificed on the altar of the West’s paralysis against an Islamist menace that threatens the West’s very foundations. The dazzling continuous barrage of terrorist attacks across Europe is occurring with potent menace and without cessation. Their continuation and the inability for the West to respond from a position of strength points to an apathy and surrender of the West against a direct and poisonous assault from one single religious ideology that wants to see the enlightenment values destroyed, women enslaved, gays murdered, and other religions submit to Islamic law.
The blood of those in Nice and in Normandy and in Paris and in Bavaria is as much on the hands of the liberalism that cowers in the face of this menace as much as the craven Islamists that murder on the basis of celestially sanctioned pleasure. The dogma of multiculturalism has left Europe paralysed and unable to respond to the growing and increasingly extreme terrorist threat. This threat comes from a disillusioned and vulnerable migrant population that have seen hugely different cultures violently clash, causing an aggressive interpersonal identity crisis. This menace also comes from disenfranchised young male Muslim Europeans that are preyed upon by incredulous elderly Mullahs, from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and ISIS territories, to further their political aims and further the reach of the Jihadi’s hand.
The weight of the question and the severity of the consequences of not responding is a heavy burden for the West. What is one to do against such hate, such contempt and such poison that threatens not just the values you cherish but also the liberal thoughts that underpin such values?
The answer is not in banning in the burqa, the answer is not in the British National Party, nor in Le Pen’s Front Nationale. They take a sickeningly reductionist view of the problem, and they account for xenophobia and fascism, and this political conscious animates seismic societal shifts which saw the Bosnian war and genocide erupt in Europe. These parties take a demographic view of the threat; it us against them. The west would further undermine those precious enlightenment values if it sunk in to this demographic view of the Islamist threat.
The mistake that can be further made by the Liberal west is looking to others that criticise Islam and label them Islamophobic. I have seen, with much despair, this word increasingly used by liberals who wish to silence people that don’t agree with them. Criticism is healthy; criticism of religion is even healthier for the continuation of secular society, free speech and independent thought. The sudden onset of using Islamophobia to suffocate another’s speech underscores the banality of Liberalism, which is tying a noose for its own neck against the fight with Islamism. They state attacking Islam, with much commonality, is anti-Islamic racism, as if criticism of a religion is a direct assault on the personal freedoms of an ethnic group. Criticism of Islam and the use of Isalmophobia weakens free speech, but it is as nuanced as the reductionist view of demography of the European Far Right, of us and them argument. We must approach both views with caution.
However, we cannot deny that Islamists flirt with this reductionist demographic view themselves. After writing this article, I will, I predict, be accused by people of insulting every Muslim on earth, of insulting a billion Muslims. The French scholar Gilles Kepel, who is a French scholar on Islam, once relayed that when he tours North Africa for lectures the main question people ask is: “How many Muslims live in France?” When he replies that the official figure of around 4.7 million is probably accurate, the audience bawl in laughter. They mock him saying the figure is wrong and that is much higher. They say it is leaving the Dar al-Harb, (The House of War), and soon will be a Dar al-Islam, governed by Islamic law. Gilles Kepel always said his audience would always conclude this with the statement France is transitioning from one to the other without much of a fight.
Gilles Kepel’s audience is perhaps correct with the latter assumption. Where, indeed, is the West’s struggle against the Islamist encroachment on the enlightenment? President Hollande has said France is at war with ISIS but is the French style of war limited to cowering behind CCTV and armed police at the Arc de Triomphe?
The significant problem in Europe is that young Muslim men are inflamed by Internet propaganda, motivated to act by a Caliphate that use social media with morbid efficiency, and they pummel the message that they are distant from the struggle in Iraq and Syria. They encourage acts in their present location, to bring the war to them, to ensure their distance is not an obstacle to aide in the ‘true’ Jihadi struggle. The message has cut through to them, to the point that they now view the Jihadist view as the authentic interpretation of events in the Middle East. What exacerbates this problem is that many in the West treat the jihadist’s view as the real spokesperson for the minorities.
This is a mistake. Islam is as diverse as any other religion. The connections between a Turk and a Moroccan or an Algerian are limited. Moreover, many Muslims that have come to Europe, specifically in the wake of the civil war in Syria and the march of ISIS on Iraqi and Syrian territory, have come for the very purpose you would imagine. They have come to build a better life, to claim asylum away from the thugs and jihadists that have destroyed their home to the extent that nothing but dust grows in the crops. Many women beseech authorities to protect them against Forced Genital Mutilation and against forced marriage, and against un-honourable killings. These are the very positions from which the West can garner its resistance against the rise of a potential Euro-Sharia. It can, and indeed must, get support for its fight against Islamism from Muslim populations.
Liberalism in the West prides itself on protecting the vulnerable. It proclaims that they can care for the sick, and the wounded and the vulnerable. The wounded are ordinary Muslims, they are the LGBT community in Orlando, they are those that would practise their religion without intimidation or the threat of murder and the sickness is Islamists Jihadists. The sickness is spreading and it threatens to infect all of Europe. The medicine is not a tricolour filter on Facebook profile pictures, or memes that proclaim “Pray for Nice.” Praying in the face of a religious atrocity is like administering medicine to the dead. It is moot. What is needed is not prayer, it is action.
Unless the West acts with decisiveness, unless it upholds secularism and defends itself against the onslaught of Islamists that wish to see Europe submit to Sharia, we will start trading our liberal secular values in appeasement. Up with which I will not put. It is time for the West to face the Islamist menace.