A Lack of Tolerance That Is Justified
BY YOUSSEF IBRAHIM
October 13, 2006
This week, the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference decried what it called the “shrinking space” for tolerance toward Muslims in Europe.“Muslims have noted with concern that the values of tolerance are eroding and there is now shrinking space for others’ religious, social and cultural values in the West,” the Saudi-based OIC, the world’s largest Islamic association, said a statement sent to Reuters.This lack of tolerance is absolutely as it should be.If anything, there is still far too much tolerance of European Muslim isolationists and their preachers, whom the OIC and its Saudi patrons train, fund, and influence to promote barricaded communities inside cultural ghettos, waging war against the societies that embrace them.For decades, these interconnected webs of mosques, Islamic schools, and imported OIC imams have used the same freedom of speech they deny others to introduce the favored OIC concept of repressed societies to the heart of liberal Europe.Their quest has not been limited to insulating their communities from a sea of democracy. They also have sought to reverse freedoms for Western citizens who want to publish, write, make films, and read. Witness the hounding of the British author Salman Rushdie and his books, the mayhem over the Danish cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, the upheaval over Pope Benedict’s critical comments on Islam, and the far too numerous attempts to ban creative works on Islam.Until recently, Muslims were close to achieving a separate status for Islam, contravening the very essence of the secular state that is Europe’s foundation.But news reports from the Continent suggest that Europe is finally fighting back.In Rome, London, Paris, Madrid, Copenhagen, and Berlin, the talk is no longer of Muslim-Christian dialogue but of the need for Muslim reforms within Europe.In the past few weeks alone, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister de Villepin of France, and several candidates for higher office on the Continent have gone on the offensive in defense of Europe’s way of life.The budding revolt is underpinned by a political realignment. From France to Scandinavia, conservative, anti-immigrant parties are on the rise, forcing the center to shift rightward and the liberal left to edge toward the middle.Laws are coming into existence to arrest, expel, and keep out those who do not respect personal and communal space — which in every case turns out to be Muslim immigrants or Europeans of Muslim origin. Britain and France have been in the lead in enforcing such measures and have already arrested and expelled several who preached violence or supported it.Long before the attacks of September 11, 2001, many of us in the press were watching, reporting, and documenting the steady descent of political Islam into terrorism: Western hostages kidnapped in Beirut; terror attacks against Christians, tourists, and American workers in Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia; and the imprisonment of American diplomats for 444 days in Iran. We now feel that depriving militant Islam of oxygen is not only overdue but insufficient.A prime target should be the OIC and its Saudi patrons.OIC member nations should be told in the bluntest terms that no more mosques will be built in Europe until Saudi Arabia and other states reciprocate by allowing the construction of churches in the heart of Riyadh, Jeddah, and other cities and the lifting of restrictions on Christians and Jews living and working there.Eight million expatriates live and work in Saudi Arabia, many of them Philippine Catholics, American and British Christians, and Buddhists. They are not only deprived of houses of worship but at risk for punishments, including whipping, if they hold a private service.By contrast, the Saudi royal family has been allowed to fund the building of hundreds of thousands of mosques and schools in Europe, America, Asia, and Australia, where Muslims are free to worship and be indoctrinated in Wahhabism.It is high time for equality.This is what the pope meant by a “real” dialogue between Muslims and Christians — no polite exchanges over tea, but some serious, adult talk about whose tolerance is in question.