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May 02, 2011
Nunc est bibendum
Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus!
Now is the time for drinking, and for dancing wildly!
Instead of vintage Caecuban wine, I'll get some of the good stuff from Napa or Sonoma.
America, fuck yeah!
May 20, 2003
The Dutch media are reporting that the terrorists responsible for the attacks in Casablanca may have had help from the Netherlands and Belgium. These reports are based on anonymous sources in the Moroccan justice system, so a healthy dose of skepticism is recommended. If true, it must be a pretty depressing development. It would mean that the Moroccan expats living in the Netherlands have become a destructive influence on not just the Netherlands, but on their own home country as well.
Morocco is, as Arab countries go, a fairly easygoing and tolerant place. One of the attacks on Saturday was on the Jewish quarter of Casablanca. It's one of the few Arab countries to have one, and although many Jews have left for Israel, the community still exists and can function. It is in fact, the largest Jewish community in any Arab country. There are tours for tourists, and even kosher tours. Although I tried to find more information on this on the web, there wasn't much about the actual daily life in the Mellah, the Jewish quarter of Casablanca is known. But here's a disquieting thought: it might now be safer for a Jew to walk the streets of Casablanca than go into Amsterdam-West with its Moroccan population. (Well, that might have been true until the bombs went off; fortunately, we haven't had any of those here.)
The radicalization is in no small part the work and influence of Saudi money. There are schools and mosques funded by the Saudis, and apparently they've left their mark, even to the extent that the expats are now willing to murder their own compatriots at home for not adhering to the medieval savagery of Islamofacsism. Meanwhile, recruiting for the jihad continues in the Netherlands.
On that note, a Dutch judge today released four men from custody, who were being tried on charges of recruiting youngsters to the anti-western Jihad. Several others are still on trial, potentially face up to two years in jail. That is, if the public prosecutor's demands for a three-year sentence are granted; this would put them back out on the street in two years. It's probably going to be less. A previous trial last year collapsed completely.
The only silver lining in all of this might be that the Moroccan authorities will become more active in their fight against Islamofascist terror. Morocco would be an obvious candidate for progress in the transformation of the Arab world that is necessary if the region is to emerge from its self-inflicted backwardness. But a stronger response in the Netherlands wouldn't do any harm either.
May 19, 2003
Choosing sides in World War II
At the beginning of May, there are two important days in the Dutch calendar, the 4th and 5th. The fourth of May is Remembrance Day, when the dead of the Second World War are remembered and honored, followed by Liberation Day on the 5th. At 8 PM on the fourth of May, the country comes to a halt to remember the fallen and the murdered, silence descends on the country, with only bell tolling on the Waalsdorpervlakte, a plain near the dunes of the Hague where the Nazi executed Dutch resistance fighters. All over the country, wreaths are laid, speeches made and above all, the memory of the of occupation and the Holocaust are renewed.
This year, the remembrance ceremonies were descrated. There hadn't been much attention paid in the media to this initially, but there are now more reports appearing the papers. Today's edition of the Trouw newspapers has a long article on the events. I shan't translate all of it, but here are salient excerpts:
It was the leader of the D66 Michel Rog from the Amsterdam precinct of de Baarsjes who went to the media. He was furious over what happened on Sunday May 4th at the remembrance ceremony in his neighborbood. But neither the organizers, nor the precinct council, nor the police reported the incident. "Subsequently it turns out that the ceremonies were disrupted in several Amsterdam precincts. That's serious. But everywhere it's been kept quiet, even when reports had been made to the police. Shocking. Some of the incidents have even now not been publicized yet."
[...] The horn sounded, it turned quiet. Almost immediately afterward [..] Rog heard from behind him, further down the street, the chanting of slogans. There was a group of boys, apparently Moroccans, between the ages of 10 and 18. At least five of them chanted "We have to kill the Jews." [In Dutch, this rhymes]
[...] After the ceremony Michel Rog managed to identify together with the neighborhood police officer one of the boys, just a child, who strenuously denied having participated. But a friend of his furnished indirect proof, pleading with the cop "Mister, he did not know there were Jewish people there."
The article goes on to the question whether this is just plain vanilla vandalism of youngsters who don't know any better, or whether there is something deeper going on. The appropriate answer is probably a "duh" here.
Amsterdam-West, where this and other such incidents took place has a large Arab immigrant population, mostly consisting of Moroccans. The schools there, according the article, "find it ever harder to teach about the second world war." Anti-semitism is a way of life there. Most May 4th incidents involve Moroccan youngsters. Playing soccer with the wreaths, shouting anti-semitic slogans, throwing eggs and otherwise disrupting the ceremonies. Some apologists claim it's "just vandalism," that does not wash. These scumbags knew exactly what they were doing, and what the significance of the event was. This was a calculated attack to cause as much offense and grief as possible. These disturbances were very deliberate attempts to offend. On the day when we remember the victims of the Nazis, the Moroccans youths came out and supported the Nazis. They consciously and deliberately aligned themselves with a regime that has become the generic shorthand description of evil.
The newspaper article recites the rise of anti-semitism:
All over the Netherlands the number of complaints of anti-semitism keeps rising. The problem is most visible in Amsterdam, because that's where the biggest Jewish community is. According to the CIDI [Centrum Information and Documentation Israel] it's usually verbal abuse, almost always in Amsterdam, almost always by Moroccan boys. [...] "Yehoud" has become a well-known expletive. Jewish men wearing a yarmulke can be certain nowadays to be accosted. Moroccan boys last year threw stones at synagogue visitors in Amsterdam-West. [...] A few months ago, in a busy shopping street, the house of a Jewish man was vandalized. "JEW" it said with big red letters on the windows."
It's not really news that the Arab immigrants here are virulently anti-Semitic, but the descration of the of May fourth remembrance ceremonies is a further escalation, taking the anti-semitism to a brazen new level. And while the war may have ended over half a century ago, the May ceremonies still play an important role in Dutch life. By disrupting them, the Moroccan thugs have placed themselves even further outside of civilized society than they already were. Choosing the side of the Nazis so blatantly makes it very hard even for the most deluded multiculturalist to defend them. They've been forcibly deblinkered, at least temporarily. It won't take long for new blinkers to grow back on though, but perhaps not all of them will regenerate.
Repercussions of the Casablanca attacks
The terrorist attacks in Casablanca are having repercussions here in the Netherlands as well. With about a quarter of a million Moroccans living here, it is hardly surprising that these attacks have attracted some attention here beyond the standard newsworthiness. Vile as these attacks may have been, something positive may yet come out of them. What struck me is the reaction by one of the organizations representing Moroccans, the "Samenwerkingsverband Marokkanen Tunesiërs," which not only expressed its shock and disgust at the attack, but also followed it up by saying that they would have to have a closer look at the recruiting practices by Islamic terrorist organizations, and a denounced the suicide bombings. (Unfortunately, I can't find a link although I did see it in the news over the weekend.)
It's hard to say if this is for real, or whether it's just a spasm in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks. If the terrorists managed to awaken some opposition to their methods within the Moroccan community here, that must be a positive sign. It's a start to rooting out Islamic terrorism, but only by the follow-up will we be able to determine whether they mean it or not. It's also sad, but not surprising, that it wasn't until these attacks in Morocco that they ventured forth in speaking out against suicide bombings. Apparently blowing up Israelis by these means is OK. To be fair, I don't know the specific position of the one organization I mentioned by name above on this, but the prevailing virulent anti-Israel sentiment in the Arab immigrant community never had much of a problem with murdering Israelis. Thus they helped create this monstrosity, the psychotic death cult born of Palestinian terrorism, and that is now becoming the defining hallmark of Islamic terrorism in general. And the monster is turning on its erstwhile sympathizers.
Also missing this time around are the usual attempts at exculpating the terrorists. The usual litany of "understanding" for their "desperate acts," the recitation of the sins of the victims, the praising of the "courage" of the murderers, the susurration of support are all missing. Those only apply if the victims are Jews or Americans. Where are the apologists for the terrorists now that the terrorists attack Muslims? The absence of the terrorist apologia is of course welcome, but somehow I suspect this position won't be carried to its logical conclusion: the condemnation of terrorism against Israel.
May 13, 2003
The art of whining
I complain a lot about how poorly Arab immigrants assimilate into our western society here, but in some case they have useful aspects of our culture down pat. They're quite the Master Whiners now. Take this story for instance, about X-Men 2. Various Islamic groups in the US are demanding an apology from director Bryan Singer. They also want the DVD version of the film to be edited. Najee Ali explains:
"Within the first five minutes of 'X2,' an evil villain, 'Colonel William Stryker,' is in the White House signing a document," Ali declares. "As he signs, he is shown wearing a ring featuring the Arabic symbol for 'Allah.' Col. Stryker was never depicted as a Muslim in the comic book series. We feel this is a subtle but obvious attack on Islam . . . It is unfortunate, as we continue to live in a post-9/11 world, that Bryan Singer would engage in a subtle campaign to breed intolerance and hate."
I read this story before seeing the film, and even with this knowledge and looking for the scene, it flashed by before I had realized it. It's hardly a "subtle but obvious attack on Islam" if you have trouble finding the right scene in the film while looking out for it. Moreover, how many people actually know what the Arabic symbol for Allah looks like, much less can identify it from a detail in a quick scene in a movie? Of all the ways of attacking Islam in a film, this must be the most obtuse and ineffective ever. Even if it was the intention (which is a ludicrous claim in itself), it has failed miserably.
What a bunch of whining sissies. But it's not just them. The era of Political Correctness has spawned the Whining Reflex within self-identified Victim Groups. That's the way to get attention: first, be a victim. Second, whine. The whining has become a way of life, a substitute for argument or thought. Unfortunately it has been successful in many areas, as in the evisceration of cartoons. The inventive, hilarious and deeply un-PC Bugs Bunny episodes of yore are no longer shown on TV. Literature is castrated if it refers to any "sensitive" subject. The rewriting of history is progressing apace in what once were centers of learning, the American universities. I wonder how long it's going to take them to rewrite the Civil War in non-racial terms. They way things are going, someone somewhere at an elite university is probably doing Ph.D. thesis on this very subject at the moment.
The lesson is that whining can be successful. In that light, the Muslim groups' attempt to whine about X-Men 2 is almost rational in a contorted way. It's not going to work though. Tolerance for whining has come way down, and especially if it's on an idiotic premise as this one. So my advice to these whiners: grow up.
March 10, 2003
The AEL opens up shop
it comes as no surprise, but now it's official: the AEL has opened its Dutch subsidiary. The AEL is the Arab-European League, an organization which had its roots in Belgium and claims to represent (and probably does) the muslim immigrants in the Netherlands. It claims to be a democratic and Islamic party. There is little doubt that it is Islamic, but the democratic bit seems to be more difficult to find. At the inaugural meeting, the interim leader Jamil Jawad immediately called for the destruction of Israel, claiming that it has no right to exist. The quote is for "the State of Israel to be dismantled." That's great way to start a new democratic party, by calling for the desctruction of the only democratic state in the Middle East.
But what of the citizens of Israel? Do they only want the state destroyed, or the people as well? The press officer of the Dutch AEL, Naima Elmaslouhi, is quoted in the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad as saying that she did not disapprove of Moroccan youths chanting "Hamas, Hamas, gas the Jews" during a protest march last year in Amsterdam. Of course, she now denies making the remark. Speaking of democratic credentials, the interim leader Jawad also said he understoof why Moroccan youths are keen to see body bags with US soldiers to be sent back to the US. He said, "Those kids see war against Iraq as a war against Islam." Keep this up and it'll become one.
February 18, 2003
Appearance and reality
I am a Macintosh user, and have been one for over ten years now. What kind of image does that statement conjure up in your mind? If you don't care about computers, it probably means little to you. If you've been around computers for a while and have ever been involved in Advocacy Wars, that statement will bring to your mind very different images depending on which side you've been on. (If you're still fighting the Advocacy Wars, you probably don't have time to read this blog.) The fact is, Macintosh users have something of a reputation for being overly zealous in expounding the benefits of their beloved Mac. Zealots is a term that springs to mind, as are things like "obnoxious" and "stark raving mad," especially if you've ever been on the receiving end of a barrage of emails from aggrieved Mac Zealots. The situatiion now is probably not as bad as it used to be, now that Apple has a relatively stable business and is not in imminent danger of going out of business (its problems notwithstanding). The crown of obnoxious zealotry has probably passed to the Linux crowd, who not only advocate their favorite operating system, but also have the Open Source Religion. I fought my battles in the Advocacy Wars even before I was a Mac user; in those days it was the Atari ST versus the Amiga, plus various other computer platforms that have now been all but forgotten. Then there were the schismatics, the people who fought narrower battles. I remember one guy who plastered every Mac mailing list and newsgroup advocating the use QuickDraw GX, especially after NeXT bought Apple. This was a next-generation imaging system for the Mac OS in the days of System 7 and as many Apple products, it was really good, conceptually ahead of its time, pushing the limits of the hardware and ultimately unsuccessful even on the Mac platform. Apple never made it a standard part of the operating system, so few programs made use of of QuickDraw GX. Parts of it still survive even now in the new imaging models Apple uses in Mac OS X, but this one small part of the Mac OS inspired (if that is the right word) one lone nut to write fifty or more postings every day to all kinds of Mac fora. I'm glad I never ended up like that.
The reality of Mac users is that they're far less obnoxious than the lunatic fringe makes them appear. Most Mac users use the Mac as a tool, not as a religion. But it is the lunatic fringe that is the vociferous and also the one most likely to bombard non-Mac sites with its evangelism. And thus the outward face of Mac-dom tends to be defined by the lunatic fringe, at least to those who don't pay much attention to the much larger corpus of more sedate, realistic Mac users who inhabit the rest of the Mac Web. I usually don't write about this because I've outgrown the Advocacy Wars, and base my continued use of the Mac on simple pragmatism. I have a lot of Mac software, and I still prefer the user interface. But more importantly, I don't feel any need to dispel the erroneous impression the Mac lunatic fringe is creating in the wider world, because I simply don't care. To put it in more topical terms: the Mac Lunatic Fringe does not hijack airliners and slam them into the World Trade Center. They don't use force to impose their views. They're nuts, but they're mostly harmless.
But still, the outward appearance is largely dictated by the impression generated by a relatively small fringe. This appearance quickly becomes reality if it not counterbalanced by saner voices. But again, in the case of the Mac I don't care enough to do much about it. But as my earlier allusion to September 11th demonstrates, there are people who should care, and those people are the secular, moderate Muslims. Right now the image of Islam is one of a bloodthirsty, backward, primitive religion bent on destroying all the infidels. And it's hard to argue against that view since so few moderate, secular Muslims have come forward to denounce the acts and ideas of the Islamofascists.
I was surprised by the comments to my Combating the Enemy Within blog entry. The Instapunditing brought a good many visitors to my site, but the comments were dominated by those who thought I was too lenient in my stance on Muslims; some of the comments came straight from the racist canon. It's hard to tell how widespread this kind of opinion has become, but I do know that for a fact that the image of Islam and Muslims has been going down the drain for some time now. And my views have been changed too in a negative sense. I remember being in New York just before September 11th, and in our midtown Manhattan offices I was reading from material that was on my in-pile. It was from a research outfit called 13D. I was not familiar with their output, nor do I read them very often, but they had a piece out at the beginning of September 2001 with the title The World's Greatest Threat: Islamic Fundamentalists. My view of Islam at that point was that it had its problems, that the PLO and Yassir Arafat were utter scum and that Arab regimes in general were despicable. But I remember thinking to myself at that time that surely the situation can't be that bad. A few days later I was in a transformed Manhattan, and my views had started to change too. As I said previously, I am not yet at the stage where I am willing to give up completely on all Muslims; there are those who are loyal citizens of the west, and who despise the fundamentalism just as much as we do. But they seem to be a small minority, and the organizations purporting to represent Muslim either here in the Netherlands or across the Atlantic (such as CAIR) are only reinforcing the view that Muslims can't be trusted and are irreconcilably opposed to the liberal values of the west.
And over the last year and a half, there have been times when I have thought to myself "to hell with them all," much along the lines of the commenters here. That's why it's so important that the moderate and secular Muslims who do support the West in this war speak out. Loudly. Because if they don't, the Islamofacsists and their minions in organizations like CAIR will continue to poison the image of all Muslims. Letting the lunatic fringe determine the image of all Muslims is going to have serious consequences. My hope is that it is just a lunatic fringe, but sometimes I do wonder.
The tide can still be turned, but time is running out. Decisive victory over the various tyrants in the Middle East who support the Islamofascists is a necessary first step in what the West can do to defeat Islamofacsism. Nobody likes to be on the side of a loser, and we have to make sure that any regime which supports Islamofacsists in any way will be made a loser. A big, big loser. And we have to start soon with Saddam. I wish Bush would get on with it already, and screw the UN and the Weasels. If we don't get rid of Saddam now, he'll become a hero to the Arab immigrants in the west, who will be emboldended by such a victory. And the problem will be worst for France. Those dollar signs they have in their eyes after Iraq gave them sweetheart contracts have made them blind to the most obvious reality. Get on with it!.
February 15, 2003
Saving the village
The comments to my earlier blog about Combating the Enemy Within have focused in part on the issue of immigration. The Netherlands isn't the US, a country whose very identity is inextricably linked to immigration. But the Netherlands has for many centuries been a safe haven for various refugees, some of whom then proceded to seek sanctuary elsewhere. Recent immigration to the Netherlands has however been different. There is no melting pot here. The current wave of immigrants from the North Africa and Turkey were referred to in the past as "guest workers," who had been invited here in the 1960's and 1970's to do the kind of dirty and menial jobs that the Dutch no longer wanted to do themselves. The idea was that they'd stay for a few years and then return to their native countries, having earned some hard cash. Since the whole arrangement was based on the idea that it would be temporary, no attempts were made to try to integrate or assimilate them. Why bother if they're gone in three or five years' time anyway? It did not quite turn out like that, and many of them did become permanent residents of the Netherlands and other parts of northern Europe. Add to that an insanely generous socialist welfare state and you have the makings of the parallel society that has sprung up. Even if they lost their jobs, they could continue to cash government checks. Paid for doing nothiing; why bother going back?
The current situation is based on the serious mistakes of the past. Still we have to face the problem as it exists now, and there's no use crying over spilled milk. You have to understand why the milk containers leaked so much to avoid at least repeating the same mistakes. That realization is slowly dawning now. As for what to do about the problem, various commenters suggested draconian measures such as deporting large parts of the population. It may come to that, but I certainly hope that won't be necessary. The price we would pay for that would be enormous. After all, we do have a liberal, democratic constitution and throwing it out the window like that would be highly corrosive to our own standards and the ideals we purport to stand for. But it's that constitution that is under threat from the Islamofascists; whether it's the US Constitution, the Dutch or any European one for that matter, they're essentially the same in their goals and aspirations, and are viewed as being the same by the Islamofacsists. It's their goal to undermine our system of government and our liberties. The nightmare scenario I outlined previously is one where we have to face the choice between certain destruction of our way of life by the Islamofascists and inflicting considerable damage to our principles in defending these same principles. That's what I meant by having to destroy the village in order to save it.
If we act now to stop the ring-leaders of Islamofascism it should still be possible to defuse the situation without compromising our own principles. But time is running out. And I return to a point I made earlier: those secularized, moderate Muslim immigrants who do live here must find their voice, and we must help them find their voice. If they don't (and we don't), then they too will be become the victims of wider anti-Muslim hysteria. That's where I differ from Hirsi Ali at this point; we need engage and encourage the moderate Muslim immigrants, not insult their religion. It's a disagreement about tactics, not the final goal of victory of Islamofascism. I think she can do a lot of good, but her public statements are not helping right now. In any war, you have to choose your tactics and strategy carefully; just shooting at anything that moves does not constitute a good strategy.
I must disagree with the commenters who say that wholesale expulsion of immigrants is the solution. Advocating such a wholesale expulsion of a large part of the population, you are summoning up dark forces. Those are the same dark forces that are lurking under the surface now and feeding anti-semitism, for instance. If we ever get to that point, it's going to be very ugly time indeed in Europe. They're hardly likely to line up meekly to be sent off to the place where their grandparents were born. The amount of force required to implement any such solution would be horrendous.
It takes two to tango, as they say. The assimilation of the current immigrant population can only happen if there is a willingness on both sides. This means that the Dutch government should stop any policies that allow people to live in virtual isolation by handing them welfare checks (although I advocate this as a general principle, and it should not be based on ethnicity). For those who continue to undermine our system, there are laws for treason and subversion. Those who advocate or commit violent acts should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. One of the problems is that the law and criminal justice systems in the Netherlands are outrageously lenient, and the law enforcement authorities are all but capitulating to criminals. This in turn is encouraging the street gangs, many of whom consist of immigrant kids.
There is a serious danger coming from this fifth column within our own society, but as I said, we still have time to defuse it. And this is important for another reason as well: demographics. The Netherlands and Europe need more (young) immigrants in order to avert the demographic catastrophe that otherwise awaits us. Aging populations are a global problem, but Europe is particularly at risk.
I'd rather not be around if the village ends up being destroyed while it's being saved. The rebuilding effort will be arduous, and you'll wonder whether it's worth rebuiding in the first place.
Combating the enemy within
One of the more controversial figures in Dutch politics has been Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali immigrant who abandoned Islam and became an atheist. In combination with her high-profile remarks about Islam and the oppression of Muslim immigrant women in the Netherlands, this has earned her numerous death threats, and she even had to leave the country for a while as a result. She's still under increased protection. She used to work as a researcher at the Wiardi Beckmann Foundation, the think tank of the left-of-center Labor Party. She defected over to the right-of-center Liberal Party (VVD) and got an electable position on the party list. Since the last election, she's been a member of parliament for the VVD.
A few days before I went off on my vacation, Hirsi Ali gave an interview to the Dutch daily newspaper Trouw which really set the cat amongst the pigeons. The theme of the interview were the ten commandments, and religion played a major role in her observations. Some of the stories she told were about her childhood in Somalia, such as the time when she was beaten unconscious and had her skull fractured by an imam. She and her sister had been taunting him previously, not wanting to learn about the Koran.
I don't have the patience to translate the whole thing, but here are some of the highlights of the interview. She started off by saying that the current Christian Democrat prime minister Balkenende is not a Christian:
[Balkenende] is always talking about biblical values, but never about the things God asks us to do. Balkenende, the scientist who had to learn to refute in order to arrive at certain truths, believes that the world was created in six days? That Eve was made from Adam's rib? That's impossible. Scientists don't believe. I am convinced that Balkenende is not a Christian.
I suppose it depends on the definition of Christian that one employs. But this was not what caused all the excitement. It were her comments about Islam and Mohammed that led to the ire of Muslim organizations. In the following she refers back to a comment she'd made earlier about Muslim being "backward" or "retarded" (depending on how you want to translate the word), she said the following about the second commandment:
With the first commandment Mohammed tried to imprison common sense and with the second commandment the beautiful, romantic side of mankind was enslaved. I really think it's horrendous that so many people are left bereft of art. In that sense Islam is an outlived culture. Which is to say: unchangeable, set in stone. Everything has been written up in the Koran and there's no tinkering with it. Personally I still think that Mohammed's teachings are obsolete, but because in my new role as a politician I could not go into debate with people who'd hold it against me that I'd called them backward, I have retracted that statement. Or actually I should say that I have qualified my words: I think that Islam - the submission to the will of Allah - is a backward principle, but that does not mean that I think that the practitioners of the religion are backward too. They're behind the times. That's different. They can still move forward.
Traditional political weaseling here, but she goes on about the third commandment:
Insulting the prophet Mohammed is punishable by death. This the prophet heard himself from God, just like he heard other convenient things from time to time. Read about it in the Koran: he stole Zayned, the wife of one of his students by saying it was Allah's will. And what's worse, he fell in love with Aisha, the nine-year-old daughter of his best friend. Her father said, "Please wait until she reaches puberty," but Mohammed did not want to wait that long. So what happens? He gets the message from Allah that Aisha has to prepare herself for Mohammed. That's apparently Mohammed's teaching: it's OK to take the child of your best friend. Mohammed is, by our western standards, a perverse man. A tyrant. He's against freedom of speech. If you don't do as he says, you'll have an unhappy ending. Makes me think of all the megalomaniac rulers in the Middle East: Bin Laden, Khomeini, Saddam. Do you it's strange to have a Saddam Hussein? Mohammed is his example. Mohammed is the example for all Muslim men. Does it surprise you that so many Muslim men are violent? You're scared by the things I am saying, but you make the same mistake that most native Dutchmen make. You forget where I come from. I've been a Muslim, I know what I'm talking about. I think it's terrible that I, living now in a democratic country where freedom of expression is our greatest good, am still confronted with the posthumous blackmail of the prophet Mohammed. In the Netherlands mister Aboutaleb can read to Koran and think, "that Mohammed is great." And I can think, "that Mohammed as an individual is despicable." Mohammed says that women have to stay indoors, have to wear a veil, can't do certain jobs, don't have the same inheritance rights as men, have to be stoned if they commit adultery. I want to show there is another truth besides the "truth" that is spread with Saudi money all over the world. I realize that the women who call themselves Muslims won't understand me yet, but one day they'll remove their blinkers. We have to employ all channels of socialization - family, education, media - to make Muslim women self-sufficient and independent financially. That's going to take many years, but one day that women will realize like I did: I don't want my mother's life.
These comments about Mohammed caused a massive storm of protest from Muslim organizations in the Netherlands, including some veiled threats. Prosecutions under various laws have been threatened but nothing has come of these thus far. Ayaan Hirsi Ali's stated aim is to liberate Muslim women living in the Netherlands who are currently living under the fairly repressive conditions. I wonder whether this is the right way of going about these things. Her approach of open confrontation, indeed open attack on Islam makes sense if you think that there is no hope for reform possible without a dislodging the religion of Islam. Such open confrontation is not going persuade any moderate or secularized Muslims who might be allies in the fight against the Islamofascists. Instead, it's only going to antagonize them.
The problem is that thus far there has been little evidence of any pro-western, secular or moderate movement within Islam, certainly here in the Netherlands. The organizations purporting to speak for the Muslim immigrant populations have been very much along the mould of CAIR in the US. They show little affinitiy with the secular, western values which form the bedrock of our society. Instead they're not quite openly supportive of outright Islamofascism, but it's clear their sympathies are a lot closer to Bin Laden than the constitution of the Netherlands. Yet within the second or third generation immigrants there must surely be a significant number of those who're more attracted to our western secular lifestyle than the stultifying backwardness of fundamentalist Islam. But unless they make themselves known and their voices heard, the only signal we'll be getting from the Muslim immigrant community is that of adherence to a primitive, medieval religion and sympathy for those who seek to destroy our society and civilization. This in turn will vindicate Hirsi Ali's stance to seek frontal confrontation with Islam. It may become necessary, but to think that you'll be able to convert a significant portion of them to atheism is fanciful and not realistic. Even then the best you can hope for is to convert them to a more modern version of Islam, one which does not live in the glorious past of 1,200 years ago but at least tries to come to terms with the modern world of the 21st century. The best hope is the Turkish model, which combines a secular state with a somewhat more modern version of Islam. It's far from perfect as a model, but it's the best we have. And since there is a large Turkish immigrant community here in the Netherlands which is at least somewhat imbued with secularized thought, it's from within this group that any moderate and reasonable Muslim strand is most likely to emerge. That's why it's counterproductive at this stage to go for a full confrontation with Islam as Hirsi Ali is doing. It may yet become necessary, and perhaps I am too optimistic or naive to think that we have not yet reached that point. The alternative is worse.
Steering towards a full-blown confrontation is the Arab-European League, the AEL. The organization has its roots in Belgium and has been spreading its wings to the Netherlands as well as other European countries. Follow the links to read about the AEL and its founder, Abu Jahjah. Apparently there was a TV or radio debate with him a week or so ago here in the Netherlands. I have not seen or heard it, so I can only report what I heard about that debate third-hand. He was pitted in the debate against a number of pretty sharp Dutch debaters, such as the former GreenLeft leader Paul Rosenmuller. I generally disagree with him, but he's pretty good at debating. The general consensus about that debate is that Jahjah swept the floor with the Dutch politicians. In Dutch, a language he only learned relatively late in his life (20s?). Abu Jahjah adeptly used the very concepts of liberal democracy to defend himself against all accusations. He calls on the values enshrined in our constitution (however imperfectly defined they may be at times) such as freedom of expression and freedom of religion to justify what he's doing. He knows exactly which lines he cannot cross publicly; whereas he says he's only exercising his rights under the constitution, it's also clear that the AEL is working towards undermining it. It's the old Sinn Fein trick, building a semi-respectable facade for the world to see, while still being allied with dark forces.
Abu Jahjah is an extremely intelligent man. He can argue his case and defend himself using the vocabulary of liberal democracy while we works to undermine it. His sympathies lie clearly with the Islamofascists, but he's toned the public rhetoric down to a level where he's just another voice in the cacophony of our liberal democracy. He's perfectly aware of the weaknesses of liberal democracy and is detemined to exploit these to further his own Islamofascist aims. Combined with his intelligence, this makes him an extremely dangerous man.
The best way of dealing with idiotic and repugnant points of view (such as those espoused by the AEL and Jahjah) is to expose them for what they are. A well-informed population will be able to sift through them, consider them and reject them. The frightening scenario here is that it might not work that way. The immigrant community in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe has never made any attempt to integrate into wider society, nor has there been any effort by the governments to force them to. There's no melting pot here. There are multiple pots bubbling and boiling next to one another. Many of the immigrants from countries such as Morocco and Turkey (who form the bulk of Muslim immigrants to the Netherlands) have been living within their little parallel world in the Netherlands for decades. There is a bit more integration with second and third generation immigrants, but overall there is an astonishing degree of separation between the immigrants and the native population. And their numbers are large enough that they can't be ignored either. Within a few years, about 10% of the Dutch population will be Muslim. Another problem is that the immigrants are very different from the kinds of (Muslim) immigrants the US gets. What we have here is the bottom of the barrel, people who were at the bottom end of society even back home in Morocco. They're the worst educated of the bunch. The ruling elites in Morocco consider them utter barbarians and are just as glad to be rid of them.
Exposing them to the fresh winds of vigorous debate is going to be hard. Many don't speak Dutch, and living on the margins of Dutch society they're easy prey for the power-hungry predators of the AEL. If traditional methods of persuasion (or dissuasion in this case) do not work, what alternatives are left? A massive propaganda campaign could have an impact, but I am skeptical it can break into the majority within the group. The AEL will always have an advantage. Stopping government handouts to might increase pressure on them to learn Dutch and try to become more connected to society, but that too will not be enough.
This leaves the depressing prospect that we are very likely to end up with a substantial portion of the Dutch population under the sway of a brutal, primitive, fascist ideology. It certainly won't be the 10% of the population, but even if the AEL can muster the support of 5% it'll have the critical mass to disrupt wider society. You don't need a huge percentage to create a big problem, especially if they're willing to employ violent means to underscore their demands. This is the nightmare scenario. Accede to the demands of the Islamofascists or you'll be faced with widespread violence. Suddenly the poll over at LGF about which European country will first introduce Sharia is no longer so far-fetched. Will we accept the introduction of a parallel system of governance for Muslims, as is happening in Nigeria? It's too absurd to imagine.
There are no good alternatives. The AEL under Jahjah is going to become a powerful disruptive force, and any options for dealing with them are problematic. Will we have to destroy the village in order to save it? The best bet is still some combined education/propaganda campaign with the stick of loss of government subsidies (which I think should happen anyhow, regardless of religion). But the vast majority of these immigrants have now obtained Dutch citizenship. Sending them back would be very problematic in any case, but deporting Dutch citizen to a foreign country will raise insuperable constitutional hurdles. Using repression or outlawing certain kinds of speech or opinion are equally unconstitutional and very likely to be counterproductive anyway. The reality is that we have a large section of the population who can easily fall under the sway of the AEL and there's not too much we can do about it. The result will be increasing polarization between the growing group of immigrant who'll support the Islamofascists and the wider population. This guarantees an ugly outcome.
There might still be a chance to avert such an ugly outcome, but it will require strong and determined action. The flow of Saudi money has to be stopped; mosques cannot be allowed to spread anti-western propaganda any longer. We have to get a grip on the incubating Islamofascism within the immigrant community, and encourage the moderate. secular strands to come forward and denounce the Islamofascists. We might still be able to pull it off, but time is running out. And while I strongly defend Hirsi Ali's right to say the things she has said, I think they're counterproductive at this point. Only if and when we come to the conclusion that all Muslims are beyond rhyme or reason does it make sense to open up a full frontal assault on Islam. I hope it does not come to that.
There is another aspect that would help: a big crushing defeat for the various dictators in the Middle East. Starting with Saddam is a good beginning, but getting rid of the Saudis (who're funding much of the anti-western forces in Europe) will have to come next. Removing the external support for the enemy within has to be part and parcel of the strategy of defending the West against the threat of Islamofascism.
UPDATE: I have written a follow-up here.
January 16, 2003
Street gangs of Amsterdam-West
The area known as Amsterdam-West is one of the parts of town where street crime is a big problem. The street gangs have an interminable history of both petty as well as more serious crime. The situation is not as bad as in some of the more notorious inner city areas of the US, but living in Amsterdam-West is not exactly a pleasant experience. The Dutch daily Parool has a summary of a report (pdf) on the issue, available only in Dutch at the moment. The author, Frank van Gemert, writes that he intends to publish articles in English as well on his research into one particular street gang, the Molenpleingroup, named after a square in that part of town.
It makes for extremely depressing reading. There's a hard core of 24 gang members and they're about 18 years old, and there's a secondary group of about 40 to 50 followers. The hard core members have been involved with the police on average 33 times per person, while one of them managed to chalk up no fewer than 202 brushes with the law. They spend their time hanging around on the streets, uneducated, unemployed and completely wrapped up in their group identity. The gang forms their only frame of reference, and any outside influences are met with hostility and suspicion. Not only do they commit many crimes on outsiders, they're also perfectly happy to turn on their own. One example is a policeman stopping two boys riding a moped without a helmet and license plate. Other gang members used to opportunity to steal the moped from under the nose of the policeman and the putative owner. The policeman only managed to detain the driver by threatening him with pepper spray.
The report goes also into the details of group identity and dynamics. The report describes the siege mentality of "us against them," groupthink, how they create their own reality and version of the "truth," their complete refusal to accept any responsbility for their acts: it's all somebody else's fault, and by blaming the authorities for not giving them something to do or aspire to they don't have to accept responsbility. The report also points out that they're incapable of even listening to opposing points of view, because they're used to winning arguments by shouting others down.
A recurring theme is the inability of the law enforcement authorities and the criminal justice system to deal with the gangs. The identities of the group members are well known, and many are arrested on a regular basis. The report states on page 60:
A boy who ends up at the police station for some infraction of the law almost always will know the names of the others who were involved. To name them however would be treason and the rule is that the boys keep their mouths shut at the policestation. They've learned that often they'll be back out on the streets in a few hours. No matter how clear the evidence may be against them, the boys deny their involvement and cooperate as little as possible with the interrogation.
There's also a description of how the gang targets the "supervisory teams," who are not police officers, but work with them to try to contain violence. They're local people from the neighborhood and part of the community. When one of them admonished a gang member for his behavior, he was head-butted. So he filed a report with the police. The next weekend he was going for a night out on the Leidseplein, which is at the heart of the entertainment district of Amsterdam. A reception committee of gang members awaited him; they beat him up and threw him into a canal. The police quickly arrived on the scene and arrested the gang members. The report says, "A short time later they were sent home, even though the charges against them were of attempted murder and the gang members were well known."
The report also tries to address how to deal effectively with such gangs, but it is very much from a perspective of trying to reform the gang members and make them useful members of society again. But this is not a societal problem, it is a clear failure of the criminal justice system. The authorities know who the gang members are, they arrest them frequently for various crimes, they have evidence against them and yet they're still out on the streets. Locking them up would seem an obvious idea, but it does not appear to be on the menu when searching for a solution. Throwing them into prison is not going to reform them, but at least it will prevent them from committing further crimes. Protecting society against these serial offenders would be the main benefit of incarcerating them. The laws that would allow this are mostly there, but they're not being applied. One change that would make locking them up more effective is to incarcerate offenders for longer periods of time as they commit more crimes. It's unreasonable to throw somebody in jail for years on account a small act of petty vandalism, but by the time he's arrested for the third, fourth or tenth time, I have no problem with removing him from circulation for exponentially increasing periods of time. It would keep society safe from these incorrigible deviants, allow law-abiding citizens to take back the streets and remove negative role models for new generations of youths to follow. Right now young kids in those neighborhoods grow up in an environment where they see how their elders get away with openly flouting the law. In their eyes, no ill consequences come of breaking the law and in some cases actually can bring in a lot of money. They do not perceive that a life of crime leads them to marginalize themselves in society.
There is one final twist to this story which I have not mentioned so far, because it is not strictly relevant to the above. The gang, like many others, consists of Moroccan immigrants or immigrants' children. This adds another explosive dimension to the problem of the street gangs, as their highly visible criminal profile reflects poorly on the entire immigrant community. Such gangs would exist even in the absence of immigration if law enforcement would be as broken as it is now. It's not so much an immigration problem, as it is a law enforcement problem. The relevance of the ethnic origin does come into play when you look at secondary effects. To maintain their group identity, they fall back on their imported culture. The enemy, the evil people responsible for their current disenfranchised state are the Jews. The gang members latch on to anything that puts them into as much conflict as possible with "respectable society," and thus the gangs become a hotbed of anti-semitic, anti-western Islamofascist sloganeering and proseletyzing. It's not a big jump for such violent and inveterate criminals to be recruited by a bit of clever manipulation into full violent Islamofascist mold of anti-western terrorism. And that's another reason why we need a good dose of Guiliani-style zero tolerance policing to stamp out these gangs, quite apart from the general issue of maintaining public safety.
January 02, 2003
There's no place like home
The Indonesian authorities have released from custody someone's who's lovingly described as a "Muslim militant." His name is Abdul Wahid Kadungga and he's suspected of having links with Al Qaeda and of being involved in recent terrorist attacks in Indonesia. He's on good terms with various Islamofascists in Indonesia, including Abu Bakar Bashir, the leader of the Jemaah Islamiah terrorist organization. According to the report:
According to a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), Kadungga assisted Bashir in 1985 when Bashir fled Indonesia for Malaysia.
ICG said Kadungga "is believed to have had direct communication with al-Qaeda through his ties to the Egyptian-led Gama Islami".
The Gama Islami is a core group of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, according to ICG.
The research organisation said Kadungga is also associated with the Makassar-based Committee for Upholding Islamic Law.
He denies being involved in terrorism, of course. It's so good of the Indonesians to believe him like that. But since his arrest and release, Kadungga has developed a sudden yearning for his adopted homeland, the Netherlands. He obtained political asylum here in 1985 and became a Dutch citizen in 1991. The Dutch daily Parool reports
how Kadungga gushes that "the Netherlands is democracy number one." Translated from Islamofascistese this means that the Netherlands is a good basis from which he can operated unhindered. It's touching to see how well he's assimilated into Dutch society and embraced the values of tolerance, freedom and democracy. A shining example of the success of our multicultural society
Parool also reports that he's a big admirer of Osama Bin Laden's: "He's fantastic, one of a kind." Actually, he's not. He's more one of those kinds who've been pulverized by a daisy cutter. I'd be more than happy for Kadungga to join his hero in this rarefied status.
Kadungga's activities from his Dutch base have focused on supporting the Islamofascists' armed struggle. He says, "I'm an international activist. I travel from Europe to the Middle East and to Asia. I establish contacts with Islamic fighters everywhere. I dream of an Islamic empire."
I dream of the day he meets the daisy cutter on one of his missions in the Middle East.
December 20, 2002
The threat unveiled
Another example of how the Islamofascists are treat others, even their fellow Muslims who dare to disagree with them:
Suspected militants killed three young women in their homes just days after posters appeared in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region ordering women to wear a veil.
Two of the women, both aged 21, were shot dead in their house in the Rajouri district in the south of the revolt-torn Muslim-majority state.
An official says a third woman, 22, was taken away and beheaded.
If they can't brainwash people into following them blindly down the path to self-destruction, the Islamofascists are perfectly happy to terrorize them. If that fails, they kill them, even if it means killing their fellow Muslims. They cannot be reasoned with, they can only be crushed.
December 18, 2002
Evading painful truths
Mindlessly clicking on links sometimes takes you to interesting places. And "interesting" comes in many guises, from the kind of stuff the tickles your fancy with a the feathers of a peacock to the kind of interesting that results from being crushed by a grand piano that happened to fall out of the 50th floor window. The Muslim Directory Online is interesting in the sense that it evokes wistful and exasperated sighs. Take for instance The Rise and Fall Of Muslim Scientists. Most of the article is devoted to Arab science and history, rather than Muslim though; but for a large part of history, the two were broadly synonymous, with the exception of the Persians.
The basic message in the article is that the Mohammed and the Quran exhort pious Muslims to learn and acquire knowledge. Being a good Muslim means seeking new knowledge:
1. Seek knowledge "even though it be in China".
2. "The acquisition of knowledge is compulsory for every Muslim, whether male or female."
3. "The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr."
4. "Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave."
5. "God has revealed to me, Whoever walks in the pursuit of knowledge I facilitate for him the way to heaven".
This goes on for a while like that. There's little to object to in this, except for the fact that it does intertwine science and religion to an alarming degree. But this is also something the Christianity grappled with over the centuries, from heliocentrism to genetic engineering (although actually doing science is now completely separate from religion in most cases; it's left to the individual scientist). Charting the rise of Arab scientists, the article continues:
The Islamic Empire for more than 1,000 years remained the most advanced and civilised nation in the world.
A somewhat arguable point here. It's definitely true that from a Eurocentric point of view, the Ottoman empire with its Arab and Muslim culture was far advanced scientifically for many centuries. Stretching it to 1,000 years is taking it a bit too far.
This is because Al-Islam stressed the importance and respect of learning, forbade destruction,
Would somebody please tell this to the Islamofascists who attacked us in the hope of destroying us? Perhaps undertaking not to try to destroy western culture (and throw in Israel for good measure) might be a good start here. They definitely need to take this non-destruction thing more seriously.
developed in Muslims the respect for authority,
And this is a good
discipline, and tolerance for other religions.
Well, it was tolerance in the sense that the conquered peoples were allowed to practice their religion. However, in order to obtain full rights in the Ottoman empire you had to convert to Islam, not be a slave and also not be a woman. I guess it's tolerance of a sort.
The article goes on to explain the various achievements of Muslims over the centuries. Again, there is no argument that for a long, long time Arab culture was more advanced than the Christian Europe of the Dark Ages. Some of the claims the article makes strech the truth a bit, while others strech the elastic band truth to the point where it snaps, recoils and takes out an eye: "[...] Muslims are directly responsible for the European Renaissance." *ahem*
The article is titled "The Rise And Fall Of Muslim Scientists." It spends much time talking about the Golden Age of Arab science (such as the glowing description of 10th century Córdoba), but the problem becomes obvious on the page actually listing Arab scientists. The most recent one listed is Ibn Khaldun, in the year 1332. The "rise" is clear, but the article completely fails to address the "fall"-aspect. Instead, we are taken in the next paragraph to a description of the current sad state of Muslim learning:
The status of the Muslim Ummah is of great concern to all the Muslim intellectuals. No one can deny that the Muslim Ummah occupies a position which is at the lowest rung of the ladder in the world. The share of the Muslims in Nobel Prizes and the Olympic Games is close to nothing.
Olympic Games? Where did that come from? I thought we were talking about science here. Still, the Arabs' most prominent contribution to the Olympics was in 1972 in Munich, led by all-star athlete Yasser Arafat.
Muslims contributions to literature both general and scientific is marginal at the best. It is very sad to see the status of Muslims in the present world at the bottom. Muslims have been economically exploited and politically subjugated.
And this is as close as the article gets to exploring the fall of Muslim science. It shows the great achievements of centuries past, it describes the sad state of Muslim learning now, but it just can't bring itself to ask the all-important question: What went wrong?
The author only affirms the Victim status of Arabs today without any attempt at introspection or exploration. That would require the seeking of knowledge and confronting of painful truths. But until the Arabs manage to look past their self-inflicted backwardness and self-deception, there's not much hope for a revival in Arab science, or in Arab culture more generally. There are brighter spots in the Muslim world, such as Malaysia, where the economy is doing a lot better than anywhere in the Arab world, and where at least the beginnings of a middle class are emerging. But that far east the suffocating aspects of Arab culture never weighed as heavily as in regions closer to the holy places of the Arabian peninsula.
Now it's a matter of connecting the dots, from the heyday of Arab learning to its current backward position in the world. At some point the cognitive dissonance may overcome the deeply rooted victim complex and the pathological obsession with Israel and lead to the triumph of reason over dogma in the Arab world. I'm not holding my breath though.
December 10, 2002
Preaching and practicing
Keeping track of what the sheikhs and imams in the Arab world are preaching, Little Green Footballs is performing a valuable service in informing us of what the Religion of Peace is saying to its subjects. Here in the Netherlands, Saudi-funded schools promulgating similar messages. The problem also extends to Dutch mosques, where imams have preaching the same litany of hate. The current affairs program NOVA secretly recorded some of the sermons last June. The imams in mosques in Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Tilburg were filmed calling for the destruction of the enemies of Islam while glorifying martyrdom. One of them called for Allah to destroy Islam's enemies, naming President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon. After an investigation, the public prosecutor has decided not to press charges against these imams, as they deemed the chances for a successful conclusion to a trial to be small. After all, the reasoning goes, the imams called on Allah, and not their congregation to destroy the enemies of Islam.
At what point do you cross the line that separates freedom of expression and incitement to violence? The structural poisoning of the mind in which these imams engage is a big danger for the long-term survival of a liberal civil society in Europe. The traditional antidote to hateful speech is not banning it, but confronting it and defeating it by argument. This is difficult to achieve, since many of the muslims who go to the mosques live in their own cultural cocoon. With the satellite dishes, they only watch Moroccan or Arabic TV. Too many of them still don't speak or understand Dutch, and their entire social lives are wrapped in an inward-looking closed-off circle with nary a Dutch influence on it. So how to get through to them?
It is clear to me that if we don't defang the poisonous imams, the situation will sooner or later descend into civil unrest and ethnic strife. Europe's history is an indication of how ugly these things can become. The best way of dealing with the problem is to cut off the flow of money, which is still coming from places like Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the Dutch economy requires a much-needed overhaul, and the prime place to start is the hypertrophic welfare state, which has been sucking the lifeblood out of private enterprise. It has provided perverse incentives for both native Dutchmen as well as immigrants of all kinds to prefer doing nothing over actually finding a productive job. Time is starting to run out though, on both counts.
November 28, 2002
Romeo and Juliet in 21st century Europe
Kassablanka, a Flemish film, is causing uproar in Antwerp. It's a classic Romeo and Juliet story, but set in contemporaneous Belgium. It deviates from the original plot in that it has a happy end, but its capacity to generate tragedy is taking place in real life. The twist in the film is that Juliet is a muslim girl of Moroccan descent who's grown up in Belgium, but whose father is a fundamentalist muslim who preaches jihad against America. Romeo is Flemish and his father is a member of the extreme-right Vlaams Blok (Flemish Block) party. The conflict between the families is obvious as Leilah (our muslim Juliet) and Berwout is thus set. Her father dreams of the caliphate, his father of a racially pure Flanders. I haven't seen the film, so the following is based on the Dutch newspaper story linked above.
The film is actually a comedy; it ruthlessly makes fun of both fundamentalist Islam as well as neo-nazis. Love conquers in the end, and the relationship between Berwout and Leilah comes to a happy end. By poking fun at the dysfunctional atavistic elements in both the native as well as the immigrant groups the film shows the idiocy of both. And it conveys the positive message that even youths coming from polarly opposite backgrounds can live together and fall in love.
Great, huh? Well, the Moroccans living in Antwerp are not happy about this. Cinemas showing the film now have much increased security due to violent and loutish behavior by Moroccans. For instance, when Leilah takes off her headscarf in the film, there's booing, heckling and a loud "slut!" resounds. Last week 30 Moroccan youths stormed the cashiers at one megaplex. The Arab-European League has started a petition against the film. But fortunately not all Moroccan immigrants feel the same way: Umiva, an organization of mosques declined to participate in it.
But the reaction of radical Moroccans living in Belgium is dominating the headlines. And their yen for antediluvian behavior extends to far beyond the cinemas. The Moroccans actresses starring in the film are routinely accosted in public with taunts of "whore" and "disgrace for the Arabs." Says Souad Hamdaoui, "A few Moroccan boys had recognized me. They drove their car slowly past me and scolded me. I was furious. Some immigrant men can't stand the idea that a girl of muslim origin would behave in a modern way." She plays a minor role in the film. As the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali shows in the Netherlands, the apostate is in gravest danger.
The dysfunctional relationship between the sexes in Arab societies is well-documented. Oppression of women is second nature to Arab men, and the liberation of muslim women who live in the west is just something that they cannot accept. This is but one aspect of the barbarous movement that has declared war on us. It is important for moderate and non-fundamentalist muslims to speak out against the Islamofascists in their midst.
The director of Kassablanka, Guy Lee Thys, says:
The film is particularly aimed at the Flemish Block, but why can't I laugh at the muslim who arranges his prayer mat with a compass? And then I'm being mild. I could also have made a realistic film about a women who's forced into a wedding, kidnapped and murdered."
The point he makes about this film being mild about the reality of Arab culture and fundamentalist Islam is correct, but I using the example of praying in the direction of Mecca is disturbing. Sure, it's silly, but so are many aspects of other religions. Eating the body of Christ in church or keeping meat and milk separate to the point of having two dishwashers is not rational either. But faith by definition is not, and I really could not care less which direction Muslims face when they pray, what Catholics eat and drink in church, or whether Jews have a second kitchen in order to be kosher. Those things don't harm others. The teachings of fundamentalist Islam do harm others. That's what needs to be exposed and attacked, not the arcane rituals of religion.
November 07, 2002
More jihadis in the Netherlands
They nabbed another one. A 22-year old man was arrested in the southern town of Eindhoven on Monday who apparently had been recruited in the international jihad. The police found a tape with his farewell message to his family. A second man who was also arrested has been released.
October 31, 2002
Hirsi Ali rips the multiculturalists
In a somewhat astoudning development, Ayaan Hirsi Ali today annouced she was switching political allegiance from the left-of-center Labor Party (PvdA) to the right-of-center Liberals of the VVD. Reasons for her defection from Labor are explained in an op-ed in today's NRC Handelblad (free registration required). It is unfortunate that it's in Dutch because it deserves much wider airing. No, I'm not going to translate it. I will point out some highlights from her commentary, which deals with the plight of muslim women in the Netherlands, and how they have been let down by Left. Writing about social democracy, she says:
Social democracy means standing up for the weak in society. Right now, that's mostly women and children in muslim families. They don't have the same basic rights that Dutch women and children have - they do on paper, but in practice they don't in everyday life. This causes mental suffering, but also physical suffering, as the population in women's shelters shows.
She explains the shame-honor values of the muslim immigrants in this country, which put enormous pressure on members of that community not be critical of their own. It also imposes a stifling conformity on them, consigning especially women to lifelong misery and oppression. But she is especially critical of the failure of the Left to support and protect the weak. Group identity politics, so beloved of the contemporaneous Left, lead to putting the maintenance of the ethno-religious group over that of the rights of the individual, in this case muslim women. She writes:
All freedoms that for some are a matter of course: falling in love, going out, staying with a friend, a shopping trip, swimming, cinema or going to the theater, is met with gossiping within the group of women and the inevitable screaming of a father or a brother or a husband: where were you?
It's the girl who're limited in their freedom of movement, they have to have their hymen repaired, they get beaten and kicked. We know it, but we don't want to say it. Thus these women pay the price for tranquility and thus the so-called supporters of the multicultural ideal can sleep soundly.
It shows how little real willingness there is to integrate within the mulsim leadership. And how much contempt they have behind closed doors for the culture and inhabitants of this host country: the heathens. The infidels will burn, the Dutch muslim television said on September 11th last year.
The marginalization of the muslim immigrant community is self-imposed and widespread, but also facilitated by the Dutch socialist welfare system. Two thirds of the muslim immigrants live on government handouts.
In other comments she made today about her decision, she's also quoted as saying that the Labor party can only start to make a constructive contribution to this discussion, once "it saves itself from the stanglehold of the multicultis and muslim conservatives."
Much of what she has said is also relevant in the wider discussion in the west about the folly of multiculturalism. Those who prided themselves on being defenders of individual liberty on the left have become enablers of brutal repression, all because the hatred of America and western culture has become more important to them then the individual rights, the rights which we hold to be self-evident and which are most respected and protected exactly in the West they despise so much.
October 29, 2002
The pot is boiling, not melting
The Dutch pot is not melting, it's boiling. The latest manifestation of racial tension came in the wake of a tragic death in the eastern town of Venlo. René Steegmans was a 22 year old student who was beaten to death for an act of gallantry. When he saw that two youngsters on a small motorbike almost crashed into a handicapped 73 year old lady, he came to her defense and admonished the young men about their reckless driving. In response, they beat him to death. He was buried today.
What otherwise would have been yet another senseless, brutal act of violence quickly acquired an anti-immigrant dimension. The main suspect, who had done most of the beating, is of Moroccan descent. The other young man was Dutch, but that was quickly lost in the outpouring of hatred towards Khalid L. (as he is known in the press). The condolance books on the internet had to be closed because of the anti-Moroccan sentiment that spilled into the comments. There is a significant problem with crime committed by Moroccan youth gangs (such as this horrific case), but in this case it's more a case of a life gone awry, and his Moroccan ethnicity seems unimportant.
Then Khalid's parents were interviewed on a current affairs program on TV. His father said their 18 year old son was "a good boy who wouldn't hurt a fly." Well, this could be the usual parental blindess, but the fact is that Khalid had already been convicted once of assault. This being the Netherlands, he had to do community service. His father said that those were the kinds of brawls any kid could get involved in. But then his father went on that his son was insulted by Steegmans. "Is he then not allowed to fight?" the father asked. His mother also added the comment that her son Khalid was "Allah's instrument to end René's life."
It is hard to think of more stupid, inflammatory things to say. Emotions had already been running high, and these comments have really put the cat amongst the pigeons. Invoking Islam transformed the crime from a single individual to the whole muslim community. The organizations representing Moroccan immigrants were at least quick to disavow these comments. After a talk with leaders of the Moroccan community, the parents issued a written retraction of their earlier comments. According to the imam who drafted the letter, their comments had been misinterpreted which is the traditional backpedaling maneuver. What they actually had meant to say, is that they lost two sons, their own and the boy who died. Yeah, right.
To boggle the mind even further, Khalid's parents have been living in the Netherlands for 36 years now. They hardly speak Dutch and his father has been on disability benefit for 25 years. The Dutch "WAO" system of disability benefit used to be excessively generous. For a minor work injury you could essentially retire, and the state would pay you 70% or 80% of your last pay. Even if you were able to do other work. The system has since been pared back because it had become very expensive as you might imagine. Still, over a million Dutchmen out of a total population of 16 million get some form of WAO benefits paid. That's why our taxes are so exceedingly high.
The entire welfare system is utterly excessive, if not to say insane. The incentive to work is not very high if you can live more or less comfortably on state handouts. And this Moroccan guy managed to do so for 25 years without even speaking the language! No reason to learn Dutch, the checks keep on coming.
The reaction to the Moroccan involvement in this crime also shows how tense this country has become. The assimilation of immigrants has to become a top priority if nastier forms of anti-immigrant sentiment are to be averted. Immigrants need to be forced to assimilate into Dutch society, and cutting off the flow of state money to those who refuse is likely to be good first step.
October 25, 2002
Islamic schools and the Dutch melting pot
The Dutch educational system as it exists now is a relic the vertical regimentation of society that existed throughout much of the 20th century. What we've ended up with is a hybrid system, which is state funded yet has elements of independence. Most publicly funded schools are religious, with catholicism and various offshoots of protestantism dominating. Most schools do retain that religious element in their character, although the intensity of the religiosity is diminishing as society has become more secular. This was the compromise that the various soceital groups had managed to work out that enabled them to live peacefully with one another, although there was substantial segregation between the columns of society. newly-built schools in newly-built areas still generally are affiliated with a religion even in these secular times.
With the influx of migrant workers from north Africa there are now, inevitably, also Islamic schools. Since the issue of immigration and integration of these migrant workers was shorn of the taboo that had been cast over it, more attention has been focused on these Islamic schools. Of particular concern is whether they promote anti-western and anti-semitic (aren't those two synonymous these days?) sentiment. An investigation by the "Education Inspectorate" concluded that it is impossible to check on what's going on in the religious classes offered in these schools. Of the 37 schools investigated, they were unable to ascertain what was being taught in religious classes in 14 of them. There is for instance the As Siddieq school in Amsterdam, which the Inspectorate criticized as follows: "The school must find a better balance between the transmission of identity-determined values and mores, and the transmission of values and mores which facilitate the pupils' ability to participate [in society, ed.]" This is bureacratese for "they're cramming the kids full of anti-western propaganda." In the As Siddieq school, boys and girl are separated in class and in the playground. The head of the school, who has never denied that the school gets money from Saudi Arabia has also written a pamphlet, in which he said that "Jews, the erring, the Christians are the fire wood of Hell." You can imagine what the children are being taught. It is hard to pin down exactly what is taught though. In the presence of the inspectors, no radical or extremist language was used. However, they also note that there are no books or syllabi for the religion classes which are often taught in Arabic. So other than bugging them there's no way of knowing what's really going on.
The melting pot needs to have the fire stoked, because not much melting is going on here. The phlegmatic tolerance of these seeds of destruction and strife has to end. It pains me greatly to say this, because I have always felt that people should be left alone to educate their children as they deem fit without interference. Yet I find myself now advocating a position that I find very troubling, leading on a path I would rather not travel down. However, being left alone works two ways, and September 11th was the wake-up call that showed the West that the Islamofascists are not going to leave us alone. Not addressing this problem of anti-western hate being taught in Dutch Islamic schools is the ostrich response.
At its heart, the problem is that the current wave of immigrants is fundamentally different from previous waves that the Netherlands has seen. Although not an immigrant country like the US, the country has had a long tradition of being a save haven for the persecuted. In 1620 a group of such refugees, having spent 11 years in this country preparing, set out from the port of Delfshaven to seek a new life, cross the Atlantic and lay the foundation of what was to become the United States. The wave of immigrants that has come to the Netherlands and western Europe as a whole is different. It is also different from the traditional immigrants to the United States. They were not fleeing persecution, but were invited as "guest workers" to fill jobs that few natives were willing to fill in the 1960s. The difference is crucial: rather than being emigrants who seek a new and better life, partake of a new culture and liberate themselves from their past, these guest workers brought their culture with them with no intention of abandoning it. After all, they were not expected to stay very long, nor did they themselves expect to stay very long. Few of them sought the clean break with their past which drove millions of Europeans to America. So right from the start, integration was not really an issue. Why integrate, why fire up the melting pot if they're going to be gone soon? Thus the pathologies of Arab culture and society have been transplanted into segments of the West European population.
Another complicating factor is that those who did come here were the least educated, most marginalized members of their own societies. The rich elite, the rulers, the well-connected had no need to leave countries like Morocco. They were doing OK. The uneducated and unskilled were the ones who answered the lure of European guest worker status; it is exactly this group which is now most susceptible to the call of Islamofascism.
"Guest workers" did not work out that way. Many stayed, started families (or brought them over), and became a permanent part of society. Or rather, they formed their own parallel society within Dutch society. The Islamic schools are a reflection of the unwillingness and inability to adapt. This lack of integration is being encouraged of course by the sinister forces of Wahhabi petrodollars, which lubricate the machinery of anti-Western extremism. It must be stopped.
But it would be wrong to treat the Arab immigrants as a monolithic block. Amongst the second and third generation Arabs, there are plenty who have become part of western, secular Dutch society. It is hard to tell how many of them fall into this category, as the immigrant community is defined in peoples' minds not by the assimilated but by the Islamic fanatics and the criminal Moroccan youth gangs. There is a danger that by tarring all of them with the Islamofascist brush, the formerly moderate and assimilated will be driven into the arms of the fanatics. Any strategy to deal with the fifth column in our midst must be two-pronged: encourage the westernized assimilationists to assert themselves, while dealing harshly with those who spread the gospel of anti-Western hatred.
October 16, 2002
Recruiting terrorists in the Netherlands
The Dutch intelligence service reports that there is solid proof that islamic terrorists are recruiting in the Netherlands. A 22-year old Egyptian immigrant, who was arrested on the 30th of August in Rotterdam, appears to have left a cassette tape with a message to his family, saying he'd left home in order to become a martyr.
October 10, 2002
More twists in the Hirsi Ali case
In yet more twists in the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the weekly Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland now claims that she's made up the death threats, mostly based on the fact that her father, who lives in London, now denies having received any such threats after initially reporting them. So what is going on? The newspaper Trouw has an analysis of the case. That there have been threats is beyond any doubt, as many of these have been made on public fora on the internet. Furthermore, some phone calls have been traced to Sweden and Italy. So what to make of her father's story?
Two facets of Muslim culture are important here. First is the patriarchal structure, where the father of the household is supposed to be able to control what members of his family are doing. That's why phone calls would be directed to him as well as his daughter. Second is the tribal nature of Arab societies, with its emphasis on shame and honor. To avert shame and gain honor for the tribal group, in the case the wider Somali expatriate community, the right thing to do is to deny the death threats.
In the assessments of both the police and the Dutch internal security service, the threats are real and the danger is real. This is not in the least strengthened by the argument Ayaan Hirsi Ali had on television with M. Cheppih, the chairman of the Muslim World League in the Dutch town of Tilburg. This organization is known to be funded with Saudi money, preaches a violent and fundamentalist Islam and seeks to recruit young Dutch Muslims for its cause. The security service is also observing continued radicalization amongst Muslim youth in the country, with special venom being directed against apostates such as Hirsi Ali. The police hope that if Hirsi ali lies low for a while, tempers will cool. But further publicity would rekindle the flames and the danger; respect for freedom of expression is apparently still too much to ask for in parts of Arab immigrant community.
October 09, 2002
Nineteen editions in ten months
OK, one final thing before I pass out in comatose bliss on my bed: I also bought Oriana Fallaci's La Rabbia e l'Orgoglio, which since its first edition in December of last year has now added another 18. A pretty impressive performance, and it's a powerful book too. As I was reading it, I started to make notes about parts I'd want to quote here, but soon I realized I'd end up quoting a large part of the book. The English version will be out soon, so you'll be able to read it for yourself. It's well worth it.
September 22, 2002
Islamic fundamentalism in Holland
Sometimes I miss really obvious news, and it has to be pointed out to me by people who're one or more oceans distant. Here's the story at Shoutin' Across The Pacific about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who's been threatened by radical Muslims for her comments on women's rights.
I think there are a lot of Muslims in the Netherlands who would agree with her comments, and are more than happy to have escaped the stifling and repressive climates in their erstwhile domiciles. We also see this in the US, as Instapundit linked to here and here just recently. Unfortunately, the organizations claiming to speak for Arab immigrants seldom are this enlightened (CAIR anyone?). This is also the case in the Netherlands. Muslim organizations have condemned the threats against Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but have pointedly refused to agree with her. And that is the real problem.
September 18, 2002
12-year old girl abducted, used for sex - repeatedly
Today's Telegraaf reports a horrifying tale of a 12-year old girl, who's been abducted by a group of men, and was then forced to work as a prostitute. Repeatedly. TWENTY times.
The rape gang, a group of young Moroccans, threatened her with knives and guns, and took her blindfolded to a bar. On the bed there, she was forced to have sex with dozens of men. The story only came out after the girl, Miranda, had fled to Amsterdam where she'd been roaming the streets for five days. During this time, her parents found her diaries with the details in her room.
The parents reported this to the police in May, who did not take them seriously. Only after the third attempt to report the case did the police deign to investigate. Meanwhile, Miranda's father had discovered the identities of the rape gang and gave them to the police.
So the situation now is that the family is fleeing their home in Assen, because they're being terrorized by the rape gang. They get harassed with phone calls in the middle of the night, get messages sent to their cell phones, and members of the rape gang strut prominently in front of their home. The father used to work as a sales clerk in a store, where the rape gang members started to harass him too. He's had a nervous breakdown and lost his job.
Police spokesman Martin Panman says: "This week or next, we'll set up a serious detective team of six people." The initial report was filed in May. Now it's middle of September. The suspects' identities were known. And still the police wouldn't act, and are now, under the pressure of publicity, setting up a team to investigate. Wasn't Holland pretending to be a civilized country?
Nor is Miranda the only victim of the Moroccan rape gang. One other victim is now in a psychiatric institute, the other is too scared to leave her home. Three lives scarred, perhaps permanently, by a gang of despicable violent thugs, while the police have to be shamed into action. Utterly disgusting. This is yet another, albeit particularly horrendous, example of the state of law enforcement in the Netherlands. Citizens are not supposed to defend themselves, since that is what the police is for. Yet the police are simply not up to the job, and this has not gone unnoticed.
One final question is whether the ethnic origin of the gang rapists is relevant here. They are all Arabs, mostly Moroccan, with the odd Iraqi and Kuwaiti thrown in. The relevance stems from the structural proclivity of Arab men in western countries to treat women as they had been taught to in their own dysfunctional culture, where women's rights are virtually non-existent and they are treated as property. This carries over into their behavior when they live in the West. This is not an isolated incident. In France, gang-rapes comitted by Arabs are so common, they have a name for them: tournantes. Australia recently saw a brutal gang-rape, resulting in a record 55-year jail sentence for the ringleader. In Denmark and Norway, well over half those convicted for rape are of Arab origin, while they form only a small minority in either country.
This is a problem. Putting a the Multicultural Blinkers of Political Correctness on is not going to change the underlying reality. Either the Arabs living in the West assimilate into our culture and bring themselves up to our level of civilization, or they should seek their abode elsewhere. Mark Steyn put it thus:
As one is always obliged to explain when tiptoeing around this territory, I'm not a racist, only a culturist. I support immigration, but with assimilation. Without it, like a Hindu widow, the West is slowly climbing on the funeral pyre of its lost empires. You see it in European foreign policy already: They're scared of their mysterious, swelling, unstoppable Muslim populations. Islam For All approvingly reported the other day that, at present demographic rates, in 20 years' time the majority of children (i.e., under 18) in Holland will be Muslim. It will be the first Islamic country in Western Europe since the loss of Spain. Europe is the colony now.