“Hello from Fjordman. Here comes the fifth and final part of the long essay/booklet about Islam and democracy. The essay in full can be read at the Gates of Vienna blog, with a printable version available here.
“Part 4 is here.”
In early 2006, a tiny Norwegian Christian newspaper, Magazinet, had reprinted the Danish cartoons of Muhammad. After the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, indirectly triggered attacks on the Norwegian and Danish embassies in Syria in February that year by whipping up anger in Arab television, Norway’s Minister of Labor and Social Inclusion Bjarne HÃ¥kon Hanssen called a press conference at a government office building in Oslo. There VelbjÃ¸rn Selbekk, the editor of Magazinet, issued an abject apology for reprinting the cartoons. At his side, accepting his act of contrition and asking that all threats now be withdrawn, was Muhammad Hamdan, the then-head of Norway’s Islamic Council. As author Bruce Bawer wrote, it was exactly like a scene from a sharia court.
Trond Giske, Minister of Culture and Church Affairs, met with Mr. Muhammad Hamdan a few months later and announced that government subsidies for the Islamic Council would be raised from 60,000 kroner a year to half a million. That’s more than a 700% increase in a single year, and was undoubtedly viewed by Muslims as jizya. Thus it was in reality a formal recognition by Norwegian authorities that the country was now under Islamic rule.
Later in 2006, Minister Bjarne HÃ¥kon Hanssen from the Labor Party called for increased immigration to Norway from Pakistan because this would be “good for the economy.” The majority of Muslims in Norway voted for the Labor Party in 2005, and 83% for Leftist parties in general. Samira Munir, a member of the city council in the capital city of Oslo, warned that there was widespread cooperation between the Socialist parties and Muslim communities during that year’s elections. “The heads of families and the mosques would decide how entire groups of immigrants would vote. They made deals such as ‘How much money will we get if we get our people to vote for you?,’ and the deals were always made with the Socialist parties.”
Norway is an unusually naÃ¯ve nation. While it may not be the best yardstick to measure Islamic infiltration, the challenges Norway faces can be found in many democratic countries, and not just Western ones.
Perhaps the greatest idea of the Leftist factions after the Cold War was to re-invent themselves as Multicultural parties and begin to import voters from abroad. There is nothing new about buying “clients” by promising them access to other people’s money. However, this defect becomes more dangerous when combined with massive immigration. In Europe, Muslim immigration may turn democracy into a self-defeating system that will eventually break down because native Europeans no longer believe that it serves their interests.
The Turkish government tried to influence the Dutch general elections in 2006 through e-mails sent to thousands of ethnic Turks in the Netherlands. According to Paul Belien of The Brussels Journal, “This has created a situation where the immigrants in Western democracies become Trojan horses of foreign nationalism and religious fanaticism.”
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a Sikh, in 2007 stated that minorities, particularly Muslims, must have the first claim on resources so that the benefits of India’s economic development would reach them equitably. He failed to state that this was probably also for the electoral benefit of his own Congress Party, which has been courting Muslims in India since the time of Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru. Muslims are lagging behind non-Muslims in economic development everywhere, from Western Europe to Malaysia, which strongly indicates that their backwardness has something do with Islamic culture.
Muslims in India can partially follow sharia law, with official recognition. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has gone to the High Court to lower the legal age of marriage, and insists that in family matters India’s Muslims should be subject only to sharia. In January 2007, the government informed the Supreme Court that Muslims under their personal law have a right to establish sharia courts to settle disputes between two people and that fatwas issued by these courts are not in conflict with the Indian justice system.
Scholar K.S. Lal analyzed Indian demography for the period between 1000-1525. Lal estimates that the numbers of Hindus who perished as a result of these campaigns was approximately 80 million.
According to historian N.S. Rajaram, “India, where the wounds inflicted by centuries of Islamic rule on a large segment of the Indian intelligentsia and the political class have been so debilitating that they continue to live in a state of constant fear. (…) Political freedom in India has not brought about spiritual freedom; politicians and the intelligentsia still act like oppressed colonial subjects when asked to face the truth about their country’s Islamic past.”
In Foreign Affairs magazine, F. Gregory Gause III, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Vermont claims that there is no evidence that democracy reduces terrorism, and points out the number of terrorist incidents in India:
“It is fair to assume that groups based in Pakistan carried out a number of those attacks, particularly in Kashmir, but clearly not all the perpetrators were foreigners. A significant number of terrorist events in India took place far from Kashmir, reflecting other local grievances against the central government.”
Despite the fact that Muslims have massacred tens of millions of non-Muslims in India for more than one thousand years, Muslims in the Republic of India don’t merely have equal rights with non-Muslims, they have special rights and can follow sharia for family matters in what is supposedly a secular country. India was also one of the first countries to ban Salman Rushdie’s book Satanic Verses after the Ayatollah Khomeini issued his death sentence in 1989, thus restricting the freedom of speech for almost one billion non-Muslims out of fear of Muslim violence.
Former Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra was controversial for several reasons, but there is no doubt that his clash with the Islamic Jihad in Thailand’s south greatly contributed to his removal through a military coup in 2006. Most of Thailand’s inhabitants are Buddhists, but the southern provinces close to Malaysia have Muslim majorities, where a Muslim insurgency has prompted many Buddhists to flee their homes. Monks have been beheaded and teachers slain. Almost one thousand public schools have been closed in the south due to a wave of arson attacks against schools and the murders of dozens of teachers.
A leaflet which was distributed in the region stated that “This land must be liberated and ruled by Islamic Law. This land does not belong to Thailand, this is a land of war that is no different from Palestine and Afghanistan … Muslims and non-believers have to live separately.”
Chulanont Surayud, Thai military officer, interim Prime Minister and head of a military junta that had overthrown the elected government in the fall of 2006, publicly apologized for the former government’s hard-line policies and said that he would urge the limited use of Islamic law in the south, especially over family affairs.
Judging from the experiences of India, there is little reason to believe that granting limited sharia to Muslims would end violence against non-Muslims. Most likely, the Buddhists of southern Thailand will end up being refugees in their own country, just like the Hindus of Kashmir, while their government appeases Muslims with sharia.
Certain observers mistakenly claim that “once Muslims become a majority, we will get sharia through elections.” On the contrary, sharia will arrive much sooner. Observe that relatively small percentages of Muslims can squeeze concessions out of democracies. Sharia has already been partially implemented in India, Thailand, the Philippines, and Britain. Islam’s inherent aggressiveness elicits appeasement from non-Muslims in order to avoid bringing down the democratic system through civil war.
In Policy Review, Lee Harris…warns against those who dismiss the idea that Jihad constitutes a serious Islamic threat to the West because we are technologically superior to the Islamic world:
“The jihadists are not interested in winning in our sense of the word. They can succeed simply by making the present world order unworkable, by creating conditions in which politics-as-usual is no longer an option, forcing upon the West the option either of giving in to their demands or descending into anarchy and chaos. It is tempting to call this approach the crash of civilization.”
Accordingly, says Harris, “In the crash-of-civilization paradigm – contrary to Clausewitzian warfare – the enemy of a particular established order does not need to match it in organizational strength and effectiveness. It needs only to make the established order reluctant to use its great strength out of the understandable fear that by plunging into civil war it will itself be jeopardized. This fear of anarchy – the ultimate fear for those who embrace the politics of reason – can be used to paralyze the political process to the point at which the established order is helpless to control events through normal political channels and power is no longer in the hands of the establishment but lies perilously in the streets.”
In September 2006, French high-school philosophy teacher Robert Redeker published an op-ed article stating that unlike Christianity and Judaism, “Islam is a religion that, in its own sacred text, as well as in its everyday rites, exalts violence and hatred.” For the crime of stating that Islam was violent, Redeker received numerous death threats and had to go into hiding with his family and give up his teaching profession.
According to writer Christian Delacampagne, “large sectors of the French intellectual and political establishment have carved out an exception to this hard-won tradition of open discussion: when it comes to Islam (as opposed to Christianity or Judaism), freedom of speech must respect definite limits.”
Seyran Ates, who for a generation had endured threats from Turkish men in Germany, including being shot and badly wounded, as she represented the wives who accused them of abuse, had to give up her Berlin law practice because it had become too dangerous. Italian conservative MP Daniela Santanche has received death threats over her opposition to the Islamic veil. In Spain, author Gustavo de ArÃstegui, Foreign Affairs Spokesman for Spain’s conservative Partido Popular, has received police protection after being branded an enemy of Islam.
With Muslim immigration, a culture of threats, legal and social harassment as well as physical intimidation is gradually spreading in non-Muslim countries. What Muslims cannot yet achieve by the sword, they will try to achieve by lawyers backed by Arab oil money. The fear of an expensive court battle is an effective weapon that can be used to silence critics of Islam.
In Canada, Mark Harding was sentenced to 340 hours of community service — that is, indoctrination — under the direction of Mohammad Ashraf, general secretary of the Islamic Society of North America in Mississauga, Ontario. Judge Sidney B. Linden’s 1998 decision was based on Canada’s hate-crimes law. The judge determined Harding was guilty of “false allegations about the adherents of Islam calculated to arouse fear and hatred of them in all non-Muslim people.”
Harding’s crime was to distribute pamphlets outside a public high school. His materials listed atrocities committed by Muslims in foreign lands. The pamphlet said: “The Muslims who commit these crimes are no different than the Muslim believers living here” and that “Toronto is definitely on their hit list.”
In 2006, Canadian police arrested a group of Muslim men suspected of planning terror attacks against various targets including the Toronto subway. An intelligence study warned that a “high percentage” of Canadian Muslims involved in extremist activities were born in Canada.
Harding’s case demonstrates that it is now a criminal act in several Western nations to tell the truth about the dangers posed by Muslim immigration. Hate speech laws amount to “sharia lite”: they are used to silence infidels such as Harding for criticizing Islam, which again corresponds to the workings of sharia. The sharia lite of political correctness is thus paving the way for the gradual implementation of full sharia in the West.
Hate crime legislation, too, is legalized political correctness and constitutes a radical departure from the ideal of equality before the law. You will be punished differently for assaulting a black Muslim than for the same crime against a white Christian, a Hindu woman or a Jewish man etc. Some would argue that this already happens in real life. However, the point here is that this de facto inequality has now become de jure. This formal change constitutes a gross perversion of justice. It mirrors Islamic law, which mandates different punishments for the same crime, depending upon the religious background and the sex of both the perpetrator and the victim.
Islam has always valued individual life inequitably. But now there is a creeping tendency within the West toward the same view. In the case of assault or murder, an additional sentence is added if the act is viewed as a “hate crime.”
Murder is murder, and all human life is to be valued equally. However, according to Multiculturalism we are required to treat all cultures and religions as equally valid, which they obviously are not. This perversion of reality indicates that the Western system of justice is regressing. As it does so, justice becomes vulnerable to exploitation and infiltration by Islamic law.
Zachariah Anani, a former jihadist and a convert to Christianity, gave a lecture in Windsor, Ontario on “the dangers of radical extremism.” Muslim interest groups, including CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) Canada, charged him with “spreading hatred in the community.” Former Muslim Walid Shoebat believes that silencing Anani is a dangerous trend with far-reaching implications for the future of Canadian and eventually US freedoms.
According to the American writer and scholar Daniel Pipes, Omar Ahmad, the long-serving chairman of CAIR, told a crowd of California Muslims in July 1998, “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran … should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.”
Pipes claims that CAIR has mastered the victimization game and is “perpetually on the prowl for any incidence of anti-Muslim sentiment, real or imaginary, spontaneous or provoked, major or minor.” The organization’s goal, Pipes says, is “to make the United States like so many other countries – a place where Muslims, Islam and Islamism cannot be freely discussed.”
CAIR receives significant financial aid in its efforts. In 2006, wealthy Saudis such as Prince Alwaleed ibn Talal donated at least $50 million to CAIR. Much of this money was to be spent on a media campaign over the next five years in the United States. CAIR and other Islamic organizations have had significant success in achieving acceptance of the concept of “Islamophobia”. It has met with representatives of federal institutions, including the FBI, to address this issue.
What exactly is democracy? Karl Popper has said that “I personally call the type of government which can be removed without violence ‘democracy,’ and the other, ‘tyranny.’” Ludwig von Mises held similar views, stating that “The essence of democracy is not that everyone makes and administers laws but that lawgivers and rulers should be dependent on the people’s will in such a way that they may be peaceably changed if conflict occurs.”
Historically, direct democracies have almost always been relatively small communities, such as the Greek city-states where the word “democracy” itself was coined in the 5th century BC. The most famous was the ancient Athenian democracy, where voting rights were gradually expanded to all citizens, which still meant a minority of the population of the city.
The scholar John Dunn tracks this development in his book Setting the People Free: The Story of Democracy, a title he chose in order to convey a degree of irony. According to Dunn, “Under democracy the citizens of Athens, quite reasonably and accurately, supposed that they were ruling themselves. But the vastly less exclusive citizen bodies of modern democracies very obviously do nothing of the kind. Instead, they select from a menu, which they can do little individually to modify, whichever they find least dismaying amongst the options on offer.”
Whereas Plato loathed democracy, Aristotle was critical but more sober. He envisioned a government by the many, which was nevertheless a good system:
Page 47: “Aristotle himself chose to call it not democracy but politeia, (polity or, more informatively, constitutional government). Politeia was distinguished from democracy not merely by a difference in purpose and disposition (a commitment to collective good rather than group advantage), but also by a different and more elaborate institutional structure.”
James Madison, the chief drafter of the Bill of Rights, contributed a great deal to drafting of the US Constitution and set-up of its government, in discussion with among others his friend Thomas Jefferson. They were both critical of the idea of pure democracy. Thomas Jefferson warned against “elective despotism.” They desired what Alexander Hamilton had called a representative democracy, or indirect democracy. Dunn is not convinced this arrangement can properly be called democracy, in the meaning of direct citizen involvement in decisions which it had in ancient Greece.
Page 79: “Whatever else the new American state might or might not be called, it could not properly be termed a democracy. A representative government differed decisively from a democracy not in the fundamental structure of authority which underlay it, but in the institutional mechanisms which directed its course and helped to keep it in being over time.”
John Dunn thinks US President Bush’s idea that the expansion of democracy to Iraq and the Middle East should roll back terrorism was “a glaring instance of ideological overstretch.”
Maybe the word “democracy” is now so diluted that it has become almost meaningless. Since the word itself is vague but at the same time too established to ignore, perhaps we can distinguish between pure democracy, which isn’t always a good system even without Islam, and restrained democracy, with a balance between short-term populism and long-term interests.
In The Case for Sovereignty, Jeremy A. Rabkin describes how JÃ¼rgen Habermas, Germany’s most celebrated philosopher, talks about establishing a structure of international law and authority that will control and direct all governments.
As Rabkin timely asks: “Who could challenge or constrain a world authority with such immense power? Even if it were constrained by a formal constitution, who could possibly ensure that the world authority remained within its proper bounds? How could it be anything like a democracy? Would a hundred small nations outvote the half-dozen largest nations? Or would a billion Chinese, a billion Indians, and a half-billion Southeast Asians be allowed to form a permanent majority, dictating law and justice to the rest of the world?”
There was no United Nations or international law in the late 18th century. Rabkin thinks the US Founding Fathers “would have been appalled at the thought that the federal government, in turn, would be subordinate to some supranational or international entity, which could claim priority in this way over the American Constitution and American laws.”
The combination of 21st century mass media, transnational legislation, and bureaucratic feudalism helped transform Europe into Eurabia. Thousands of pages of legislation continue to be passed without the knowledge or consent of European citizens. Through mass immigration the demographic profile of the continent is now rapidly changing, frequently without public consent.
The Jihad riots in France in 2005 demonstrated that hundreds of ghettos were under de facto Islamic control. French state control ceased to function in these areas; thus the state’s monopoly of violence has been broken. The rule of law in much of Europe is now being seriously eroded. People see that the national taxes they pay go to governments that can no longer control their own borders, uphold their own laws, or even provide the most basic security for its citizenry.
Either the conditions needed for a functioning democratic system will be restored, or the system will collapse. An increasing number of observers fear that we have already passed the point where the tensions can be contained within the structure of a democratic system, and will give rise to civil wars.
The Racial and Religious Hatred Bill in Britain from 2005 is a textbook illustration of the potential flaws of a democracy in meeting with Islam. Minorities can wield disproportionate influence in a democratic system if they can tip the scales in favor of a particular party or alliance. In this case, the Labour Party was using the freedom of speech of their citizens as a bargaining chip to woo Muslim voters.
The powers of the House of Lords, the unelected upper chamber of the British Parliament, have steadily declined since the 19th century. However, they can still delay bills from the House of Commons. A watered down version of the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill was finally passed, following opposition by the Lords. Notice here that it was the “anachronistic” House of Lords — the least democratic element of the British Parliament — which proved to be most sensible in this case.
The US Founding Fathers feared “mob rule” and tried to insulate the elected representatives of Congress from what they perceived as the fickleness of the general populace. I understand this viewpoint. We should be less religious about what is or is not democracy. Democracy should never be a goal in itself, nor should all legislation be passed according to the whim of the majority at a given moment. The ideal is a balanced and well-functioning system.
However, it isn’t always the case that ordinary citizens are stupid and their leaders wise. It was after all the political elites in Europe who created Eurabia, not the general populace. The US Founding Fathers in the 18th century did not fully foresee the possibility that the elected representatives could deliberately choose not to uphold their country’s borders, as they are doing in the United States vis a vis Mexico in the 21st century.
A century or two ago, the interests of the national political elites largely coincided with those of the nation state as a whole. This is no longer automatically the case in our globalized society. Many politicians and senior bureaucrats feel little emotional attachment to their own nations. Often they are more interested in courting the transnational organizations and multinational corporations, since these entities will provide them with the most lucrative job opportunities.
This situation is an important factor behind the growing erosion of trust between the rulers and the ruled in many Western nations. A common — and often quite accurate — theme among ordinary citizens is a sense of having been abandoned by the “political elites.” In the 21st century, one of the greatest challenges for a functioning democratic system will not merely be to keep the fickleness of the “common people” in line. Even more important, it will be necessary to force the sometimes reluctant elected representatives to uphold their country’s borders and to take into account the wishes of the electorate for national sovereignty. This balance may not be easy to achieve.
The Chinese blogger Ohmyrus (who also writes very sensible articles about Islam) on his blog “Reforming Democracy” refers to politicians as “votepreneurs” and points out that democracy has several flaws: “There are, simply put, more poor people than rich people. What this means is that politicians can prosper at the ballot box by proposing redistributive policies. The result is high taxes.”
According to Thomas Jefferson, “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” Quotes like this indicate, according to Ohmyrus, that the US Founding Fathers were concerned more with liberty than with democracy.
Ohmyrus also believes that democracies produce short-term thinking, and “are incapable of delivering short term pain for long term gain. They tend to do the opposite, ie, deliver short term gain at the expense of long term pain. (…) I think the monarchies of the 19th century Europe were better macroeconomic managers than the democratically elected politicians of the 20th century. Statistics show that interest rates, taxes and inflation were on the whole lower. So was government debt as a share of the GDP.”
He believes this happened because monarchs and nobles tended to think more about the long term. At the same time they did not have absolute power, and so had to take the will of the general public into consideration. Our current problem lies not so much with the votepreneurers (politicians), but with the system under which they labor.
He proposes several remedies this situation. Among other things, the US President’s time in office could be increased to a single term of eight years, while the time in office for other elected officials would also lengthen and similarly be fixed for a single term.
According to Singapore’s long-time leader Lee Kuan Yew, it is demography, not democracy, that will be the critical factor in shaping growth and security in the 21st century. Although I do not always agree with him, it is true that any political system, democratic or non-democratic, cannot long survive the loss of its territorial integrity without also losing control over its own demographic future. Yet this is exactly the current reality in many democratic nations.
Just as the planet is in the midst of an unprecedented population boom, and technological advances have combined to produce the largest and fastest migration waves in the history of mankind, many democratic nations have become so bogged down by idealistic human rights legislation and naive open border ideologies that they have now lost control over their own borders. Again, this cannot continue for long without serious consequences.
In January 2007, a poll conducted in Britain showed that 82% of the public disagreed with the claim that the Government was in control of immigration, and almost as many believed the authorities were not honest about immigration. Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the think-tank Migrationwatch, said this reflected “a deep underlying resentment among the public that they have not had any opportunity to express their views – still less to be consulted – on a matter of major importance to them and to the future of our country.”
This represents a dangerous crisis of legitimacy. It is especially serious when it comes as authorities are increasing restrictions on free speech. This combination could well result in a popular explosion further down the road. As US President John F. Kennedy once said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
The blogger Ohmyrus fears this outcome, too: “While it took a long time for Europeans to learn to settle their differences peacefully through the ballot box, this important lesson is slowly being unlearned. The lesson learned from the Danish cartoon affair is that violence pays. Most western governments caved in by issuing apologies or condemning the cartoons instead of defending free speech. Soon groups that oppose immigration will turn to violence too. If European democracies cannot manage their ethnic tensions, democracy will break down, ushering in dictatorial rule.”
To sum up my findings, I am not totally uncritical of the democratic system, nor do I believe that it automatically translates into individual liberty. Democratic nations may have to undergo significant changes if the system of democracy to survive this century. The goals should be:
* a balanced and well-functioning system, which requires free speech;
* real restraints upon the power of the ruler, and
* equality before the law.
None of these are compatible with Islamic sharia.
Muslims aren’t necessarily afraid of voting. Note that the terrorist organization Hamas gained power through Palestinian elections. According to historian Niall Ferguson, a Gallup poll published in 2007, which surveyed 10,000 Muslims in 10 different countries, revealed that radical Muslims were more supportive of democracy than moderate ones: “The richer these people get, the more they favour radical Islamism. And they see democracy as a way of putting the radicals into power.”
What Muslims are afraid of is freedom of speech. The want to intimidate the critics of Islam into silence, while they continue demographic conquest through immigration and high birth rates. They have enjoyed considerable success with this strategy. Our present system of democracy rewards those with high birth rates, which, for the present, means Muslims.
A democracy cannot be established in a genuinely Islamic country, at least not if “democracy” means anything more than the mere act of voting, with no restraints on state power and no safeguards for minorities. This is simply an advanced form of mob rule. If the meaning of “democracy” expands to include constitutional government, secular jurisprudence, the rule of law and equality before the law, and above all freedom of speech, then no — constitutional democracy cannot be reconciled with Islam. It is a waste of time and money to make the attempt.
Non-Muslims currently have the wrong focus. Trying to export democracy to Islamic countries such as Iraq is futile. As American blogger Lawrence Auster has pointed out, we should rather be protecting our own democracies at home against Islam. Writer Diana West has called for an anti-sharia defensive instead of a pro-democracy offensive as the preferred strategy in dealing with Muslims, which makes a lot of sense. Islam is utterly incompatible with human liberty in any meaningful sense of the word. However, Islam may be very well situated to exploit flaws in the democratic system and destroy it from within.
I have called for a global infidel strategy of containment of the Islamic world as far as possible, which includes banning Muslim immigration. This would eventually force Muslims to face up to the failures produced by their cultural system. Challenge your enemy where he is weak. Islam cannot tolerate freedom of speech, which is its greatest weakness. The United States is well-situated to make this challenge. It still has a relatively low number of Muslims and also retains strong legal protections of free speech. The greatest weapon Muslims fear in the American arsenal is the First Amendment. This rule, so wisely included in the Bill of Rights by the Founding Fathers, ensures individual freedom of speech against the tyranny of the majority.
If the United States wants to maintain what it sees as its moral leadership, it can begin by challenging Islamic censorship and intimidation. China doesn’t care, nor does Russia, while India has a huge Islamic fifth column to worry about. Europe is controlled by a Eurabian elite that is both unwilling and incapable of protecting free speech from Muslim intimidation, which is why many Europeans have become free speech refugees on American websites such as Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch and Charles Johnson’s Little Green Footballs.
While formal protection of free speech is important, social and informal censorship are equally challenging. At the end of the day, we will also have to shed the straitjackets of Multiculturalism and Political Correctness if our democratic system is to survive Islamic challenges as well as other attacks on our freedoms.