The superb Michael Radu, Senior Fellow and Co-Chair of the Center on Terrorism and Counterterrorism at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, here dares to ask the hard questions about the future of European freedom of religion and secularism in the face of increasing Islamic militancy.
Radu recounts some of the recent controversies in Europe over the Islamic headscarf, and then gets to the heart of the matter: “The issue of the Islamic scarf, everybody agrees, goes far beyond the whims of two impressionable teenagers, to the very fundamental issues of laicitÃ© (secularism) as a fundamental aspect of the French Republic. It also reflects the ability, or lack thereof, of the country”s millions of Muslims to integrate in or accept the values of the French society. In a larger context, the issue raises some fascinating dilemmas for the Left, inasmuch as it conflicts between its historic hostility to religion and religious symbols and its beliefs in ‘multiculturalism,’ with a promiscuous definition of tolerance.”
Could we someday face the same dilemmas here? “From Aubervilliers to Karlsruhe to GÃ¶teborg to Granada — and perhaps soon, Detroit – the issue appears to be more or less the same. It is not nearly as confusing or ‘complex’ as the liberals would make it. Are Western values like freedom of religion and secularism to be sacrificed as ‘outdated’ in a ‘multiculturalist’ [society]? How ironic that the same people who applaud the prohibition of any church or synagogue in Saudi Arabia support a ‘democratic right’ to build Europe’s largest mosque very close to the Vatican.”