Lawrence Solomon writes in the Canadian National Post, with thanks to Stranger.
The Muslims refused to assimilate. They were expelled. This was the story in Europe 400 years ago. We are watching the sequel today.
Europeans are rarely welcoming to outsiders, even when the outsiders are blond and blue-eyed and come from the country next door. When the outsiders are un-European, swarthy and Muslim, they are tolerated at best. When some Muslims also insist that Europeans stop acting like Europeans, on pain of death, European tolerance comes to an end.
In the clash of cultures between secular Europeans and extremist Muslims, there can ultimately be no compatibility or compromise, only loss by one side or the other of the absolute values it holds dear. European capitulation on European soil, where they remain the dominant majority, is unlikely: Europeans revel in their liberty to mock religion, to poke fun at sacred cows, to be outrageous, even to offend…
Many Europeans fear their Muslim populations. In Switzerland, 25% consider Muslims a threat to their country. In Italy, half the population believes a “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West is underway and that Islam is “a religion more fanatical than any other.”
The fear debilitates but it also stiffens resolve. The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, backs the Danish government’s refusal to apologize for the cartoons, saying, “It’s better to publish too much than not to have freedom.” France’s Sarkozy prefers “an excess of cartooning to an excess of censorship.” Italy’s Northern League Party, a member of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition government, printed T-shirts sporting the cartoons in advance of elections in April. The U.K. this week passed legislation broadening the right of free speech, no matter how offensive, barring a specific intent to provoke hatred.
Europe’s Muslims now know that they are expected to integrate or to depart. Four centuries ago, after decades of threats of expulsion, forced conversions and other failed attempts to assimilate Muslims, complaints about them — their use of Arabic, their clothes, their rejection of Western culture — were similar. “They marry among themselves and do not mix with Old Christians,” complained one report of Spain’s Moriscos (Muslims who had undergone forced conversions to Christianity). Riots by Muslims at offences perpetrated upon them added to tensions. In the end, still not assimilated, most were expelled.