Questions From The Berlin Playbook


A Muslim Europe Is The Goal

logo_caesar_35pxHere are a political scientist’s patient answers to some lazy questions from the liberal journalist’s Berlin playbook on mass immigration.

Efraim Karsh is professor of political science at the Bar-Ilan University, near Tel-Aviv. His assertion in the article that the first generation of muslim immigrants in Europe integrated economically, although not socially, would have benefited from some supporting detail. While there is no doubt about the absence of social integration, one is left wondering in what sense economic integration was achieved. The malicious answer would be: integration into the generous European welfare systems. But given the probable labour-market discrimination operating then as now, which Karsh brushes aside too quickly, perhaps it was largely a case of muslim enclaves running their own more or less insulated economies. Answers on Facebook, please.

14th May 2016


Die Weltwoche | Pierre Heumann and Julia Törmälä (Bild)
A Muslim Europe Is The Goal

The Israeli historian Efraim Karsh is one of the most prominent authorities on the Middle East. He views the mass migration into Europe with a jaundiced eye. The migrants aren’t interested in integration.

The West is bearing the blame for the conflict in the Middle East — colonialism and military intervention are the cause of the turmoil in the east, say many pundits. That’s a misjudgement, says the Israeli political scientist, Efraim Karsh, one based on many years of study. The origin of the Middle Eastern tragedy is not to be sought in Western capitals, but in an historic mistake of the now defunct Ottoman Empire. It’s not the West that’s imperialistic, but Islam. Karsh warns of the danger of an Islamisation of Europe.

Die Weltwoche: Professor Karsh, Europe is undergoing a demographic revolution triggered by the refugees…

…I’m not fond of the expression “refugees”.

What’s wrong with it?

For the most part, it’s about migrants. Only a relatively small percentage come from war-zones like Syria. Many originate in Africa, from impoverished countries like Eritrea or Somalia. What they’re looking for is a better life. Obviously, a large part of the Third World is not as successful as Europe. That doesn’t mean that everyone who wants a European standard of living must live in Europe.

So whom should Europe accept?

That is for Europe to decide. However, Europe should not forget: the majority of immigrants are muslims.

Where’s the problem with that?

Immigrants from Southeast Asia, to take one example, actively seek to integrate themselves into society. Also, while they preserve a part of their cultural inheritance, they accept that they have arrived in a new environment whose social norms they have to live by. Muslim immigrants see that differently. In contrast to Christianity, Islam is still an expansionist religion. It strives for world domination. That’s why muslim minorities in host countries are not keen to integrate. They want to profit from the advantages that Western societies offer, while at the same time wishing to influence or even change them after their own ideas.

Better integration into the labour market would solve the problem.

By no means. It’s not a question of their having jobs, achieving a higher standard of living, and contributing to society.

What, then?

Europe stands at a decisive point in its history. If she accepts mass muslim immigration, Europe will in one or two generations be transformed into something totally different. Muslim societies are still very religious. The men are very devout, in a way that we in Europe don’t understand. Today in Britain, more muslims attend the mosque than Christians their churches, even though muslims account for a minority of the population.

Are you seriously foreshadowing a muslim Europe?

Everything of course depends on how many people Europe takes in over the next decade. Already today, Europe has a relatively large and fast-growing muslim population. They are reproducing much faster than the Europeans, whose birth-rate, as is well known, is declining.

That is precisely the reason why the West is dependent on immigration: to finance its social security.

I know the argument, but I can’t follow it. It’s true that through immigration the proportion of young people in the population rises. But then, so do the risks.

What risks?

The immigrants will bring with them something approaching the conditions of their home countries. European countries will then become Third World states, because the immigrants will impose their own values and customs on the Europeans, not the other way around. The argument from economic benefit is therefore nonsense. If Europeans are worried about their native populations stagnating, they should create the incentives to have more children, instead of taking people from what can only be called failed states. If the Swiss are today taking such an influx of people from failed states that they must eventually become a majority, Switzerland will no longer be Switzerland, but a failed state in Europe.

Have you been following the ‘handshake affair’ from Therwil, the town near Basel? [Male muslim students refused the customary handshake with female teachers. — Ed.]

Definitely, yes. (Laughs)

How do you suggest one should react when conservative muslims have such difficulty with contact between non-familial men and women?

Let’s talk about that now. Muslim migrants do not aim for integration. Islam is still in essence imperialist, in that it wants to rule the world. Muslims, even if they live in other societies, don’t see themselves as a minority that has a duty to respect the religious and cultural values of their host countries. They see those societies as part of the ‘House of Islam’.

A somewhat sweeping statement. There are very many muslims who have succeeded in Western society.

Without doubt. But Islam is not going through the same process that, for example, Christianity has already completed: the separation of church and state, secularisation. Unlike Christianity, Islam has retained its expansionist spirit. I’m not being judgemental, but it’s a fact. Islam understands itself as a political faith. In common with Judaism, Islam is an all-encompassing religion, a way of life. Accordingly, muslims have their own values, which differ from ours.

Where do you see the important differences?

In that their religious leader has the upper hand, politically. Wherever possible, religion and politics are mingled together, for example in Iran, in Saudi Arabia, in the Islamic State. IS is no pathological deviation from Islam.

But there are several interpretations of Islam.

But if you are a true muslim, you will want to follow Sharia law. That means, for example, amputation of the hand for theft. In Iran, a country now courted by Europe, adulterers are stoned to death.

How can Islam be reformed, in your opinion?

Naturally, there are also moderate currents in Islam. But I’m no social scientist; it’s the political aspects of Islam that interest me primarily. In Christianity, Jesus is a spiritual figure, a preacher, absolutely not a political or military leader. It is quite otherwise in Islam. Mohammed was from the outset a political and military commander-in-chief. From this, the concept of jihad was developed, to spur men on into battle.

Jihad, however, can also be understood as a spiritual endeavour, not necessarily just as a call to war.

Some Western interpretations of Islam say that, it’s true. But they’re wrong. Jihad means to campaign for Allah and his ‘way’. When the Ottoman Empire declared jihad on Russia, France and Britain, it wasn’t just about encouraging Ottoman citizens to study the Koran at home and pray in the mosques. Jihad is jihad is jihad – and everyone knows what is meant by that. Of course, you can talk yourself into believing that jihad is a synonym for giving alms to the needy: that sounds nice, but it’s false. (Laughs). Such blandishments are part of Western attempts to defuse Islam. Take US president Barack Obama: in connection with terrorism, he talks not about islamic extremism or Islamism, but about militant extremists.

Is he straining to be politically correct?

Whoever mis-states and mis-identifies a problem, cannot come to grips with it. Correct diagnosis is an important step towards problem-solving.

There is, however, a connection between poverty and terror. Whether muslim or not, whoever suffers need, is likely to resort to violence.

I see that differently. Terrorists are not generally poor people who struggle and sweat in order to support their families. Radical activists, ready to use violence, are usually well-educated people who lack for nothing. Yasser Arafat was an engineer; among terrorists you find doctors, students, or the sons of filthy-rich parents, such as Osama bin Laden. The poor are less militant than the well-trained and educated: we know this from surveys and many examples. The idea that we have only to provide enough jobs with good salaries for immigrants to become good, terrorism-renouncing Europeans, is utter nonsense.

Nevertheless, the first generation of muslim immigrants has integrated well.

But their children have a problem with the West.

Because the labour market discriminates against them on account of their Arabic names.

That is often asserted, but is nevertheless false. The first generation integrated economically but not socially. Had they really become Europeans, their children would not have struck out on the road to jihad. Other minorities are different in that respect. Take the Italians, Chinese or Jews in America: initially, they were outsiders, yet their children are today integrated. It comes down to intermarriage, they assimilate, they live and accept the American Way of Life.

Why is it different for muslims?

Most ethnic minorities can integrate and adapt themselves to the new environment of their host countries without giving up their religious, social and cultural traditions. Islam, rather, has not set aside its missionary zeal. Furthermore, it is imperialistic. That is why muslims do not seek to integrate. On the contrary, they want to impose their values on their adoptive societies. Long before the rise of Al-Qa’eda and the Islamic State, since the late 1980s, muslims saw the growing muslim community in France as proof that France was already part of the House of Islam. In Britain, even moderate muslims made no secret of their goals. The late Zaki Badawi, doyen of interfaith dialogue in Britain, said that Islam was a universal religion. Their goal is to carry the islamic message to all corners of the earth. One day, the whole of humanity will be a single muslim community, preached Badawi. And that from a moderate man! Again, the Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, declared in front of Swiss muslims in January 2015 in Zürich that Islam was Europe’s “indigenous” religion, and would remain so. Turkey would join the EU “with our language, our traditions, and our religion”. The West ignores that. That is why, one day, our grandchildren will wake up to find that they will be under the rule of Sharia law.

Who is supporting this global strategy?

The Muslim Brotherhood, for example. On their website it’s as clear as day that the world will become muslim in the end. Ayatollah Khomenei, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, spoke about this, and now we have the Islamic State. Hamas explicitly requires in its charter the re-establishment of Islamic law. According to the strategy, striving for the destruction of Israel would be for them only the first step towards bringing back the Caliphate. Many muslims in France have been saying for decades that, sooner or later, France itself will become part of the ‘House of Islam’. The goal of the muslims is a muslim Europe. Why else would they finance mosques in the West, including Switzerland? Why else are they founding chairs in Islamic studies at elite universities, or centres dedicated to the history of the Persian Gulf?

Is the collapse in the global oil price dampening the spread of Islam, because the sponsors of mosques and islamic centres are running out of money?

Perhaps Saudi Arabia will for the time being invest somewhat less in the dissemination of Islam. But the infrastructure is already in place. And perhaps the oil price will go up again. But it’s not all about money.

About what, then?

About conversions. In mixed marriages, predominantly it is the woman who converts to Islam. Besides, muslims try to enforce Sharia law in European cities. In Britain, there are already districts in which Sharia is de facto law. In certain cities, muslims despatch their vice-squads to ensure that women are modestly dressed.

Tolerance towards Islam is understandable, historically. The West feels guilty for the sins of colonialism.

That is madness. Regarding the Middle East, there is no reason at all for feelings of guilt. Apart from North Africa and Libya by the French, almost no part of the Middle East was colonised by the West. It’s true that after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, a system of mandates was established in parts of the Middle East, but with the goal of working towards independence. Outside influences played a secondary role in political development.

Objection: the British brought down the Ottoman Empire, and occupied Iran together with the Soviet Union; later, the West staged a coup d’état in Teheran, Israel was founded, Russia and the USA weighed in massively in Afghanistan then in Iraq. Are these not, for instance, external influences?

Yes, but these were extreme exceptions. And they were generally not attempts to aim for a regional order, but to respond to unintended consequences. Guilt, if you will, belongs to the Ottoman Empire.

How so?

The Ottoman Empire was in no way the hapless victim of a secret diplomacy that wanted to rob it of its territories. The downfall of the Ottomans was the result of their catastrophic decision in the First World War to join the wrong side. That was by a long chalk the most far-reaching decision in the history of the Middle East. Had the Ottoman Empire stayed out of the conflict, it would perhaps have survived the turmoil.

What has the mounting strength of Islam to do with the downfall of the Ottomans?

It’s about the response to it; about what happened after the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. The most important muslim power of the time was destroyed. Whereupon a struggle erupted over the legacy of the Ottomans. But the vacuum wasn’t filled, just superficially papered-over. The new power-brokers quelled Islamic power in order to secure their own hegemony. Now we are witnessing the break-out of aspirations for Islamic power that over many decades had been suppressed by dictators.

Why now?

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, regimes were set up that officially were not religious. They hoped, with a pan-Arab ideology, to be able to create an alternative to the Islamists. But underneath, Islam remained strong. And the dictators held fast to Islam as the state religion. Then in 1979 came the islamic revolution in Iran. Five years ago, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak was in the end too weakened to hold on to power. The Muslim Brotherhood, which followed him, was of course soon disempowered – but by a man who was also religious. Now Turkey is also on its way to more Islam. For all these reasons, the Middle East will be neither democratic, nor secular, nor western. Together with parts of North Africa, it will export Islam to Europe. Instead of the Middle East becoming more western, the West will become in time more middle-eastern and islamic.