Written by Daniel Pipes
April 15, 2008
by Daniel Pipes
The future of Europe is in play. Will it turn into "Eurabia," a part of the Muslim world? Will it remain the distinct cultural unit it has been over the last millennium? Or might there be some creative synthesis of the two civilizations?
The answer has vast importance. Europe may constitute a mere 7 percent of the world's landmass but for five hundred years, 1450-1950, for good and ill, it was the global engine of change. How it develops in the future will affect all humanity, and especially daughter countries such as Australia which still retain close and important ties to the old continent.
I foresee potentially one of three paths for Europe: Muslims dominating, Muslims rejected, or harmonious integration.
(1) Muslim domination strikes some analysts as inevitable. Oriana Fallaci found that "Europe becomes more and more a province of Islam, a colony of Islam." Mark Steyn argues that much of the Western world "will not survive the twenty-first century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most European countries." Such authors point to three factors leading to Europe's Islamization: faith, demography, and a sense of heritage.
The secularism that predominates in Europe, especially among its elites, leads to alienation about the Judeo-Christian tradition, empty church pews, and a fascination with Islam. In complete contrast, Muslims display a religious fervor that translates into jihadi sensibility, a supremacism toward non-Muslims, and an expectation that Europe is waiting for conversion to Islam.
The contrast in faith also has demographic implications, with Christians having on average 1.4 children per woman, or about one third less than the number needed to maintain their population, and Muslims enjoying a dramatically higher, if falling, fertility rate. Amsterdam and Rotterdam are expected to be in about 2015 the first large majority-Muslim cities. Russia could become a Muslim-majority country in 2050. To employ enough workers to fund existing pension plans, Europe needs millions of immigrants and these tend to be disproportionately Muslim due to reasons of proximity, colonial ties, and the turmoil in majority-Muslim countries.
In addition, many Europeans no longer cherish their history, mores, and customs. Guilt about fascism, racism, and imperialism leave many with a sense that their own culture has less value than that of immigrants. Such self-disdain has direct implications for Muslim immigrants, for if Europeans shun their own ways, why should immigrants adopt them? When added to the already-existing Muslim hesitations over much that is Western, and especially what concerns sexuality, the result are Muslim populations that strongly resist assimilation.
The logic of this first path leads to Europe ultimately becoming an extension of North Africa.
(2) But the first path is not inevitable. Indigenous Europeans could resist it and as they make up 95 percent of the continent's population, they can at any time reassert control, should they see Muslims posing a threat to a valued way of life.
This impulse can already be seen at work in the French anti-hijab legislation or in Geert Wilders' film, Fitna. Anti-immigrant parties gain in strength; a potential nativist movement is taking shape across Europe, as political parties opposed to immigration focus increasingly on Islam and Muslims. These parties include the British National Party, Belgium's Vlaamse Belang, France's Front National, the Austrian Freedom Party, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, the Danish People's Party, and the Swedish Democrats.
They will likely continue to grow as immigration surges ever higher, with mainstream parties paying and expropriating their anti-Islamic message. Should nationalist parties gain power, they will likely seek to reject multiculturalism, cut back on immigration, encourage repatriation of immigrants, support Christian institutions, increase indigenous European birthrates, and broadly attempt to re-establish traditional ways.
Muslim alarm will likely follow. American author Ralph Peters sketches a scenario in which "U.S. Navy ships are at anchor and U.S. Marines have gone ashore at Brest, Bremerhaven or Bari to guarantee the safe evacuation of Europe's Muslims." Peters concludes that because of European's "ineradicable viciousness," its Muslims "are living on borrowed time" As Europeans have "perfected genocide and ethnic cleansing," Muslims, he predicts, "will be lucky just to be deported," rather than killed. Indeed, Muslims worry about just such a fate; since the 1980s, they have spoken overtly about Muslims being sent to gas chambers.
Violence by indigenous Europeans cannot be precluded but nationalist efforts will more likely take place less violently; if any one is likely to initiate violence, it is the Muslims. They have already engaged in many acts of violence and seem to be spoiling for more. Surveys indicate, for instance, that about 5 percent of British Muslims endorse the 7/7 transport bombings. In brief, a European reassertion will likely lead to on-going civil strife, perhaps a more lethal version of the fall 2005 riots in France.
(3) The ideal outcome has indigenous Europeans and immigrant Muslims finding a way to live together harmoniously and create a new synthesis. A 1991 study, La France, une chance pour l'Islam (France, an Opportunity for Islam) by Jeanne-HÃ©lÃ¨ne Kaltenbach and Pierre Patrick Kaltenbach promoted this idealistic approach. Despite all, this optimism remains the conventional wisdom, as suggested by an Economist leader of 2006 that concluded that dismissed for the moment at least, the prospect of Eurabia as "scaremongering."
This is the view of most politicians, journalists, and academics but it has little basis in. Yes indigenous Europeans could yet rediscover their Christian faith, make more babies, and again cherish their heritage. Yes, they could encourage non-Muslim immigration and acculturate Muslims already living in Europe. Yes, Muslim could accept historic Europe. But not only are such developments not now underway, their prospects are dim. In particular, young Muslims are cultivating grievances and nursing ambitions at odds with their neighbors.
One can virtually dismiss from consideration the prospect of Muslims accepting historic Europe and integrating within it. U.S. columnist Dennis Prager agrees: "It is difficult to imagine any other future scenario for Western Europe than its becoming Islamicized or having a civil war."
But which of those two remaining paths will the continent take? Forecasting is difficult because crisis has not yet struck. But it may not be far off. Within a decade perhaps, the continent's evolution will become clear as the Europe-Muslim relationship takes shape.
The unprecedented nature of Europe's situation also renders a forecast exceedingly difficult. Never in history has a major civilization peaceably dissolved, nor has a people ever risen to reclaim its patrimony. Europe's unique circumstances make them difficult to comprehend, tempting to overlook, and virtually impossible to predict. With Europe, we all enter into terra incognita.
Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube/Diller distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. He is in Australia for the Intelligence Squared debate to take place this evening in Sydney. This article derives from a talk he delivered yesterday to the Quadrant.