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Muslim Autonomous Zones in the West?

daniel_pipes.jpgby Daniel Pipes
In "Europe's Stark Options," I considered the future of the Muslim-European encounter and conclude there are three possible futures, "harmonious integration, the expulsion of Muslims, or an Islamic takeover." I then dismissed the first as unrealistic and stated that it is too early to predict which of the latter two unattractive possibilities will come to pass.

A reader, Chris Slater of Upper Hutt, New Zealand, writes me to predict a fourth outcome as most likely: "larger existing Muslim areas will re-create themselves into independent national entities" and "by the middle of the twenty-first century nearly all western European countries will be riven by the creation of Islamic city states within their borders.

For the sake of brevity they will be referred to as ‘microstates,' that is, autonomous conurbations defined by the Islamic beliefs of their citizens."

Slater foresees boundaries being formed "around existing Muslim centres of population, initially in France, Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, followed rapidly by Britain, Norway, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Spain. Dates for eastern European states, particularly Orthodox, may be more difficult to predict, although Russia, with 15 percent of its 143 million people professing Islam, may well lead many western European countries in having an independent Islamic state. By the end of this century this process will affect every non-Islamic state throughout the world."

These microstates will enjoy a "monopoly on legitimate violence," impose their own autonomous legal order, and form alliances among themselves. They will feature such Shar‘i customs as polygyny, no-interest finance, huddud punishments, Islamic ways of dress, family "honor" codes, bans on criticism of Islam, and so on. Arabic and the dominant immigrant vernacular will enjoy more currency than the host country's language. Street names will be changed, statues removed, churches and synagogues converted to mosques.

Slater sees this outcome this as "the only way to avoid the destruction of both the national cultures and, indeed, European civilization from total domination by the cultures of Muslim immigrants."

Comments: (1) I prefer "Muslim autonomous zones" to "Muslim microstates."

(2) It's a plausible vision but I think the tensions between these microstates and the larger, Christian-origin polities will lead to the same two outcomes I have predicted, the expulsion of Muslims or a Muslim takeover. The microstate option implies a certain statis and stability but I expect things to remain dynamic: the Islamic polities will either grow and dominate or they will shrink and disappear. Perhaps some will dominate and others disappear. I cannot envisage a stable order along the lines Slater sketches out. Indeed, Slater's point about this arrangement providing the only way to avoid the destruction of European civilization tacitly acknowledges the inherent tensions: either old-stock Europeans will manage to hold their own or they will succumb. A compromise, middle way strikes me as highly unlikely.

(3) That said, this scenario of Muslim autonomous zones has no less likelihood than that of harmonious integration, so if that is listed, so should this one. (January 12, 2009)

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