Violence is oozing through the cracks of European society like pus out of a broken scab. Just when liberal opinion congratulated itself that Europe had forsaken its violent past, the specter of civil violence has the continent terrified. That is the source of the uproar over a February 7 speech by Archbishop Rowan Williams, predicting the inevitable acceptance of Muslim sharia law in Great Britain.
Not since World War II has British opinion been provoked to the present level of outrage. Writing in the Times of London, the editor of the London Spectator, Matthew d’Ancona, quoted former British Conservative parliamentarian Enoch Powell’s warning that concessions to alien cultures would cause “rivers of blood” to flow in the streets of England. Times columnist Minette Marin accuses the archbishop of treason.
Coercion in the Muslim communities of Europe is so commonplace that duly constituted governments there no longer wield a monopoly of violence. Behind the law there stands the right of the state to inflict violence, and the legitimacy of states rests on what German political economist and sociologist Max Weber once called “the monopoly of violence.” Once this right is conceded to private groups, the legitimacy of government crumbles. No one appreciates this more than the British, whose tradition of protecting individual rights under law is the oldest and strongest in the West, excepting the United States, which inherited English Common Law.
By proposing to concede a permanent role to extralegal violence in the political life of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury pushed his phlegmatic countrymen over the edge. No one is better than the British at pretending that problems really aren’t there, but once their spiritual leader admits to an alien source of coercion and proposes to legitimize it, they understand that a limit has been reached.
Williams’ exercise in what might be termed the Higher Hypocrisy shows how deeply Europe has descended into the Dar al-Harb, or the “House of War” in the Muslim terms for all that lies outside the “house of submission,” or Dar al-Islam. Europe’s governments refuse to rule, that is, refuse to enforce their own laws because they fear violence on the part of Muslim immigrant communities who refuse to accept these laws. “No-go” zones proliferate that non-Muslims dare not enter. In the United Kingdom, according to evidence presented by respected journalists and public-interest organizations, Muslim community organizations, Muslim police officers and medical personnel collaborate to stop women from escaping domestic violence.
The erring spiritual leader of the Church of England persuades me that Europe’s Man of Destiny is the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who for two years has lived in hiding under constant police protection for the crime of criticizing Islam. It is a measure of the degradation of Europe’s body politic that is only one means to expose the motives of Williams and his ilk, namely to draw fire from Muslims who overtly threaten violence against any public figure who questions the authority of Islam.
Contrary to his critics, Wilders is not provoking violence. The violence is already there, a matter of workaday fact in Muslim enclaves throughout Europe. In an act of great personal courage, Wilders is enticing violent elements out of the tall grass in order to expose them to public opprobrium.
It is triply hypocritical when Williams, the spiritual leader of the Church of England, speaks of sharia law as if it were a private matter of conscience between consenting parties, rather like the use of rabbinical courts by Orthodox Jews. First, he admits outright that Muslim communities combine to coerce women but pretends that this is not relevant to sharia. Secondly, he offers concessions to sharia in the first place to appease the threat of social violence on the part of Muslims. As a final insult to conscience, he cites as his authority on sharia Professor Tariq Ramadan, who notoriously refuses to condemn the stoning of women for adultery, precisely because Muslim legal rulings specifically endorse such violence.
There is overwhelming documentation that Muslim entities in Britain wield the threat and fact of violence against dissenters, particularly the most vulnerable, namely young women. The fact is so scandalous that in his February 7 address, Williams felt compelled to address it directly, in order to insist that the subject fell entirely outside the issue of law – a conclusion he must know to be false.
Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, the bishop of Rochester, warned on January 7 of the spread of “no-go” zones in England that non-Muslims dare not enter. As a result, Nazir-Ali has received death threats against himself and his family and requires protection.
The British authorities will take measures to protect bishops from the threat of violence, but they leave to their own devices thousands of Muslim women. According to a February 2008 report by the Center for Social Cohesion, Islamist groups and individuals frequently link ideas of honor with the welfare of the Muslim world. By using words such as Ird and Namus in a political context, they imply that by protecting the chastity of Muslim women, the security and collective honor of Islam and Muslim states and individuals can also be defended. This politicization of women’s bodies helps create an environment where the abuse and control of women is tolerated.
Muslim communities, the report documents, terrorize women who refuse arranged marriages or otherwise break with social norms:
Almost all refuges dealing with Asian women report on the existence of informal networks which exist to track down and punish – with death if necessary – women who are perceived as bringing shame on their family and community. In many cases, women fleeing domestic violence or forced marriages have been deliberately returned to their homes or betrayed to their families by policemen, councilors and civil servants of immigrant origin.
Muslim coercion against women extends to psychiatric hospitals, the Times of London’s religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill reported on February 7 (cited in Rod Dreher’s indispensable Crunchy Con blog, .) Glenhill quoted a women’s rights advocate as follows:
The men get tired of their wives. Or bored. Or maybe the wife objects to her daughter being forced into a marriage she doesn’t want. Or maybe she starts wearing Western clothes. There can be many reasons. The women are sent for assessment to a hospital. The GP [general practitioner] referring them is Muslim. The psychiatrist assessing them is Muslim and male. I have sat in these assessments where the psychiatrist will not look the woman patient in the eye because she is a woman. Can you imagine! A psychiatrist refusing to look his patient in the eye? The woman speaks little or no English. She is sectioned (committed to a psychiatric ward). She is divorced. There are lots of these women in there, locked up in these hospitals. Why don’t you people write about this?
That brings us back to the archbishop of Canterbury, who acknowledged the fact of coercion of women in his February 7 address, but insisted that because it belonged to “custom” rather than “religious law,” he preferred to change the subject:
Recognition of “supplementary jurisdiction” in some areas, especially family law, could have the effect of reinforcing in minority communities some of the most repressive or retrograde elements in them, with particularly serious consequences for the role and liberties of women. The “forced marriage” question is the one most often referred to here, and it is at the moment undoubtedly a very serious and scandalous one; but precisely because it has to do with custom and culture rather than directly binding enactments by religious authority, I shall refer to another issue.
That makes a lurid lie out of Williams’ bland assertion that adherence to sharia “assumes the voluntary consent or submission of the believer”:
Sharia depends for its legitimacy not on any human decision, not on votes or preferences, but on the conviction that it represents the mind of God … while such universal claims are not open for re-negotiation, they also assume the voluntary consent or submission of the believer, the free decision to be and to continue a member of the umma.
Williams was lying. His authority in matters of sharia is Ramadan, whom the Department of Homeland Security prevented from accepting an American university appointment. Ramadan set off a scandal In 2003 when he refused to condemn violence against women (calling instead for a “moratorium,” that is, a temporary cessation) precisely because Islamic law sanctions such violence. The Westernized Ramadan will twist himself into a pretzel rather than disagree with Islamic jurisprudence.
Six million Frenchmen watched Ramadan defend the stoning of women for the crime of adultery in a televised debate with the present President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, then the Interior Minister. As quoted by Paul Berman in The New Republic of June 4, 2007, the transcript reads as follows, Ramadan refuses outright to say that he is against stoning adulteresses:
Sarkozy: A moratorium … Mr Ramadan, are you serious?
Ramadan: Wait, let me finish.
Sarkozy: A moratorium, that is to say, we should, for a while, hold back from stoning women?
Ramadan: No, no, wait … What does a moratorium mean? A moratorium would mean that we absolutely end the application of all of those penalties, in order to have a true debate. And my position is that if we arrive at a consensus among Muslims, it will necessarily end. But you cannot, you know, when you are in a community … Today on television, I can please the French people who are watching by saying, “Me, my own position.” But my own position doesn’t count. What matters is to bring about an evolution in Muslim mentalities, Mr Sarkozy. It’s necessary that you understand …
Sarkozy: But, Mr Ramadan …
Ramadan: Let me finish.
Sarkozy: Just one point. I understand you, but Muslims are human beings who live in 2003 in France, since we are speaking about the French community, and you have just said something particularly incredible, which is that the stoning of women, yes, the stoning is a bit shocking, but we should simply declare a moratorium, and then we are going to think about it in order to decide if it is good … But that’s monstrous – to stone a woman because she is an adulterer! It’s necessary to condemn it!
Ramadan: Mr Sarkozy, listen well to what I am saying. What I say, my own position, is that the law is not applicable – that’s clear. But today, I speak to Muslims around the world and I take part, even in the United States, in the Muslim world … You should have a pedagogical posture that makes people discuss things. You can decide all by yourself to be a progressive in the communities. That’s too easy. Today my position is, that is to say, “We should stop.”
Sarkozy: Mr Ramadan, if it is regressive not to want to stone women, I avow that I am a regressive.
“You should have a pedagogical posture that makes people discuss things” such as stoning women, Ramadan insisted, which is to say that were he to condemn violence against women outright, he would be unable to speak to Muslim communities.
That is Williams’ source. Coming from the leader of a major Christian denomination, this depth of hypocrisy is satanic, if that word has any meaning at all.
Unlike his Church of England colleague, Bishop Nazir-Ali, Williams does not require a security detail. But it appears that every European journalist and politician who attacks Islam requires personal protection, starting with the stout-hearted Dutchman Wilders. In the cited New Republic report on Tariq Ramadan, Paul Berman reported:
When I met Hirsi Ali at a conference in Sweden last year, she was protected by no less than five bodyguards. Even in the United States she is protected by bodyguards. But this is no longer unusual. Buruma himself mentions in Murder in Amsterdam that the Dutch Social Democratic politician Ahmed Aboutaleb requires full-time bodyguards. At that same Swedish conference I happened to meet the British writer of immigrant background who has been obliged to adopt the pseudonym Ibn Warraq, out of fear that, in his case because of his Bertrand Russell-influenced philosophical convictions, he might be singled out for assassination.
I happened to attend a different conference in Italy a few days earlier and met the very brave Egyptian-Italian journalist Magdi Allam, who writes scathing criticisms of the new totalitarian wave in Il Corriere della Sera – and I discovered that Allam, too, was traveling with a full complement of five bodyguards. The Italian journalist Fiamma Nierenstein, because of her well-known sympathies for Israel, was accompanied by her own bodyguards. Caroline Fourest, the author of the most important extended criticism of Ramadan, had to go under police protection for a while. The French philosophy professor Robert Redeker has had to go into hiding …
So Salman Rushdie has metastasized into an entire social class, a subset of the European intelligentsia – its Muslim wing especially – who survive only because of their bodyguards and their own precautions. This is unprecedented in Western Europe during the last 60 years.
Postscript: I had not intended to mention James J Sheehan’s silly book on Europe’s postwar conversion to pacifism, Where Have All the Soldiers Gone?, the object of many glowing reviews by soft-headed liberals, most recently by Geoffrey Wheatcroft in the February 8 New York Times. Sheehan admires modern Europe for abandoning war; it does not occur to him that Europe also has abandoned being European. Abysmal non-immigrant fertility rates condemn most of Europe’s peoples to effective extinction during the next century or two. It deserves a one-word review by Homer Simpson, namely, “Doh.” If there are to be no future generations, what soldier will lay down his life for them? The word “demographics” does not appear once in Sheehan’s plodding account, which liberal reviewers praised as if it were a roadmap to the millennium.
Sheehan is woefully misguided. Europe may not have war, but it already has violence: its political authorities cringe and scurry and evade and lie in the face of actual or threatened violence by its Muslim communities. If its duly constituted governments abandon their monopoly of violence to self-appointed religious leaders, the likelihood is that a river of blood will flow, just as Powell warned in 1968.