Sunday, November 21, 2004
Arnaud De Borchgrave: EUROPE'S CIVIL WAR?.
It was such Dutch tolerance, pragmatism and guilt about the country's colonial past that allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Muslim Indonesia (a Dutch colony from the 17th century until World War II) to flood into tiny Holland. Today, Muslims are a majority among children under 14 in the Netherlands' four largest cities.
There are 1 million Muslims (6 percent of the population) now living in Europe's most crowded small country. Some 30,000 new Muslims arrive every year. They tend to live among themselves, with their own schools, mosques and restaurants. Most are horrified by what they view as sacrilegious in their own religion. Their imams speak no Dutch and know nothing of the Netherlands' history and culture.
Western Europe as a whole gets about half a million new Muslims a year. Most make their way from sub-Saharan and North Africa, illegal immigrants smuggled by boat to Spain and Italy where they are free to travel with impunity to the rest of Europe. Thus, Europe's Muslim population has doubled to 20 million in the last 10 years.
THE anti-Muslim backlash spawned far right-wing parties. Belgium's highest court last week ruled the anti-immigration Flemish Bloc party — the most popular political force in Dutch-speaking Flanders — will lose the government subsidies allocated to all parties, and is now forced to disband. It quickly renamed itself the Flemish Interest Party, and toned down its inflammatory rhetoric.
Europe's largest mosque is in Rotterdam, which is also Europe's busiest port. Half the people there are of foreign origin. Unemployment among the Muslims is high. And the Dutch live-and-let-live permissiveness made this nation, a quarter of it below sea level and protected by 1,500 dikes, ideal breeding grounds for Muslim fundamentalism and the kind of extremism that spawned one of Osama bin Laden's European fan clubs.