By Bruce Bower: Every now and then readers of this site, while thanking us for the coverage of the Islamization of Europe, have kindly asked if it’s possible for me to provide an occasional break from the endlessly depressing accounts of jihad and appeasement and dhimmitude and, quite simply, report on some good news for a change.
Point taken. Here, in recognition of the hopeful message of Christmas and the New Year’s promise, is a year-end dose of tidings of – well, not great joy, but at least possible positive turnarounds on various fronts.
- BRITAIN: Walking back a dhimmi policy
The Marks and Spencer story. This one went through the whole cycle (from proud corporate declaration of spineless dhimmitude to meek apology therefor) with incredible – and gratifying – rapidity.
Just a couple of days before Christmas, a customer of the posh London retailer told the Telegraph that a Muslim clerk had refused, albeit politely, to ring up her bottle of champagne because the item offended the clerk’s religious convictions. Confronted with this story, a spokesperson for M&S affirmed that, indeed, out of respect for Islam, the store had a policy of allowing Muslim workers to refuse to serve customers purchasing (for example) alcohol and pork, and to pass these haram customers on to other, less discriminating employees.
Result: a huge public outcry, including a Facebook page promoting an M&S boycott. Within hours, M&S was not only apologizing for its wrongheaded policy but (amusingly) insisting that, in fact, it had no such policy at all, and that in the champagne incident the store’s actual policy had not been properly followed.
- FRANCE: Walking back a dhimmi report
Here’s another example of outraged reactions to dhimmitude having a real effect. Earlier this month, Le Figaro revealed the contents of a new report – commissioned by France’s socialist prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault – which recommended a veritable blizzard of revolutionary acts by the government, from renaming streets and squares after immigrants to prohibiting the mention of transgressors’ ethnicity in the news media. Among much else, school curricula would be dramatically transformed to make them radically multicultural. Accepting the report on November 13, Ayrault promised that the recommendations would be acted upon tout de suite.
Then the protests started pouring in. “It will no longer be up to immigrants to adopt French culture,” charged Jean-Francois Cope, head of the opposition UMP party, “but up to France to abandon its culture, its values, its history to adapt to the culture of others.” Geoffrey Didier, also of UMP, called the report “a crime against republican assimilation and another step in the communitarian strategy of the Socialist Party.” And National Front leader Marine Le Pen denounced it as “a “declaration of war on the French who are calling for an end to the policy of mass immigration and the reaffirmation of our republican laws and values.” The nationwide outrage led one commentator to describe Ayrault as having “shot himself in the foot.” Confronted with the reaction, Ayrault did a snappy about-face, saying meekly: “Just because I get a report doesn’t mean it’s government policy.”
- BRITAIN: A Prince who May or May Not Be Snapping out of It
Over the years, Prince Charles’s gushing praise of Islam, his enthusiastic participation in Islamic ceremonies, and his occasional references to his own purportedly serious study of the religion have fed speculation that he was either a secret Muslim or was well on his way to becoming one. (A 1997 article in the Middle East Quarterly, entitled “Prince Charles of Arabia,” carefully sifted through the evidence for this proposition.) As recently as 2010, Charles gave a speech extolling Islamic “spiritual principles” as environment-friendly.
How surprising it was, then, to hear the Prince of Wales saying in a speech earlier this month that “we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are, increasingly, being deliberately attacked by fundamentalist Islamist militants.” Underscoring that he had been trying for twenty years “to build bridges between Islam and Christianity,” he lamented that “we have now reached a crisis where the bridges are rapidly being deliberately destroyed by those with a vested interest in doing so, and this is achieved through intimidation, false accusation and organised persecution, including to Christian communities in the Middle East at the present time.” Refreshingly, he made no apparent attempt to draw a false moral equivalency, to put the crisis down to the usual “interreligious tensions”: no, Charles actually said that Muslims were persecuting Christians, and condemned it outright.
This doesn’t mean he’s now a hero of the counterjihad resistance, but it’s something.
- NETHERLANDS: A King who May or May Not Be Snapping out of It
I’ve never, to say the least, been a fan of Willem-Alexander, who ascended to the Dutch throne this year upon the abdication of his mother. Beatrix was a notorious appeaser of Islam (opting, for example, to skip Theo van Gogh’s funeral and instead visit a Muslim community center), and in this respect Willem-Alexander didn’t seem to have fallen far from the Orange tree. Like Prince Charles, he’s publicly declared himself a student of Islam. Some years back, moreover, violating his own constitutional obligation to keep mum about politics, he responded to public statements by an elected Member of Parliament, Geert Wilders, by basically suggesting he clam up.
In short, I haven’t been inclined to expect much from this monarch. But all things are relative, and Dutch writer Joost Niemoller argued the other day that Willem-Alexander’s Christmas speech to his subjects revealed a sovereign who’s savvier than his mom about Islam. Now, I’ve read the speech, and don’t quite see it, but then again I’m not Dutch, and I haven’t made a study of Beatrix’s work in this genre, so I have to take Niemoller seriously when he says that the new king’s statements, however circumspect and coded, mark a real and promising departure. Whereas Beatrix delivered increasingly “militant” Christmas messages, which eventually became little more than party propaganda for the socialist D66 party, the king’s speech, maintained Niemoller, actually celebrated the message of Christmas – and thus the culture of the West – in a way that was decidedly non-multicultural. When he lamented the hatred that exists in the world, that’s passed down through the generations, and that leads to violence and terror, he didn’t speak the word Islam, but, Niemoller asserted, there could be no doubt that the king was “speaking about jihad.”
I want to believe Niemoller, but is his claim credible? I suppose we’ll know soon enough.
- BRITAIN: A Prime Minister who May or May Not Be Snapping out of It
Like Charles and Willem-Alexander, British prime minister David Cameron has never been anyone’s idea of a counterjihadist. As recently as October, he announced the establishment of a new British Islamic Market Index and the introduction of the first Islamic bond, or sukuk, to be issued by a non-Muslim nation. Thanks to the UK’s accommodation of sharia banking law, Cameron bragged, London is now “the biggest center for Islamic finance outside the Islamic world.”
But now? There’s no evidence that Cameron has had a Damascan road experience, but something is arguably going on. In October, for example, even as he was celebrating those new developments in Anglo-Islamic banking, a task force he’d set up recommended new state powers to limit the spread of what it identified as violent extremist Islamism. To be sure, in familiar fashion, the panel was at pains to distinguish this radical phenomenon from what it called traditional Islam; but the important, even striking, part was its acknowledgment that there is a link between Islam and violence – and that it can be legitimate, in at least some cases, to describe Islam not as a benign religion but as a dangerous ideology. It’s not everything, but it’s a step – and it puts Britain way ahead of the FBI, State Department, and U.S. military when it comes to calling a spade a spade.
There have been other positive signs from the Cameron camp. Earlier this month, after Universities UK gave the go-ahead for universities to segregate men and women in lecture audiences at Muslim speakers’ request, Education Secretary Michael Gove accused Universities UK of “pandering to extremism,” and Cameron, following up on Gove, firmly condemned the policy – whereupon Universities UK quickly reversed itself. Then, a couple of days ago, came the news that Cameron’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, was stripping jihadists who’d gone to fight in Syria of their UK citizenship. Yes, it’s nothing more than a common-sense move, but common sense is precisely what’s been missing from Britain’s Islam policy for a long time.
In short: no, these aren’t earthshaking developments by any measure. But with counterjihad, as with jihad, every little bit counts.