Back in August 2005, I wrote that:
Muslims seem to have forgotten that the recent decades of Western European tolerance is really not part of their history... quite the contrary. FirstA couple of days ago, The New York Times featured an article by their European correspondents that stated:
Spain, then Denmark, now ; these are strategic mistakes by the Islamic radicals. Britain
BRUSSELS, Oct. 10 — Europe appears to be crossing an invisible line regarding its Muslim minorities: more people in the political mainstream are arguing that Islam cannot be reconciled with European values....Yes, Europe is beginning the process of isolating and removing the Muslim culture from its boundaries. It is not going to be pleasant, but it is wholly expected.
For years those who raised their voices were mostly on the far right. Now those normally seen as moderates — ordinary people as well as politicians — are asking whether once unquestioned values of tolerance and multiculturalism should have limits.
Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of Britain, a prominent Labor politician, seemed to sum up the moment when he wrote last week that he felt uncomfortable addressing women whose faces were covered with a veil. The veil, he wrote, is a “visible statement of separation and difference.”
So strong is the fear that Dutch values of tolerance are under siege that the government last winter introduced a primer on those values for prospective newcomers to Dutch life: a DVD briefly showing topless women and two men kissing. The film does not explicitly mention Muslims, but its target audience is as clear as its message: embrace our culture or leave.
Perhaps most wrenching has been the issue of free speech and expression, and the growing fear that any criticism of Islam could provoke violence.
In France last month, a high school teacher went into hiding after receiving death threats for writing an article calling the Prophet Muhammad “a merciless warlord, a looter, a mass murderer of Jews and a polygamist.” In Germany a Mozart opera with a scene of Muhammad’s severed head was canceled because of security fears.
With each incident, mainstream leaders are speaking more plainly. “Self-censorship does not help us against people who want to practice violence in the name of Islam,” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said in criticizing the opera’s cancellation. “It makes no sense to retreat.”