Quite likely the British will reach the same conclusion the French already have, to wit: Islamic terrorism on European soil has its roots in the Middle East. "British Islam"--the behavior and spiritual practice of Muslims in the United Kingdom--it will be said, is by and large a progressive force standing against pernicious and retrograde ideas emanating from the Middle East. There are big problems of acculturation at home in mother England, all will confess, but the holy-warrior mentality is imported.
This view, however, may turn out to be dead wrong. What was once unquestionably an import has gone native, mutated, and grown. Some of what the Europeans are now confronting--and for the United States this is very bad news--is probably a locally generated Islamic militancy that is as retrograde and virulent as anything encountered in the Middle East. "European Islam" appears to be an increasingly radicalizing force intellectually and in practice. The much-anticipated Muslim moderates of Europe--the folks French scholar Gilles Kepel believes will produce "extraordinary progress in civilization," a new "Andalusia" (the classical Arabic word for Moorish Spain) that will save us from Osama bin Laden's jihad--have so far not developed with the same gusto as the Muslim activists who have dominated too many mosques in "Londonistan" and elsewhere in Europe. Moderates surely represent the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Europe, but like their post-Christian European counterparts, they usually express their moderation in detachment from religious affairs.
Though Europeans often fail to see it, the secularization of the Muslims living in their midst has been, by and large, a great success. It explains why Muslim activists gain so much attention, be they arch-conservatives, like the devotees of the Tabligh movement in Britain and on the continent who espouse segregation in Europe, or "progressives," like the Switzerland-based intellectual Tariq Ramadan, who refuses forthrightly to declare the Muslim Holy Law null and void as a political testament for Muslims in a European democracy. The moderates have abandoned the field. They have become European. The militants, who perhaps should be seen as deviants from a largely successful process of secularization, are the only ones left ardently praying.
This analysis seems to be spot on. It obviously explains why the so-called "moderate" Muslim has not taken up opposition to the extremists with the ferver that the West anticipated. Gerecht goes on to say:
In Europe as elsewhere, Westernization is the key to the growth and virulence of hard-core Islamic radicalism. The most frightening, certainly the most effective, adherents of bin Ladenism are those who are culturally and intellectually most like us. The process of Westernization liberates a Muslim from the customary sanctions and loyalties that normally corralled the dark side of the human soul. Respect for one's father, an appreciation for the human need to have fun, a toleration of eccentricity and naughty personal behavior, the love of art and folk music--all are characteristics of traditional mainstream Muslim society wiped away by the arrival of modernity and the simultaneous spread of sterile, esthetically empty, angry, Saudi-financed Wahhabi thought. In this sense, bin Ladenism is the Muslim equivalent of Western totalitarianism. This cleaning of the slate, this break with the past, is probably more profound in the Muslim enclaves in Europe--what Gilles Kepel called les banlieues de l'Islam--than it is in the urban sprawl of Cairo, where traditional mores, though under siege and badly battered by modernity, nevertheless retain considerable force. Cairo gave us Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's great intellectual; it's not unreasonable to fear that London or Paris or Berlin will give us his successor.
There is so much insight in this article, that I urge you to read it all. Gerecht is correct in asserting that the rise of the Muslim Jihadist fills a gaping hole made by the almost total eradication of the lethal leftist totalitarianisms of the 20th century. As he says, they represent the Muslim equivalent of Western totalitarianism--and they are the natural heirs to all those monsters throughout human history who have sought power in order to enslave other humans to their desires.
The only way to fight this mentality is to continue the slow march toward universal human freedom and democratic nations that embrace life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
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