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While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within (Anglais) Relié – 21 février 2006

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Description du produit



Before 9/11: Europe in Denial

ON THE MORNING OF November 2, 2004, I sat at my mother's kitchen table in Queens, New York, drinking instant coffee and thinking about George W. Bush and John Kerry. It was Election Day, and I was irked that since I was flying back home to Oslo that evening, I'd miss the vote count on TV.
The phone rang. "Hello? Oh, yes. Just a moment." My mother held out the phone. "It's Mark." I took it.


"Hi, Bruce. Have you heard about Theo van Gogh?"

"No, what?"

"He was murdered this morning."

"You're kidding."

Mark, like me, is an American with a Norwegian partner. But though he moved back to New York years ago, he still starts the day by checking the news at the Web site of NRK, Norway's national radio and TV network. Switching into Norwegian, he read me the story. Van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker and newspaper columnist, had been shot and killed in Amsterdam. Shortly afterward, police had arrested a twenty-six-year-old Dutch-Moroccan man.

Later, I'd learn more. Van Gogh had been bicycling to work along a street called Linnaeusstraat when Mohammed Bouyeri, the Dutch-born son of Moroccan parents and a member of a radical Muslim network, had shot him, knocking him off his bicycle. Bouyeri, wearing a long jellaba, pumped up to twenty additional bullets into van Gogh's body, stabbed him several times, and slit his throat. He then pinned to van Gogh's chest with a knife a five-page letter addressed to the filmmaker's collaborator, Parliament member Ayaan Hirsi Ali, quoting the Koran and promising her and several other Dutch leaders (whom he named) a similar end:

I know definitely that you, O America, will go down. I know definitely that you, O Europe, will go down. I know definitely that you, O Netherlands, will go down. I know definitely that you, O Hirsi Ali, will go down.

According to witnesses, van Gogh had said to his murderer (who at the time was living on welfare payments from the Dutch government): "Don't do it! Don't do it! Mercy! Mercy!" And: "Surely we can talk about this." The blunt, outspoken van Gogh had been an unsparing critic of European passivity in the face of fundamentalist Islam; unlike most Europeans, he'd understood the connection between the war on terror and the European integration crisis, and had called America "the last beacon of hope in a steadily darkening world." Together he and Hirsi Ali had made a short film, Submission--he'd directed, she'd written the script--about the mistreatment of women in Islamic cultures. Yet at the end, it seemed, even he had grasped at the Western European elite's most unshakable article of faith--the belief in peace and reconciliation through dialogue.

At first glance, Hirsi Ali might have seemed an unlikely ally for van Gogh: a vivacious Somali-born beauty who'd forsworn her native Islam, she was devoted to the preservation of Dutch democracy and the rescue of her country's Muslims--especially women--from the tyranny of their subculture. I'd read a good deal about her in the Dutch press and hoped to write about her myself; in fact, a friend of mine who worked for an Oslo think tank had arranged to meet her in The Hague the following Monday and had invited me to go along. I'd already booked the flight.

Van Gogh's murder came as a shock, even though I'd seen something like it coming for years. In 1998, I'd lived in a largely Muslim neighborhood of Amsterdam, only a block away from the radical mosque attended by Bouyeri. There I'd seen firsthand the division between the native Dutch and their country's rapidly growing Muslim minority. That division was stark: the Dutch had the world's most tolerant, open-minded society, with full sexual equality, same-sex marriage, and libertarian policies on soft drugs and prostitution. Yet many Dutch Muslims kept that society at arm's length, despising its freedoms and clinging to a range of undemocratic traditions and prejudices.

Did Dutch officials address this problem? No. Like their politically correct counterparts across Western Europe, they responded to it mostly by churning out empty rhetoric about multicultural diversity and mutual respect--and then changing the subject. I knew that by tolerating intolerance in this way, the country was setting itself on a path to cataclysmic social confrontation; yet whenever I tried--delicately--to broach the topic, Dutch acquaintances made clear that it was off limits. They seemed not to grasp that their society, and Western Europe generally, was a house divided against itself, and that eventually things would reach the breaking point.

Then came 9/11. Most Americans were quick to understand that they were at war and recognized the need for a firm response (though there was, and continues to be, much disagreement as to whether the response decided upon was the right one). Yet while most Western European countries participated in the invasion of Afghanistan and several helped topple Saddam, America's forceful approach alienated opinion makers across the continent and opened up a philosophical gulf that sometimes seemed as wide as the Atlantic itself.

Why was there such a striking difference in perspectives between the two halves of the democratic West? One reason was that the Western European establishment--the political, media, and academic elite that articulates what we think of as "European opinion"--tended to regard all international disputes as susceptible to peaceful resolution. It was therefore ill equipped to respond usefully to sustained violence by a fierce, uncompromising adversary. Another reason was Western Europe's large immigrant communities, many of them led by fundamentalist Muslims who looked forward to the establishment in Europe of a caliphate governed according to sharia law--the law of the Koran--and who viewed Islamist terrorists as allies in a global jihad, or holy war, dedicated to that goal. A fear of inflaming minorities who took their lead from such extremists was one more reason to tread gently. Few European politicians had challenged this passivity. The Dutchman Pim Fortuyn had done so, and been murdered for it. Not even the March 2004 bombings in Madrid--"Europe's 9/11"--had fully awakened Europe's sleeping elite.

True, not all European Muslims shared the terrorists' goals and loyalties. Many, one gathered, were grateful to be living in democracies. Yet even they seemed hamstrung by the belief that loyalty to the umma (the worldwide Islamic community) overrode any civic obligations to their kaffir (infidel) neighbors. Hence most European Muslims responded passively to van Gogh's murder. Few spoke up against the extremists in their midst. The pressure--from without and within--to stick by their own was, it appeared, simply too overwhelming. And the potential price for betrayal was an end not unlike that dealt out to Theo van Gogh.

That evening I flew back to Oslo. At one point, over the Atlantic, the pilot got on the loudspeaker with an update on the U.S. presidential race, telling us how many electoral votes each candidate had secured so far. Bush was ahead. But not until I was standing at the baggage carousel in Oslo--barely awake after a sleepless night over the Atlantic--did I learn how the vote had turned out. On an electronic news crawl above the carousel I read the words bush gjenvalgt--Bush reelected.

I had mixed feelings about the victory: while the president seemed to have a far greater understanding than his opponent of what we were fighting against in the war on terror, some of his domestic actions made me wonder which of the candidates had a stronger sense of what we were fighting for. But in New York City and the Western European capitals, I knew, there was little ambiguity. Bush's win was bad news--period.

Two days later I was in Amsterdam, where van Gogh's murder was being called the Netherlands' 9/11. Understandably, Hirsi Ali had canceled all appointments; but since I'd already booked a flight and a hotel room--and was curious to see people's reactions firsthand--I went anyway.

It was easy to be lulled by the illusion that things were as they always had been. At the Amstel Taveerne, one of Amsterdam's trademark "brown cafes," there was tub-thumping music, easy laughter, even a rousing chorus of "Lang zal je leven" ("Long may you live") to mark a patron's birthday--in short, that feeling of communal coziness and camaraderie, known as gezelligheid, that the Dutch treasure above all. Yet this impression was misleading. The Netherlands, I knew, was undergoing a sea change. By the time I'd arrived in Amsterdam, there'd been several arrests; legislators had been placed under round-the-clock protection; government buildings in The Hague looked like an armed camp. Vice Premier Gerrit Zalm, who'd called Fortuyn dangerous because of his blunt rhetoric about Islam, now declared war on radical Islamism. Politically correct attitudes about immigration and integration, until a week earlier ubiquitous in the Dutch media, were hardly to be found. "Jihad has reached the Netherlands," one commentator wrote. Another asked: "Has the Netherlands become a country in which you can no longer say what you want, or does the taboo apply only to [comments about] Islam?" (This was a nation, after all, to which philosophers and poets from all corners of Europe had fled centuries ago to be able to speak and write freely.)

I found my way to the scene of the crime. I foolishly assumed I'd have trouble locating the exact spot. In fact, an area of about seventy-five by ten feet along one side of Linnaeusstraat had been cordoned off. It was piled high with floral tributes, and about fifty people crowded around it, most of them deep in thought. I circled the site slowly, reading notes that had been left there. "This far and no further," read one. Another read: "Long live the Net...

Revue de presse

“Bruce Bawer reveals how self-acclaimed European morality proves abjectly amoral in its appeasement of radical Islamic anti-Semitism, homophobia, gender apartheid, and religious intolerance. A sensitive and sober portrait of an increasingly insensitive and reckless continent.”
—Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author of Carnage and Culture and An Autumn of War

“An honest and engaging account of a problem which, if left unaddressed, could engulf Europe in conflict. Europeans would do well to heed Mr. Bawer's advice and open their eyes.”

—Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, Anti-Defamation League; author, Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism

“Bawer paints an alarming picture of a continent in deep trouble and deeper denial—but now, perhaps, on the verge of waking up. Some books are merely important. This one is necessary.”

—Jonathan Rauch, senior writer and columnist for National Journal magazine in Washington and a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly

“Bruce Bawer has produced a book that is at once riveting, disturbing, fascinating, chilling, and shocking. It is required reading for anyone who wants to understand how militant Islam has insinuated itself into the heart of the West.”
—Steven Emerson, Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism and author of American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Amongst Us

“Bruce Bawer brings an American’s sensibilities and a writer’s insights to bear on the insistence by West Europeans that they really do not have a Muslim problem. Backed by deep research and wide personal experience, he argues that this blind denial is leading the continent to certain disaster. Bawer makes his case moderately but eloquently and powerfully. Will Europeans heed his warning?”

—Daniel Pipes, Director, Middle East Forum

“Bawer punctures the moral pretensions of our ‘betters’ in the Old World. Their supine acceptance of the Muslim oppression of women, their flatulent anti-Americanism, their renewed anti-Semitism—all are fully documented. There is something memorable on every page. Bawer writes with intelligence and passion. A fascinating analysis of Europe’s death spiral.”

—Mona Charen, syndicated columnist and author of Useful Idiots

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