Five years ago no one thought it could happen. But today the traditional Islamic dress for women – a burqa or veil that covers the entirety of a woman’s body save for a narrow opening for the eyes – is under assault throughout Europe.
France has been debating legislation for nearly two years to ban the burqa and recent polls indicate that nearly 70% of respondents favor the ban. As the Financial Times revealed in a report on March 2, in Spain 63% favor the ban while in Italy the number is 65%. In Germany the number is slightly less at 52%, but nevertheless shows a majority in favor.
Across Europe, there is a deep sense that change is in the air. Switzerland voted in January to ban the further construction of minarets in Swiss towns and polls at the time revealed continent wide support for the measure. In Denmark, Kurt Westegaard, the cartoonist who penned the now famous ‘Mohammed with a bomb in his turban’ cartoon and which is said to have sparked Muslim riots around the world, is being treated as a local hero and the trial of Geert Wilders,whose film Fitna ( a 14 minute collection of film clips without narration depicting the development of Islam in modern times) is fast transforming him into one of the most popular politicians in Europe.
The burqa, for many Europeans, has become a symbol of clerical oppression and female subjugation and a portent of what awaits them if current trends continue. Religious liberty, one of the great accomplishments of the French Enlightenment and a hallmark of liberal democracy, is now slowly giving way to a sense that tolerating the intolerant is not resulting in the expected assimilation of restive minorities, but with an anti-democratic cancer metastisizing in the very heart of their continental enterprise.
Why is this happening now? Simply this: Continental Europeans are beginning to awaken from their long multicultural slumber. Quite aware that loose immigration policies, extensive welfare benefits and collapsed social programs have failed to absorb Muslim minorities, Europeans are demanding that brakes be placed on multicultural policies that have only served to erode national identity and create virtual autonomous zones within certain European countries where police fear to tread.
That is all true enough for the continent. But in the U.K. things are decidedly different. As I have written repeatedly over the past few years, ( see England’s Muliticultural Revolution and Combating Terrorism for example) and have debated at our international conference The Collapse of Europe? , the United Kingdom is on a fast track to civilizational collapse with very few politicians, academics or social leaders displaying enough courage to challenge the country’s most important institutions in the apparent accommodation of a Muslim ascendancy.
Why, we might ask, has England – the lone holdout against Nazism in the early 1940s and a country renowned for pride in its traditions, allowed itself to be so weakened by multicultural pieties and appeasing attitudes? The answer is that leftist politcians, from the former mayor of London Ken Livingstone and parliamentarian, George Galloway to former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, have cravenly bought into the notion that England’s future is dependent on respecting foreign cultures, even when those which express no respect for England’s heritage, system of government or democratic values. This attitude, cultivated at British universities by leftist ideologues and imbued in schoolchildren from an early age, has resulted in a society fatally unsure of itself and insecure about its place in the world. It is a country given over to a panic that the rise of militant Islam within its midst has been, against all better judgment, the result of its own racist policies and the denial to Muslims of the proper expression of their identity. The result is more accommodation, not less – and the staggering growth in Muslim power.
These elites, of course, bear deep guilt. They are embarrassed that the British Empire might have once been so indulgent as to have sought to expand its territories; they are ashamed by the rapacity of its colonial ambitions; they feel humiliated that British mercantile trade might have grown fat on the backs of native labor. The sins of the fathers, so the current thinking goes, can only be salved through a national campaign of repentance.
Therefore, while Continental Europe begins to pull out of its tailspin, the United Kingdom, with Scotland and Wales perhaps peeling off at some point in the future and the former Commonwealth countries turning their backs, may be in for a civil strife that it could never have been anticipated when it first opened its doors to Muslim immigrants in the mid-1960s.
Suffice to say, English legislation to ban the burqa on the lines of the French, will almost certainly never be proposed. But the absence of such legislation, while the rest of Europe begins its slow awakening, is a bitter commentary on the future of a once proud nation.