Shying away from hypocrisy, Europe should favour an integrated Islam, oppose a terrorist Islam
by Samir Khalil Samir

The Islamist, Salafi-tinged fever is spreading everywhere. Any fight against terrorism smacks of hypocrisy if the countries that support and finance Wahhabism, namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, are not criticised. Integration requires strict rules, as in Austria and Sweden. Local mosques cannot get foreign funding, sermons must be in the local language, and imams must be trained locally. France and Belgium, secular states, penalise Catholics and favour Muslims for votes and contracts.

Rome (AsiaNews) – The tragic attacks in Brussels have generated two attitudes in Europe, one that is bellicose, and one that is sentimental.

The terrorists who carried out the attacks were well known to the police, and the intelligence services, and yet they did what they did. Our people then turned “bellicose,” demanding greater security, border controls, no migrants, cursing all integration proposals. Ordinary people, some young people, want peace and quiet, and are willing to let a fragile state defend them, but do not feel any responsibility in the matter.

There is widespread fear that terrorism will rob us of our untroubled and “free” way of life. Many papers have stressed Europe’s "war," but Europe has been at war against jihadism for a long time.

An escalation is certainly underway. The Islamist fever is now everywhere. It no longer affects just one area or a specific country. Jihadis are everywhere: on the streets, in restaurants, airport, and subways. There seems to be no escape.

Terrorists take advantage of every situation to blow everything up: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Kenya, Libya, etc. They might not be the same people or the same group, but all this violence has the same root, Salafism, a branch of Islamic thought that seeks to globalise terror.

Prof Pierre Vermeren in Le Monde yesterday relates the story of Moroccan groups, to which the Paris and Brussels terrorists belong. They or their parents arrived in Europe with the boom in the mining and steel sectors. When crisis hit, they became unemployed. With unemployment, they became petty criminals (selling hashish). At this point, also as a result of an odd economic deal with the Saudis, scores of Wahhabi preachers arrived, building one mosque after the other. Their fundamentalism took them and turned them into terrorists.

A similar thing happened in France as well. Yet, Belgium and France, with secular governments, uninterested in religion, did not take care of this problem; instead, they let it grow until now. States thought they could politically and sociologically control the situation. But it blew up in their face.

In Belgium, police have stopped going into certain boroughs, in Molenbeek* for example. Even when the police do come, bearded men block them saying that this is "their home" and law enforcement cannot come in. Such areas have become no-go zones.

In France, the same thing is going on. In some neighbourhoods, youth crime is rampant. Although their parents, who are older, do not agree with them, young people behave as masters and a law onto themselves.

Compounding the situation, housing costs and rents in central boroughs are very high, forcing people to live in the outer ring of cities, which have become cities in their own right.

Wahhabism is spreading everywhere with money, mosques, and imams paid from abroad. The result is there for everyone to see.

Islamic disease

European states now make proclamations about greater security, cooperation, but they do own up to their superficial treatment of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other countries that finance preachers, imams, and mosques. They allow sermons in Arabic, and do nothing against the spreading jihadi ideology.

A few countries, like Austria and Sweden, have set precise rules. They do not accept foreign-funded mosque projects; sermons in mosques must be in the host country’s language; imams must be trained in the country. In Austria for example, a school of Islamic theology has been set up in a local university. Anyone who wants to be recognised as an imam has to follow its programme.

Some basic rules are needed. Case in point: prayers should not block streets. This, which is a kind of blackmail, has become widespread. This used to happen in Milan. It still happens in Paris now; in Marseille, entire neighbourhoods are locked down for prayers.

States do not understand religion and even less Islam and let things happen. They might impose bans on Catholics, but appease Muslims.

France’s government, for example, is often anti-Catholic and does everything possible to curb Catholics, but it helps Muslims in order to get votes from them. Perhaps the same is true in Italy.

In France, former President Sarkozy implemented a 19th century law, whereby land can be rented for "cultural reasons" for a period of 99 years. He encouraged mayors to lease land to Muslims, but not to Christians. And this only for political and economic reasons, to get votes and investments from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the Emirates.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia are officially Wahhabi. In Europe, no one accuses them of terrorism, but in the Arab press, everybody says so, because it is they who help the Jihadis. It is they who finance the Islamic State group; the weapons they bought pass through Turkey and end up right in the hands of the Jihadis who then go to Europe.

Turkey is two-faced: showing its "European" face to some whilst letting foreign fighters into Syria.

Yet no one is criticising these countries. Riyadh has been bombing Yemen’s Shia areas for almost a year, hitting hospitals and markets with civilians, and no one complains.

It is obvious to think that high-level business deals are involved. Last year, France sold 24 Rafale warplanes for US$ 3.5 billion to Qatar. Hence, no one talks about human rights violations. Riyadh helps Egypt and in return, our country must leave some room for the Muslim Brotherhood.

In short, there is a lot of hypocrisy in the West’s complaints and its fight against terrorism.

Even the agreement between the EU with Turkey for the return of refugees is very ambiguous. It seems hurried and superficial. How can anyone think about turning back a refugee who paid 5,000 euros to get on a dingy and risk his life to reach Europe, and then send him back to Turkey, which is not exactly a beacon of human rights, but a haven for smugglers.

Inside Islam, disease is spreading. There is an ongoing struggle to define what the true religion is. One side in this struggle is being funded by those who want to see the victory of Wahhabi Islam.

Al-Azhar University, the most respected Sunni university, is not Wahhabi, but since Saudi Arabia is one of its financial backers, its fundamentalism Islam is part of the curriculum. They say that they are changing, but is not true. The books are still the same, showing scorn for other religions, for the kuffār (pagans), etc. A month ago, some great Egyptian thinkers slammed al-Azhar on television. "We cannot do anything,” they said, “until this university changes its teaching programmes."

Integration with rules

To change the situation we have a few tools at our disposal. The only way out is for Europe to be rigorous in its rules, teaching immigrants, even Muslims, about local laws and cultural traditions that must be respected. It is not permissible to give in and allow prayers in the streets that block traffic. It is not acceptable for parents to refuse to send their children to school and then expect unemployment insurance.

Some time ago, I monitored some Muslim refugees in the outskirts of Paris. I noted that the young women studied a lot, including in the evening. Young men instead went out in the evening to have fun, in bars until midnight, and so they did poorly in school. They ended up getting only part-time jobs, or went to the mosque for some help. Families cannot handle these young men.

Rules about living together must be taught. In Germany, for example, in the city where I spend a few months each year, noise after 10 pm is banned. Party or no party, one cannot make noise. If it does happen, one can expect the police to arrive to warn the culprits. Repeat offenders will be taken to jail for a few days.

Integration also means that before giving all these refugees a residence permit, a trial period is needed to see if they are able to integrate.

In Germany, 200 metres from the parish where I go, there is a refugee camp where most people are Muslim. They come from Syria, Lebanon, Middle East, Africa . . . and they are very happy. I talk to them in Arabic, or French with the Africans. All of them say the same thing: God bless Germany!

What are the Germans doing? They are hosting the refugees in an abandoned school where every family has a room. It is Spartan. Refugees do not get money; they get coupons to buy the necessary things (food, clothing, etc., no tobacco or alcohol). The children are in school to learn the language. For the parents, there is a school for adults, run by volunteers. Within these strict rules, they are grateful to the German Government.

This is the way that Europe can show its own caring humanism. A Lebanese family in the aforementioned refugee camp, for example, was impressed that the father underwent a tricky heart operation, followed by rehabilitation. They said that in “our country no one would have helped him”.

Integration also means jobs. Training can take up to two years, followed by a trial period. If they demonstrate an ability to integrate, they get a residence permit. Later, some of them can also apply for citizenship. In Germany, this method has led to fewer problems, even though there are millions of refugees.

Our politicians, together with Muslims who understand the problems of the West, must find a way to prepare people to integrate. In Italy, however, I see problems. For example, I met two Egyptians who refused to work, refused to integrate, and lived day by day. The only thing they wanted was to find an Italian woman to marry and settle down and get a visa to stay in Italy.

Unfortunately, some women fell for it. Now the latter complain that following the period of courtship when the men were kind, straightforward, and helpful, they got married only to find out that the latter are domineering, as if they were in the Middle East, telling them where not to go, to stay clear of places where there are too many men, to walk behind their man, not next to him, etc.

Integration means understanding that here in Italy men and women have the same rights and duties, that they are perfectly equal. In fact, if anyone is favoured, it is women. Which is the opposite in Middle Eastern culture.

* Molenbeek is the Brussels borough where Salah Abdeslam, the terrorist arrested in Belgium for his involvement in the Paris bombings, grew up.