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Belgium, Islam and the Boomerang of “Multiculturalism” By: Michael Radu
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, December 19, 2002

With some 20 million Moslems, Western Europe is increasingly having to face the issue of their unwillingness to play by the historic rules of immigration – assimilation and respect for national laws. Long avoided by the cultural and political elites, the issue is being brought to the fore by radical, vocal and media savvy, albeit often self appointed spokesmen of the Moslem populations , as well as by an electorate increasingly fed up with high immigrant numbers, criminality and refusal to adapt to local customs. Not surprisingly, the more "tolerant, progressive and open minded" a country, the more likely that such problems become critical. While few European countries are more "progressive and open minded" than little Belgium, its recent problems with the Moslems serve as a likely preview for the others.

Belgium was this author’s first country of contact with the West, after leaving Ceausescu’s Romania some decades ago; it was also the historic source of such artists like Rubens and Van Eyck, and the location of such European artistic jewels as Bruges and Gand - or Brugge and Gent, to be politically, and linguistically correct. Indeed, Belgium is not a country at all but an unstable arrangement between the majority Flemings and the French – speaking, and culturally dominant Waloons, barely kept together by a King and the money coming from Brussels being the "capital of Europe" – European Union’s center - and headquarters of NATO.

Since 1999 the Belgian government is an absurd coalition, "arc-en-ciel" (rainbow) government of Socialists, Liberals, Christian Democrats and Greens – of both the Flemish and Waloon (French speaking) versions. Imagine a US cabinet including Al Sharpton, Ralph Nader, Bush, Daschle, and Kennedy – and one that functions, after a fashion, since 1999, in its Spanish and English versions. But, to quote Mark Twain, I repeat myself…

The usual spokesman of this strange formation is Foreign Minister Jean Louis Michel, whose outspokenness is only matched by his country’s irrelevance in the eyes of both Europeans and the world. For instance, his government decided that it has jurisdiction over all "crimes against humanity", "genocide" and so on, wherever, whenever, by whomever.

At home, as one may expect, the Belgian government is very "tolerant" - so much so as to be a concrete example of what it means to be so open minded as to have your brains fell out – and is being awaken, rudely, by its own policies. And, recently, that "tolerance" turned out to be self – inflicted poison – as one may logically expect.

Consider the latest developments in Antwerp, the country’s second largest city, with a total population of over half a million, of which some 30,000 are immigrant Moslems (many illegal) and 20,000 Jews, who make one of the oldest ( some 400 years before the arrival of the Moslems), richest and largest Jewish communities in Western Europe.

In the last few months, under the pretext of the murder of an Arab by a deranged old Fleming, something called the European Arab League (LAE) started organizing "patrols" in the city, to "watch" over the so- called "racist" police – echoes Al Sharpton’s anti – police militancy in the Big Apple.

The LAE founder, Abu Jahjah, is the poster boy of everything that is wrong and dangerous in Western European Moslem communities – and with European legal, political and cultural inadequacies to answering that danger.

Born in Lebanon, 31 of age, Abu Jahjah arrived in Belgium at beginning of the 1990s, claiming political asylum, due to alleged problems with the southern Lebanon’s dominant terrorist group, Hizbollah. His application rejected, he took a simpler way to stay -married a Flemish woman, got his Belgian citizenship and, promptly, divorced.

Then, at taxpayers’ expense, he studied political science at the (formerly prestigious) Catholic (!?) University of Louvain, where he became a Socialist Party activist and union militant.

From that fashionable political base, he founded , first, a pro – Arab group, El Rabita, later transformed into the LAE. Asked why he choose Antwerp for his activities, his answer was that he was seeking "new cultures"…But, according to the French newspaper Liberation, he sees the city as a "bastion of European Zionism" whom he seeks to transform into a "Mecca of pro-Palestinian action." And, not surprisingly, LAE’s finances remain a "mystery."

Abu Jahjah’s immediate goal, in addition to preventing the local police from dealing with the enormous criminality among immigrant Moslems, is to "simply demand our rights to housing, employment…while preserving our Arab – Moslem identity. " All that because, as quoted in Liberation, December 16, 2002, the State "must accept the reality of multiculturalism." That, presumably, means veils for girls, rejection of "pagan" science studies, taxpayer – paid special meals and vacations for Ramadan, lectures in the Quran, and, specifically, making Arabic an official language , in addition to Dutch, French and German. All these are the logical conclusion of "tolerance", "multiculturalism" and cultural suicide policies of the Brussels government.

Not surprisingly, the people of Antwerp, including, increasingly, its Jews, find the anti – Moslem, anti – immigration (same thing in that context) Flemish nationalists of the Vlaams Blok – some 30% of local votes the last elections, and growing – more and more attractive - at least in the opinion of Nathan Ramet, leader of the local Jewish community.

And what of the "moderate" Moslems? Noureddin Maloujmaoun, leader of the Executive of Belgium’s Moslems pretends that he criticizes Jahjah’s methods, but, as usual there is always a but, shares his demands.

The situation in Belgium, and specifically in Antwerp, is a case study of what Western Europe is confronted with, and refuses to face, because of its own , self – inflicted, cultural and political problems. Used for decades to instantly, indeed in a Pavlovian manner, accuse any anti – mass immigration, assimilationist or national identity – based group, party or politician of "racism" , the European elites are now faced with a popular reaction which, instead of being handled politically and rationally, is channeled by extremists - hence Vlaams Blok, Le Pen in France, etc.

The obvious principles, having to do with common sense and basic legal principles, to be applied to the uncontrollable mass of Moslem immigration from North and Sub Saharan Africa – overwhelmingly Moslem – are consistently avoided in the name of political correctness. Thus the question of immigrants’ obligations – starting with respect for national laws, which make illegal entry a crime – are never examined – just their real or, more often than not, imaginary "rights."

Is polygamy acceptable? The French legal instances prefer to avoid the issue; same with the veil, and that in a country where "laicité" is supposed to be an iron principle – particularly on the Left. Same with arranged marriages, sexual mutilation of girls, etc. – all implicitly, if not formally tolerated in the name of "tolerance" – open mindedness to the extreme…

Is this coming soon to an American community near you? You bet – already American Moslems’ self appointed leaders are clamoring for treatment similar to that of Blacks and Hispanics – never mind that they are richer than the "oppressor" white group, and nothing good to expect.

Michael Radu is Senior Fellow and Co - Chair, Center on Terrorism and Counterterrorism, at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.

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