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Islam, the Marxism of Our Time By: Theodore Dalrymple
City Journal | Friday, September 21, 2007


From an Islamist point of view, the news from Europe looks good. The Times of London, relying on a police report, recently observed that the Deobandis, a fundamentalist sect, now run nearly half of the 1,350 mosques in Britain and train the vast majority of the Muslim clerics who get their training in the country. The man who might become the sect’s spiritual leader in Britain, Riyadh ul Haq, believes that friendship with a Christian or a Jew makes “a mockery of Allah’s religion.” At least no one could accuse him of a shallow multiculturalism.

According to Le Figaro, 70 percent of Muslims in France intend to keep the fast during Ramadan, up from 60 percent in 1989. Better still, from the Islamist point of view, non-practicing Muslims feel increasing social pressure to comply with the fast, whether they want to or not. The tide is thus running in the Islamists’ favor.

Best news of all for the Islamists, however, comes from Germany. Two of the men that the German police arrested in early September for plotting a series of huge explosions in the country were young German converts to Islam. It is impossible to know how many such German converts there are, but it is thought to run into tens of thousands, principally men; in the nature of things, it is also uncertain how many of them are attracted to extremism, but few people are so attracted by moderation that they are converted by it.

The man believed to be the leader of the little group, Fritz G., the son of a doctor and an engineer, was himself a student of engineering, of mediocre attainment. He grew up in Ulm, where a quarter of the population is now Muslim, and at the time of his parents’ divorce, when he was 15, he began to frequent the Islamic Information Center of Ulm, and also the comically named Multikultihaus in the neighboring town of Neu-Ulm, where young men of jihadist views, including Mohammed Atta, had long congregated. In 2004, he was spotted at the Ulm Islamic center, selling a journal called Think in the Islamic Way. In December of that year, the police found propaganda in favor of Osama bin Laden in his car. In 2006, he went to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.

His fellow conspirator, Daniel S., came from a well-off family and converted early in life to radical Islam. He traveled to Egypt to learn Arabic, and then returned to Germany, where he sometimes irritated his neighbors by praying loudly in Arabic three times a day.

All this suggests that Islam is fast becoming the Marxism of our times. Had Fritz G. and Daniel S. grown up a generation earlier, they would have become members of the Baader-Meinhof Gang rather than Islamic extremists. The dictatorship of the proletariat, it seems, has given way before the establishment of the Caliphate as the transcendent answer to some German youths’ personal angst.

This is good news indeed for Islamists, but not so good for the rest of us.


Theodore Dalrymple, a physician, is a contributing editor of City Journal and the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.


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