The terrorist shootings in Toulouse, France are just a sneak peak of things to come in Europe. For Islamists, the quickly-growing, unassimilated Muslim population is fertile ground for indoctrination. As the Islamist numbers increase, so will the numbers of the minority that embrace violent jihad.
The U.S. is recognizing this reality and its Muslim population is, by some estimates, only one-third of that in the European Union. Obama Administration officials agree that homegrown terrorism is sharply increasing.
In Europe, the situation is much worse because a large number of Muslim immigrants do not embrace Western ideals and society upon their arrival and live amongst each other, creating parallel societies that act as an incubator for extremism. Former CIA case officer Marc Sageman studied the backgrounds of 400 terrorists, mostly members of Al-Qaeda, and found that “80 percent were, in some way, totally excluded from the society they lived in” and 70% “joined the jihad while they were living in another country from where they grew up.”
This finding is especially troubling for France, where there are 751 designated “Sensitive Urban Zones,” known for their hostility to outside authority, especially law enforcement, thus dubbed “No Go Zones” by Dr. Daniel Pipes. There are approximately 5 million people living in these low-income, largely-Muslim areas. In July 2010, there were riots in Grenoble for four days after a Muslim cleric incited a crowd at a funeral for a robber who was shot as he fled the police. This is part of a trend in France and elsewhere, especially Greece and Sweden. To make matters worse, Qatar, a key bankroller of Islamism, is giving $65 million in financial aid to these areas.
The United Kingdom has designated certain “ethnic minority areas” where soldiers are advised not to wear their uniforms. Posters were even set up in some Muslims areas by an extremist group declaring them to be Sharia zones. A similar campaign has started in Denmark. Sharia enclaves are being incrementally created in Europe and even in the U.S.
Multiple polls show how deeply-rooted the Islamist ideology is in Europe. One 2006 poll of British-Muslims found that although only 9% are “hardcore Islamists,” about 30% would rather live under Sharia law than British law. Nearly 20% would like to move to a Sharia-governed country. About 17% “strongly agree” that the U.K. should be governed by Sharia and 11% tend to agree. A poll of British-Muslim university students found that one-third support the establishment of a global Sharia state and 60% believe that killing in the name of Islam can be justified.
On the plus side, these two polls do show that these beliefs are only held by a minority and a very large portion of the Muslim community is hostile to the Islamist ideology. However, a big minority are still Islamists, a fraction of which will lash out violently.
The Islamist minority is very well-organized. It has powerful political and religious organizations. It influences schools where undercover investigations have uncovered indoctrination and physical abuse of children. Its proponents are even appointed to government positions. In a textbook case of stealth jihad, the Islamic Forum of Europe had one of its allies elected as the mayor of Tower Hamlets. One senior Labor Party official frankly admitted that it “really is Britain’s Islamic republic now.”
These problems are bound to get worse because of the high Muslim fertility rates and immigration levels. Alex Alexiev points out that some major cities in Europe are already 20% Muslim. According to the Brookings Institute, the Muslim birth rate in Europe is three times higher than for non-Muslims.
The Pew Institute projects that the Muslim population in Europe will grow from 6% now to 8% in 2030, which is about 58 million. About 9-10% of the populations of France, Sweden, Austria and Belgium will be Muslim, as will be 7-8% of the populations of Switzerland, Netherlands, Greece and Germany. This is a more conservative estimate. For example, historian Niall Ferguson says that if current trends persist, Muslims will be 15% of Britain’s population in 2030 and over 50% in 2050.
It should also be mentioned that if anti-Muslim sentiment increases, so will the Islamist ideology. Persecution of innocent Muslims will push the communities into further isolation and reinforce the Islamist narrative. As the aforementioned riots demonstrate, it doesn’t take much for a situation to escalate into violence under these conditions.
The European leadership now realizes that it must tackle the ideological root of Islamic terrorism. British Prime Minister David Cameron accurately says that terrorists are often first indoctrinated into non-violent extremism. He says, “under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream.” Last year, he announced a policy of “muscular liberalism” to counter the spread of the Islamist ideology.
French President Sarkozy says, “Our Muslim compatriots should be able to live and practice their religion like anyone else…but it can only be a French Islam and not just an Islam in France.” In other words, the Islamist preaching that is incompatible with Western secular democracy must be combated, while the practice of an Islam that is compatible must be allowed. France’s recent decision to ban several extremist clerics like Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi from the country is a step in the right direction.
Unfortunately, the math is on the side of the Islamists and terrorist groups who recruit from them. Their numbers will grow every day until the European leadership and anti-Islamist Muslims blunt and reverse the spread of Islamist preaching.