Page 1 of 2 Europe in the house of war
Violence is oozing through the cracks of European society like pus out of a
broken scab. Just when liberal opinion congratulated itself that Europe had
forsaken its violent past, the specter of civil violence has the continent
terrified. That is the source of the uproar over a February 7 speech by
Archbishop Rowan Williams, predicting the inevitable acceptance of Muslim
sharia law in Great Britain.
Not since World War II has British opinion been provoked to the present level
of outrage. Writing in the Times of London, the editor of the London Spectator,
Matthew d'Ancona, quoted former British
Conservative parliamentarian Enoch Powell's warning that concessions to alien
cultures would cause "rivers of blood" to flow in the streets of England. Times
columnist Minette Marin accuses the archbishop of treason.
Coercion in the Muslim communities of Europe is so commonplace that
duly-constituted governments there no longer wield a monopoly of violence.
Behind the law there stands the right of the state to inflict violence, and the
legitimacy of states rests on what German political economist and sociologist
Max Weber once called "the monopoly of violence". Once this right is conceded
to private groups, the legitimacy of government crumbles. No one appreciates
this more than the British, whose tradition of protecting individual rights
under law is the oldest and strongest in the West, excepting the United States,
which inherited English Common Law.
By proposing to concede a permanent role to extralegal violence in the
political life of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury pushed his phlegmatic
countrymen over the edge. No one is better than the British at pretending that
problems really aren't there, but once their spiritual leader admits to an
alien source of coercion and proposes to legitimize it, they understand that a
limit has been reached.
Williams' exercise in what might be termed the Higher Hypocrisy shows how
deeply Europe has descended into the Dar al-Harb, or the "House of War" in the
Muslim terms for all that lies outside the "house of submission", or Dar
al-Islam. Europe's governments refuse to rule, that is, refuse to enforce their
own laws because they fear violence on the part of Muslim immigrant communities
who refuse to accept these laws. "No-go" zones proliferate that non-Muslims
dare not enter. In the United Kingdom, according to evidence presented by
respected journalists and public-interest organizations, Muslim community
organizations, Muslim police officers and medical personnel collaborate to stop
women from escaping domestic violence.
The erring spiritual leader of the Church of England persuades me that Europe's
Man of Destiny is the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who for two years has
lived in hiding under constant police protection for the crime of criticizing
Islam. It is a measure of the degradation of Europe's body politic that is only
one means to expose the motives of Williams and his ilk, namely to draw fire
from Muslims who overtly threaten violence against any public figure who
questions the authority of Islam.
Contrary to his critics, Wilders is not provoking violence. The violence is
already there, a matter of workaday fact in Muslim enclaves throughout Europe.
In an act of great personal courage, Wilders is enticing violent elements out
of the tall grass in order to expose them to public opprobrium.
It is triply hypocritical when Williams, the spiritual leader of the Church of
England, speaks of sharia law as if it were a private matter of conscience
between consenting parties, rather like the use of rabbinical courts by
Orthodox Jews. First, he admits outright that Muslim communities combine to
coerce women but pretends that this is not relevant to sharia. Secondly, he
offers concessions to sharia in the first place to appease the threat of social
violence on the part of Muslims. As a final insult to conscience, he cites as
his authority on sharia Professor Tariq Ramadan, who notoriously refuses to
condemn the stoning of women for adultery, precisely because Muslim legal
rulings specifically endorse such violence.
There is overwhelming documentation that Muslim entities in Britain wield the
threat and fact of violence against dissenters, particularly the most
vulnerable, namely young women. The fact is so scandalous that in his February
7 address, Williams felt compelled to address it directly, in order to insist
that the subject fell entirely outside the issue of law - a conclusion he must
know to be false.
Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the bishop of Rochester, warned on January 7 of the
spread of "no-go" zones in England that non-Muslims dare not enter. As a
result, Nazir-Ali has received death threats against himself and his family and
The British authorities will take measures to protect bishops from the threat
of violence, but they leave to their own devices thousands of Muslim women.
According to a February 2008
report by the Center for Social Cohesion,
Islamist groups and individuals frequently link ideas of honor with the welfare
of the Muslim world. By using words such as Ird and Namus in a
political context, they imply that by protecting the chastity of Muslim women,
the security and collective honor of Islam and Muslim states and individuals
can also be defended. This politicization of women's bodies helps create an
environment where the abuse and control of women is tolerated.
Muslim communities, the report documents, terrorize women who refuse arranged
marriages or otherwise break with social norms:
Almost all refuges
dealing with Asian women report on the existence of informal networks which
exist to track down and punish - with death if necessary - women who are
perceived as bringing shame on their family and community. In many cases, women
fleeing domestic violence or forced marriages have been deliberately returned
to their homes or betrayed to their families by policemen, councilors and civil
servants of immigrant origin.
Muslim coercion against women
extends to psychiatric hospitals, the Times of London's religion correspondent
Ruth Gledhill reported on February 7 (cited in Rod Dreher's indispensable
Crunchy Con blog,
.) Glenhill quoted a women's rights advocate as follows:
The men get
tired of their wives. Or bored. Or maybe the wife objects to her daughter being
forced into a marriage she doesn't want. Or maybe she starts wearing Western
clothes. There can be many reasons. The women are sent for assessment to a
hospital. The GP [general practitioner] referring them is Muslim. The
psychiatrist assessing them is Muslim and male. I have sat in these assessments
where the psychiatrist will not look the woman patient in the eye because she
is a woman. Can you imagine! A psychiatrist refusing to look his patient in the
eye? The woman speaks little or no English. She is sectioned (committed to a
psychiatric ward). She is divorced. There are lots of these women in there,
locked up in these hospitals. Why don't you people write about this?
That brings us back to the archbishop of Canterbury, who acknowledged the fact
of coercion of women in his February 7 address, but insisted that because it
belonged to "custom" rather than "religious law", he preferred to change the
Recognition of "supplementary jurisdiction" in some areas,
especially family law, could have the effect of reinforcing in minority
communities some of the most repressive or retrograde elements in them, with
particularly serious consequences for the role and liberties of women. The
"forced marriage" question is the one most often referred to here, and it is at
the moment undoubtedly a very serious and scandalous one; but precisely because
it has to do with custom and culture rather than directly binding enactments by
religious authority, I shall refer to another issue.