Friday, January 7, 2011

Muslim Christmas in Europe

by Soeren Kern

Europe's Christmas and New Year holidays this year were overshadowed by widespread Islam-related controversies in nearly every European country -- conflicts that reflected the growing influence of Islam thanks to mass immigration from Muslim countries, and an ominous sign of things to come, considering that Europe's Muslim population is expected to double by the end of the decade that began this week.

Some of the most heated multicultural dust-ups during the December 2010 holidays took place in Britain, where a Muslim group launched a nationwide poster campaign denouncing Christmas as evil. Organizers posted across Britain thousands of placards claiming the season of goodwill is responsible for rape, teenage pregnancies, abortion, promiscuity, crime and paedophilia. They said they hoped that the campaign would help to "destroy Christmas" in Britain, and instead lead to Britons converting to Islam.

The placards featured a festive scene with an image of the Star of Bethlehem over a Christmas tree. But under a banner announcing "the evils of Christmas," the posters mocked the traditional English Christmas carol, The 12 Days of Christmas. The posters read: "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me an STD [sexually transmitted disease]. On the second day, debt; on the third, rape; the fourth, teenage pregnancies, and then there was abortion." According to the posters, Christmas is also responsible for paganism, domestic violence, homelessness, vandalism, alcohol and drugs. Another offense of Christmas is "claiming God has a son."

The bottom of the poster declares: "In Islam we are protected from all of these evils. We have marriage, family, honour, dignity, security, rights for man, woman and child." The campaign's organizer, 27-year-old Abu Rumaysah, wants Islamic Sharia Law imposed in Britain and says he is not concerned about offending Christians. He says "Christmas is a lie, and as Muslims it is our duty to attack it."

The British Red Cross seems to agree. For nearly a decade, it has banned Christmas from its more than 400 fund-raising shops; British newspapers reported that workers were ordered to take down Christmas trees and nativity scenes and to remove any other signs of the Christian festival because they could offend Muslims.

The Red Cross dismissed the accusations as old news, but in an official statement essentially confirmed its veracity. "It's true that you won't find explicitly religious items or displays, relating to any faith, in any of our shops, at Christmas or any other time. … The point is that the Red Cross is not a political or religious organisation. … We can't let people in need down by compromising our neutrality. … A nativity scene in a shop in Kent might seem like it has nothing to do with our sensitive, precarious work in a war zone in Africa or the Middle East. But in a world where information travels quickly and pervasively … we have to make sure we act consistently across the board with regard to our neutrality."

Also in Britain, anti-terror police on December 20 arrested nine Islamists, aged between 19 and 28, during a series of dawn raids in London, Cardiff and Stoke-on-Trent. The suspects are accused of planning a Christmas terror blitz on London's busiest landmarks, including the mayor's office and the American embassy.

Elsewhere in Britain, a Roman Catholic grade school faces being taken over by a mosque after it was revealed, on December 28, that 95% of its pupils are Muslim. Church leaders say it is no longer "appropriate" for them to run Sacred Heart Primary School, which has only six Christian pupils. Just 10 years ago more than 90% of their pupils were Roman Catholic, but now most are of Asian origin, do not speak English as their first language, and follow Islam.

The school in Blackburn, Lancashire, could be handed to the nearby Masjid-e-Tauheedul mosque, inaugurated in July 2010 by Sheik Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, an imam employed by the Saudi government and head cleric of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Sheik Al-Sudais has been banned from entering the United States. In a 2002 sermon he called Jews "the scum of humanity, the rats of the world, the killers of prophets and the grandsons of monkeys and pigs." He has also called on Muslims to "kill Jews and American worshippers of the cross."

In Cyprus, meanwhile, the interior ministry began issuing new biometric passports that contain a watermark sketch of a naked Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of Love. The image is modelled on a famous statue in the Cyprus Museum in the capital, Nicosia. The ancient goddess is widely accepted as the symbol of the eastern Mediterranean holiday island, and is used by its tourism organization on its "Love Cyprus" advertising campaign abroad. Local legend says that Aphrodite (also known as Venus to the ancient Romans) emerged from the sea on a crest of foam just off the coast of Cyprus.

But some politically correct Cypriot diplomats say the depiction of a nude Aphrodite might offend Muslims. "They are worried that civilians and diplomats could get into trouble, especially when travelling to very conservative Islamic countries," according to local newspapers (here in English), where the issue was a major topic of discussion over the Christmas holidays. So far, Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis has stood firm, saying he has no plans to cover Aphrodite with an Islamic-style burqa.

In Denmark, police thwarted an Islamist terrorist attack in Copenhagen just hours before it was to take place on December 29. Authorities arrested five Muslims who were planning to shoot as many people as possible in a Copenhagen office building that houses the newsroom of Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that published controversial cartoons of Mohammed in 2005.

Four suspects were arrested in the suburbs of Copenhagen, including a 44-year-old Tunisian, a 29-year-old man from Lebanon and a 26-year-old Iraqi asylum-seeker. A fifth suspect, a 37-year-old Swedish citizen of Tunisian origin, was arrested in Sweden. The Danish Security and Intelligence Service said it seized a submachine gun, a silencer and ammunition.

In Finland, the 60,000-strong Muslim community chose the Christmas holidays to complain that there are not enough mosques in the country. Muslim activists say the existing premises of the Islamic Society of Finland in downtown Helsinki are too small for the country's rapidly expanding Muslim population.

In France, police announced an innovative new approach to dealing with the annual ritual of car torchings by Muslim youths on New Year's Eve. Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said that this year his agency would not immediately publish the number of cars torched overnight, but rather will release the data "later in the month" in a bid to stop the "unhealthy competition" that encourages Muslim youths to raise the number of torchings year after year.

Car torchings have become somewhat of a tradition in multicultural France. Every New Year's Eve, hundreds of cars are set alight by Muslim revellers, and the announcement of the tally of destruction has become a media obsession.

Also in France, in the Paris suburb of Grigny, Christian Le Bras, a municipal councillor with the Green Party, caused a stir after posting posters wishing a Happy New Year to the residents on behalf of his party: "Europe Ecologie Grigny's best wishes for this new year 1432-2011." The Muslim Year 1432 began on December 6. According to local media reports, some members of the party want to sue Le Bras for fraudulent use of the party name. The posters have since been removed.

Elsewhere in France, Jean-Pierre Cattenoz, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Avignon, said in an interview with Famille Chrétienne, a Christian magazine: "We are at a turning point in the religious history of our country. Gallic families, traditionally Christian, have on average two children. Muslims families living in France, have most often four, five six children. From this we can see that France will have a Muslim majority in twenty, thirty years."

In Germany, the incoming head of the main airport lobby group, ADV, caused a stir on December 27 by demanding that the country's transit authorities use racial profiling to weed out terrorists at security checks. Christophe Blume, currently the head of Düsseldorf Airport, told the daily newspaper Rheinische Post that passengers should be divided into different risk categories, meaning subject to varying degrees of scrutiny by airport security.

"That way, the security system could become more effective to everyone's benefit," said Blume, who will take the helm of ADV later this month. He said that profiling passengers according to characteristics such as race, religion and country of origin would allow German airports to avert a further tightening of security. Not surprisingly, the leftwing guardians of German political correctness are fuming.

Over at the European Commission in Brussels, unelected bureaucrats have decided to abolish Christmas altogether. The European Commission, which is the executive body of the 27-member state European Union, produced more than three million copies of a 2011 daily planner for secondary schools that contains no reference to Christmas, but does mention Hindu, Sikh and Muslim holidays. The calendar also notes "Europe Day" and other key dates of the European Union.

The calendar page for December 25 is empty and at the bottom is the following message: "A true friend is someone who shares your worries and your joy." A spokesperson for the European Commission said the omission of Christmas was a "blunder," but then went on to confirm that it really was not one when he said and that Christmas would not appear in future editions of this planner, either, "to avoid any controversy."

In Holland, police on December 24 arrested 12 Somalis in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam on suspicion of preparing a terrorist attack during Christmas.

Also in Holland, Radio Netherlands reported on December 22 that a Muslim fundamentalist group calling itself Sharia4Holland (not to be confused with Sharia4Belgium) has started operating openly in the country. The group wants Muslims to fight for the establishment of a Dutch Islamic state, so that the "flag of Sharia will blow over the Dutch Royal Palace in The Hague."

In Spain, the city of Barcelona decided that Christmas would be a good time to announce the construction of an official mega-mosque with a capacity for thousands of Muslim worshipers. The new structure would rival the massive Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid, one of the biggest mosques in Europe. An official in the office of the Mayor of Barcelona said the objective is to "increase the visibility of Muslims in Spain," as well as to promote the "common values between Islam and Europe."

In Sweden, a botched terrorist attack in central Stockholm on December 11 highlighted signs of growing Islamic extremism across Scandinavia. In the first-ever suicide bombing in Sweden, a 29-year-old Iraqi-born sports therapist named Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, intent on mass murder just before Christmas, blew up both his car and himself on a busy shopping street.. Abdulwahab's widow said her husband appeared to be a "normal Muslim."

Also in Sweden, a Coptic Christian church in the town of Agnesberg near Gothenburg was forced to close down on December 24 after receiving threats from Islamic extremists. The church will remain closed for up to two weeks; it remains unclear whether worshipers will be able to use the building on January 6, the day Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas. (Coptic Christians in Germany have also received threats of attack by radical Muslims and have asked for police protection, according to the German tabloid Bild.)

Back in Spain, Noureddine Ziani, a Barcelona-based Moroccan imam, who recently organized a week-long conference titled "Muslims and European Values," said it is absolutely necessary to accept Islamic values as European values. He also said that from now on, Europeans should replace the term "Judeo-Christian" with term "Islamo-Christian" when describing Western Civilization. If Christmas in 2010 is any guide, Europe is already far along the path in that direction.

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Soeren Kern

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