The Independent is a British newspaper that is left of center on the political spectrum. But it has some very good, perceptive writing on international developments.
Today’s paper includes an article from Germany that carries the following two headlines:
“Germany’s far-right on the march: Anti-Islamic movement attracts thousands as violence and xenophobia increase in wake of Paris attacks.”
A second headline reads: “Pegida movement’s marches attract thousands as hatred of Islam and immigrants sweeps across Germany in the wake of Paris attacks.”
The Paris terror attacks could turn out to be a significant moment in history. It’s given re-birth to European nationalism in both France and Germany. Yesterday showed clearly that French citizens are determined to preserve their freedom of speech, even if this upsets the five million Muslims in their midst. Charlie Hebdo has already sold five million copies with its cartoon of Mohammed on the cover. The normal weekly sale is 60,000. More copies are being printed. People were selling this week’s issue for as much as $760 on E-bay. One seller is asking for $7,500.
It’s also clear that leaders are out of touch with their people. The French president and the German and British prime ministers are still defending the illusions of multiculturalism and assimilation.
France’s President Hollande said today that France “will protect all religions“ adding that “Islam is compatible with democracy,” yet all the evidence supports the opposite conclusion. How can Islam be compatible with democracy when it kills people for drawing cartoons? How can assimilation work when immigrants from North Africa want to impose their own culture on the French rather than taking on the culture of their new country?
A major rethink is needed. The policies of the last few decades are clearly not working in Western countries. No country can be complacent here – the whole western world is vulnerable.
Democracy is clearly not compatible with Islam. The first is based on individualism, the latter on submission. The aftermath of the Arab Spring underscored the total incompatibility of Islam and democracy.
Democracy may also have a problem coping with the new far-right groups that have gained considerable support following the terror attacks in Paris. Pegida’s anti-Islam marches have brought back disturbing images of the 1930’s.
Even in England, where democracy survived through World War II, British Prime Minister David Cameron has bowed out of a televised electoral debate with other party leaders. His list of the six greatest challenges facing Britain at this time does not include immigration. He simply does not want to discuss it, particularly with UKIP’s Nigel Farage who will be participating in the debate.
If democratic governments do not address the very real fears of their electorates, democracy itself will be at stake.