Politics & Policy

European Dishonor

Sharia on the Old Continent.

Young women killed for dating. Limbs amputated for petty theft. Makeshift courts deciding the fates of members of local Muslim communities. The Western world has grown accustomed to hearing about the brutalities of Islamic law. However, these primitive practices are no longer limited to the remote tribal areas of Pakistan, the backward kingdom of Saudi Arabia, or oppressive, mullah-dominated Iran. Today, thanks in large part to a massive flow of immigration from Muslim countries, sharia law and medieval customs are becoming increasingly common in the heart of Christian Europe.

One of the most shocking examples of this new reality occurred in Sweden last year, when a Kurdish woman was killed by her father for having a romantic relationship with a Swedish man. Fadime Sahindal, 26, had taken her father and brother to sharia court in 1998, alleging that they had threatened to kill her for refusing to marry a Kurdish man the family had chosen for her. The two received only light sentences, however, and continued to abuse Fadime until, in 2002, her father shot and killed her. Disturbingly, the young woman was well aware of the fate that awaited her, as she said during the 1998 trial: “The only way for the family to regain its honor now that I have spread dishonor over it is to kill me.”

Cases similar to Fadime’s have been reported in France and Denmark. In England last September, a Kurdish father slit his daughter’s throat because he disapproved of her Christian boyfriend and Westernized way of life. And, recently, in the port town of Taranto in southern Italy, a Muslim man who suspected that his wife had committed adultery decided–after consulting with members of his local Muslim community–that she should be stoned to death. The tragedy was only averted thanks to the intervention of local police.

Honor killings are not limited to Muslim countries and are, in fact, a common practice in several third-world cultures. Not all Muslims approve of them, and, according to some Muslim scholars, they do not reflect “real Islam.” Nevertheless, the Koran itself permits men to beat their wives (Chapter 4, Verse 34), and the sharia-inspired penal codes of most Muslim countries give the benefit of the doubt to a man who kills his wife, daughter, or sister for engaging in adulterous or immoral behavior. This barbaric practice, which has not been seen in European countries in well over a century, is making an unsavory return within the Old Continent’s Muslim communities.

The effects of the application of sharia in Europe are not limited to Muslim women. Last year, in the small Italian town of Eboli, hospital workers treated a young Algerian man whose fingers on his right hand had been chopped off. Under questioning, the man refused to reveal how he had sustained his injuries, but investigators have no doubt that he was the victim of punishment carried out according to Islamic law. Authorities in southern Italy, where many migrants from North Africa flock to work in agriculture, are becoming accustomed to such incidents. A Sicilian doctor revealed to the Italian magazine Panorama that victims of violent sharia justice go to the hospital only as a last resort, “when the bleeding is serious.” He added that he had become knowledgeable about how amputations must be made according to Islamic tradition (the hand has to be chopped off piece by piece, without breaking any bones).

While these incidents may seem isolated, in actuality, several Muslim groups in Europe openly advocate the introduction of sharia in the West. Uneducated immigrants might use sharia simply because it is a system they are more familiar with, but militant Islamic organizations push for the introduction of Islamic law because they believe it is a superior system, the law revealed by God, and therefore the only acceptable law.

In Germany, Milli Gorus, a militant Turkish Islamic organization with more than 200,000 members, is accused by German intelligence of promoting Islamic law among Turkish immigrants in Europe. The August 2001 issue of Milli Gorus’s official publication, Milli Gazete, featured an article stating that “A religious Muslim is also at the same time an advocate for sharia. The state, the media, and the courts have no rights to interfere. The allegiance of a Muslim to sharia cannot be condemned or questioned.”

In Britain, the rapid spread of radical Islam in urban areas has led to major social exclusion and the development of sharia among England’s Muslims. Al-Muhajiroun, a London-based fundamentalist group with sympathizers throughout Britain’s burgeoning Muslim communities, has made the struggle against “man-made law” one of the key points of its agenda, declaring that its members do not recognize English law, but only Islamic law. (Nevertheless, al-Muhajiroun’s leaders do not disdain collecting unemployment benefits generously granted by English “man-made law.”)

In Italy, mainstream Muslim groups have asked for the introduction of Islamic marriages with no legal effects under Italian law, a de facto subtraction of the wedlock from the control of authorities. This request is aimed at creating a situation where two different legal systems regulate the lives of two different groups of citizens within the same state. In European legal history, it would represent a jump back to the Middle Ages, when different laws applied to different ethnicities. In practical terms, it would mean that Italian citizens of Muslim faith would be subtracted from the guarantees that the Italian legal system provides to its citizens. Therefore, while Christian Italian women would have the same rights as Italian men, Muslim Italian women would have very few rights. While a Christian woman would have the right to obtain a divorce simply by filing papers, a Muslim woman would have to go to great lengths to prove ill treatment at the hands of her husband.

Multiculturalists and leftist defenders of uncontrolled immigration, uneasy when confronted with episodes of the brutal application of sharia in Europe’s Muslim ghettoes, are quick to predict that these incidents will disappear once Muslims are wealthier and better integrated into Western society through marriage to native Europeans. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that these predictions will come true in the foreseeable future. Muslims in Europe account for the vast majority of those living under the poverty line, and Muslim neighborhoods are the poorest areas in nearly every European city. Furthermore, statistics show that the majority of European Muslims are not marrying indigenous Europeans but other Muslims, either from their country of origin or from within local Muslim communities.

Politically correct European politicians, ever mindful not to offend their newly arrived Muslim brethren, have done little to aid in the assimilation process. As a result, immigrants who settle in Europe’s Muslim communities are often greeted with the same sharia-inspired mayhem that they left behind in their countries of origin. From England to Holland to Greece, many European Muslims have managed to segregate themselves from society at large and maintain harsh traditions ill-suited to the West. As the number of unassimilated Muslims grows and Europe’s elites continue to remain silent, the ultimate victim may turn out to be Western civilization itself.

Erick Stakelbeck is head writer and Lorenzo Vidino is an attorney and terrorism analyst at the Investigative Project, a Washington, D.C.-based counterterrorism think tank.

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