European governments have become practiced at pretending that their country has no problems with Muslims. The official line, endlessly repeated, is that Islam is a religion of peace, and therefore some other explanation has to be found for the ever-increasing acts of terror. This is a sure-fire way to arouse the anti-Muslim backlash it is intended to prevent.
France has a Muslim population of at least 6 million. Tension between Muslims and French natives is a fact of life, and liable to flare up on any pretext. One special ritual involves Muslims setting fire to cars and trucks and across France — on New Year’s Eve, they torched 1,067. Appearing not to notice, let alone react, the authorities are surprised to be held in even greater contempt. French jihadis have shot dead schoolchildren on one occasion, and tourists on another. Twelve people have now been murdered in the jihadi attack in Paris on the magazine Charlie Hebdo. Disguised as an issue of free speech, this is in fact a declaration of war.
Second only to France, Germany has an estimated 4.3 million Muslims. Treatment of minorities is a sore subject there, and Germans at all levels have gone out of their way to show good will. In 2010, Thilo Sarrazin, a cast-iron member of the establishment, published a book whose title can be translated as “Germany Is Deconstructing Itself,” in which he makes the flat statement that Muslim immigration has been “a gigantic mistake.” He has been ostracized but his book has sold 2 million copies. And the dam around the subject has burst.
A protest movement known as “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West,” or Pegida in its German acronym, has put thousands of supporters on to the streets in Dresden, Cologne, Stuttgart, and other cities. Counter-demonstrations immediately mobilized. From Chancellor Angela Merkel down, the authorities are obviously terrified in case this proves a popular cause, and do their utmost to compare Pegida with Nazism.
Five hundred fifty is the figure given for Muslims who have left Germany to fight for the Islamic State. About 160 are thought to have been killed in action in Syria and Iraq, and some 300 are said to have returned, been arrested, and imprisoned awaiting trial. Jürgen Todenhöfer is another cast-iron member of the establishment. Aged 74, a journalist and sometime member of parliament, he is the first Westerner to have been allowed into the territory captured and held by Islamic State. They plan mass genocide for everybody of other religions or none, and he comes to the conclusion, “The West has no conception of the threat it faces.”