November 29, 2007

An Accident and a Murder

At Brussels Journal; Whom Will France Mourn?

Yesterday evening, three young people died in the suburbs to the north of Paris. Mouhsin (15) and Lakamy (16), two immigrant youths, were killed in Villiers-le-Bel when their motorcycle, which is said to have been stolen, collided at high speed with a police vehicle. The two youths, who were not wearing compulsory crash helmets, died on the spot. A few hours later, Anne-Lorraine (23), a young journalist, was stabbed to death on a suburban train near Creil, whilst resisting a man who was trying to rape her. The man had already been convicted for violent sexual assault in 1996.

The news of the deaths of Mouhsin and Lakamy became world news, dominating today’s media in France and abroad. Anne-Lorraine’s death is a mere footnote, a “faits divers” in France, a non-event abroad.

For more European perspective on the problems of reconciling Islam with modern Western society, I stumbled upon three good examples at the enthralling site on European culture, Sign and Sight.

First, a brief review of a new German film called "Hamburg Lessons", which consists entirely of a narrator reading from the actual texts of recorded messages delivered in 2000 by Mohammed Fazazi, Imam of the al-Quds mosque in Hamburg, where three of the 9/11 pilots were regulars.

Then a report on a senseless stabbing of one Muslim teenager by another in an Amsterdam school, and the deep denial exhibited by Muslim parents of the violence and alienation of their children. This is written by a researcher who interviewed all the parents in her study of the neighborhood of Mohammed Bouyeri, murderer of Theo van Gogh.

Finally, a piece by Franz Haas on how Italy is coming to grips with the growing influence of Islam. So far, Italy has avoided the kinds of major terror attacks experienced in London and Madrid, but....

...the more obvious problems of living together with more or less radical Muslims in their own country are a constant theme in the Italian public sphere. The issues include building new mosques, the dispute over headscarves, veils and burqas, the restrictive dress codes for women and the "honour killings" of Muslim girls determined to adopt Western lifestyles. The case of Hina Saleem, a young Pakistani woman living in Brescia, who had her throat cut by her father assisted by other male members of her family because she wore the latest fashions and had an Italian fiance caused a major sensation in summer 2006. A representative of a Muslim women's organization investigating the murder recently received death threats from Islamic extremists. Female circumcision is also a horrifyingly widespread secret practice – according to the newspaper Corriere della Sera, there are some 25,000 women with mutilated genitals living in Italy.

In view of such practices as "honour killings" and genital mutilation you don't need to be a pessimist to ask whether these horrific manifestations of an archaic way of life imposed by the dictates of theology will ever be rejected by all Muslims in the Western world or whether the principles of radical Islam are not fundamentally incompatible with those of the West today.

Posted by dan at November 29, 2007 1:19 AM