Perhaps alone in the coterie focused on the Islamist threat to Europe, I am cheerful these days. That’s because I see the anti-Islamist reaction growing even more quickly than the Islamist threat itself.
The stirring speech by British Prime Minister David Cameron on Feb. 5, in which he intelligently focused on what he called the “hands-off tolerance” of “Islamist extremism,” including its non-violent forms, exactly fits this pattern.
In similar fashion, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany last October deemed multiculturalism to have “utterly failed.” A referendum in Switzerland about minarets manifested the concerns of that country’s population – and polling around the continent showed those sentiments to be widely shared.
The rise of respectable political parties primarily focused on the issues surrounding Islam – with Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands at the forefront – is perhaps the single most encouraging sign, compelling legacy parties like the British Conservatives to pay attention. I differ with many specifics of these initiatives – Anthony Daniels rightly points out, for example, some of what Cameron neglected in his speech – but those are secondary. That, over time, individuals and organizations are finding their voice and are learning strategy and tactics to fend off Islamism gives Europe civilizational hope.
Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.