On September 25, I traveled with a group hosted by The Middle East Forum on a fact-finding mission to Europe. There were 33 attendees from Australia, UK, Canada and USA (academics, activists and ordinary citizens), and we spent two days each in Paris, Berlin and Stockholm. In each city we had a local guide, met with government officials and members of organizations and civil society. Names have not been used for reasons of security and privacy).
The main conversation in Europe is about migrants (mostly Muslim) and this is the topic all political parties are focused upon. Europe is heavily weighed down with the refugee crisis, which is not helped by EU porous borders. The entire concept of the European Union is under discussion.
In Paris we travelled along Boulevard La Chappelle and saw migrants living under the bridges. A small percent of these are Syrian, rest are North African, mostly Sudanese.
Our guide took us to St. Denis (the former religious shrine of the French Catholic kings and now a pre-dominantly Muslim area). It was like being in the Middle East with hardly a white person in sight.
Behind one of the oldest Church’s in France is the office of the Muslim Brotherhood running under the innocuous name of the Association of Cultural Muslims. The fallacy that these areas are “ghettos” was removed as we saw good housing, roads and infrastructure telling us that the problem is not socio-economic, but essentially a clash of ideologies and culture.
These areas are called “the lost territories of France” with high levels of crime and drugs, where police are hesitant to intervene. This is known commonly as “93 area” and all major Muslim organizations in France have their headquarters in the 93 area including the Muslim Brotherhood and Tablighi Jamaat.
Later we heard a French intellectual/ philosopher speak. He almost cried at what he felt was the loss of French culture by the growing majority of migrants from other cultures who will not integrate, assimilate or respect the host’s heritage. He fears a new French civilization taking root which does not include ethnic French communities.
Germany is reeling after Merkel’s decision to take in vast numbers of migrants. However, there are many Germans that feel that the country should take them in.
In Berlin we saw a huge difference between East and West. West Berlin shows much diversity, but in East Berlin, there are no signs of Islamic tradition.
The conversation in Berlin is about the future of Europe against a backdrop of Islam. There are many studies being done on the issue, including studies on anti Semitism. In the 1920’s Berlin was a major city for Jews, but the numbers are now dwindling due to the pull to go to Israel as well as fear for the future.
A Salafist mosque was closed down for inciting hatred and killing of Jews.
We visited the oldest mosque in Berlin run by the Ahmadiyya community, who work closely with all levels of government and community. Their sermons are in German, Arabic and English, and there is a move in Germany to ensure all mosques have their sermons in German and that Imams coming from other countries must speak German
A problem specific to Berlin is the animosity and tension between Turks and Arabs, with the Turks considered to be the more moderate community. There is also a problem with “clans or tribes,” where a family of 100 will live as a tribe close together and gang up against law enforcement if they come to investigate a crime.
This is how partial “no-go zones” are created as law enforcement is hesitant to enter these areas.
Sweden was the biggest shock. As soon as he entered our bus, our very Swedish tour guide said very clearly that he’s not very Swedish, which he said with pride. This was the attitude of most of the Swedish people we met, except the politicians who are working to bring about change.
The Swedes generally say that they don’t have a culture and that they have too much of a good thin, so they must share with others.
And share they do.
Sweden has taken per capita the largest numbers of immigrants and the consequences are over $50 billion in costs plus 55 “no-go zones.” According to one report, in 2015 Sweden took 162,887 asylum seekers mostly from the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region which included 35, 369 unaccompanied minors.
The largest numbers were from Syria and Afghanistan. If a person arrives in Sweden and says he is from Syria, he gets immediate refugee status and benefits.
The government has not helped the situation by placing, for example, 500 migrants in a small town of 150 Swedes. This is happening across Sweden where heritage buildings, hotels and old people’s homes have been turned into migrant centers with no move to educate and inform the host community or the migrants.
The pushback has been intense. Police want to resign because they can’t deal with the situation, as in Malmo where large groups of migrants reside and there are serious problems of sexual assault, heckling white people and attacking women.
See next Part II: Doubt and Denial
Raheel Raza is an award-winning author, journalist, and filmmaker on the topics of jihad and sharia. She is president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an activist for human rights, gender equality, and diversity. She is one of nine women’s rights activists who took part in Clarion Project’s film “Honor Diaries” which breaks the silence on honor violence against women.