Muslims - Europe's New JewsWritten by Sam Vaknin
They inhabit self-imposed ghettoes, subject to derision and worse, perennial targets of far-right thugs and populist politicians of all persuasions. They are mostly confined to menial jobs. They are accused of spreading crime, terrorism and disease, of being backward and violent, of refusing to fit in.
Their religion, atavistic and rigid, insists on ritual slaughter and male circumcision. They rarely mingle socially or inter-marry. Most of them - though born in European countries - are not allowed to vote. Brown-skinned and with a marked foreign accent, they are subject to police profiling and harassment and all manner of racial discrimination.
They are new Jews of Europe - its Muslim minorities.
Muslims - especially Arab youths from North Africa - are, indeed, disproportionately represented in crime, including hate crime, mainly against Jews. Exclusively Muslim al-Qaida cells have been discovered in many West European countries. But this can be safely attributed to ubiquitous and trenchant long-term unemployment and to stunted upward mobility, both social and economic due largely to latent or expressed racism.
Moreover, stereotype is wrong. The incidence of higher education and skills is greater among Muslim immigrants than in general population - a phenomenon known as "brain drain". Europe attracts best and brightest - students, scholars, scientists, engineers and intellectuals - away from their destitute, politically dysfunctional and backward homelands.
The Economist surveys landscape of friction and withdrawal:
"Indifference to Islam has turned first to disdain, then to suspicion and more recently to hostility ... (due to images of) petro-powered sheikhs, Palestinian terrorists, Iranian ayatollahs, mass immigration and then attacks of September 11th, executed if not planned by western-based Muslims and succored by an odious regime in Afghanistan ... Muslims tend to come from poor, rural areas; most are ill-educated, many are brown. They often encounter xenophobia and discrimination, sometimes made worse by racist politicians. They speak language of wider society either poorly or not at all, so they find it hard to get jobs. Their children struggle at school. They huddle in poor districts, often in state-supplied housing ... They tend to withdraw into their own world, (forming a) self-sufficient, self-contained community."
This self-imposed segregation has multiple dimensions. Clannish behavior persists for decades. Marriages are still arranged - reluctant brides and grooms are imported from motherland to wed immigrants from same region or village. The "parallel society", in words of a British government report following Oldham riots two years ago, extends to cultural habits, religious practices and social norms.
Assimilation and integration has many enemies.
Remittances from abroad are an important part of gross national product and budgetary revenues of countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan. Hence their frantic efforts to maintain cohesive national and cultural identity of expats. DITIB is an arm of Turkish government's office for religious affairs. It discourages assimilation or social integration of Turks in Germany. Turkish businesses - newspapers, satellite TV, foods, clothing, travel agents, publishers - thrive on ghettoization.
There is a tacit confluence of interests between national governments, exporters and Islamic organizations. All three want Turks in Germany to remain as Turkish as possible. The more nostalgic and homebound expatriate - larger and more frequent his remittances, higher his consumption of Turkish goods and services and more prone he is to resort to religion as a determinant of his besieged and fracturing identity.
Muslim numbers are not negligible. Two European countries have Muslim majorities - Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania. Others - in both Old Europe and its post-communist east - harbor sizable and growing Islamic minorities. Waves of immigration and birth rates three times as high as indigenous population increase their share of population in virtually every European polity - from Russia to Macedonia and from Bulgaria to Britain. One in seven Russians is Muslim - over 20 million people.
According to March-April issue of Foreign Policy, non-Muslim part of Europe will shrink by 3.5 percent by 2015 while Muslim populace will likely double. There are 3 million Turks in Germany and another 12 million Muslims - Algerians, Moroccans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Egyptians, Senegalese, Malis, or Tunisians - in rest of European Union.
This is two and one half times number of Muslims in United States. Even assuming - wrongly - that all of them occupy lowest decile of income, their combined annual purchasing power would amount to a whopping $150 billion. Furthermore, recent retroactive changes to German law have naturalized over a million immigrants and automatically granted its much-coveted citizenship to 160,000 Muslims born in Germany every year.
Between 2-3 million Muslims in France - half their number - are eligible to vote. Another million - one out of two - cast ballots in Britain. These numbers count at polls and are not offset by concerted efforts of a potent Jewish lobby - there are barely a million Jews in Western Europe.
Muslims are becoming a well-courted swing vote. They may have decided last election in Germany, for instance. Recognizing their growing centrality, France established - though not without vote-rigging - a French Council of Islamic Faith, equivalent of Napoleon's Jewish Consistory. Two French cabinet members are Muslims. Britain has a Muslim Council.
The Self-Appointed Altruists - Part IWritten by Sam Vaknin
Their arrival portends rising local prices and a culture shock. Many of them live in plush apartments, or five star hotels, drive SUV's, sport $3000 laptops and PDA's. They earn a two figure multiple of local average wage. They are busybodies, preachers, critics, do-gooders, and professional altruists.
Always self-appointed, they answer to no constituency. Though unelected and ignorant of local realities, they confront democratically chosen and those who voted them into office. A few of them are enmeshed in crime and corruption. They are non-governmental organizations, or NGO's.
Some NGO's - like Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Amnesty - genuinely contribute to enhancing welfare, to mitigation of hunger, furtherance of human and civil rights, or curbing of disease. Others - usually in guise of think tanks and lobby groups - are sometimes ideologically biased, or religiously-committed and, often, at service of special interests.
NGO's - such as International Crisis Group - have openly interfered on behalf of opposition in recent elections in Macedonia. Other NGO's have done so in Belarus and Ukraine, Zimbabwe and Israel, Nigeria and Thailand, Slovakia and Hungary - and even in Western, rich, countries including USA, Canada, Germany, and Belgium.
The encroachment on state sovereignty of international law - enshrined in numerous treaties and conventions - allows NGO's to get involved in hitherto strictly domestic affairs like corruption, civil rights, composition of media, penal and civil codes, environmental policies, or allocation of economic resources and of natural endowments, such as land and water. No field of government activity is now exempt from glare of NGO's. They serve as self-appointed witnesses, judges, jury and executioner rolled into one.
Regardless of their persuasion or modus operandi, all NGO's are top heavy with entrenched, well-remunerated, extravagantly-perked bureaucracies. Opacity is typical of NGO's. Amnesty's rules prevent its officials from publicly discussing inner workings of organization - proposals, debates, opinions - until they have become officially voted into its Mandate. Thus, dissenting views rarely get an open hearing.
Contrary to their teachings, financing of NGO's is invariably obscure and their sponsors unknown. The bulk of income of most non-governmental organizations, even largest ones, comes from - usually foreign - powers. Many NGO's serve as official contractors for governments.
NGO's serve as long arms of their sponsoring states - gathering intelligence, burnishing their image, and promoting their interests. There is a revolving door between staff of NGO's and government bureaucracies world over. The British Foreign Office finances a host of NGO's - including fiercely "independent" Global Witness - in troubled spots, such as Angola. Many host governments accuse NGO's of - unwittingly or knowingly - serving as hotbeds of espionage.
Very few NGO's derive some of their income from public contributions and donations. The more substantial NGO's spend one tenth of their budget on PR and solicitation of charity. In a desperate bid to attract international attention, so many of them lied about their projects in Rwanda crisis in 1994, recounts "The Economist", that Red Cross felt compelled to draw up a ten point mandatory NGO code of ethics. A code of conduct was adopted in 1995. But phenomenon recurred in Kosovo.
All NGO's claim to be not for profit - yet, many of them possess sizable equity portfolios and abuse their position to increase market share of firms they own. Conflicts of interest and unethical behavior abound.
Cafedirect is a British firm committed to "fair trade" coffee. Oxfam, an NGO, embarked on a campaign targeted at Cafedirect's competitors, accusing them of exploiting growers by paying them a tiny fraction of retail price of coffee they sell. Yet, Oxfam owns 25% of Cafedirect.
Large NGO's resemble multinational corporations in structure and operation. They are hierarchical, maintain large media, government lobbying, and PR departments, head-hunt, invest proceeds in professionally-managed portfolios, compete in government tenders, and own a variety of unrelated businesses. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development owns license for second mobile phone operator in Afghanistan - among other businesses. In this respect, NGO's are more like cults than like civic organizations.