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Bernard Lewis: Islamized Europe or Europeanized Islam

January 30, 2007

Bernard Lewis:

The Muslims "seem to be about to take over Europe," Lewis said at a special briefing with the editorial staff of The Jerusalem Post.
Asked what this meant for the continent’s Jews, he responded, "The
outlook for the Jewish communities of Europe is dim." Soon, he warned,
the only pertinent question regarding Europe’s future would be, "Will
it be an Islamized Europe or Europeanized Islam?" The growing sway of
Islam in Europe was of particular concern given the rising support
within the Islamic world for extremist and terrorist movements, said

The problem doesn’t seem to be Islam per se, but the interaction between Islam and secular Europe:

"Europeans are losing their own loyalties and their
own self-confidence," he said. "They have no respect for their own
culture." Europeans had "surrendered" on every issue with regard to
Islam in a mood of "self-abasement," "political correctness" and
"multi-culturalism," said Lewis, who was born in London to middle-class
Jewish parents but has long lived in the United States.

The interplay between faith and culture is a tricky one, to be sure. I have come to believe that a strong sense of culture is compatible with Christianity, indeed desirable. There is always the danger that your culture can overtake, but I think a sensitivity and respect for one’s culture can open doors to dialog to those that might otherwise be considered "too other". Also being of the incarnational persuasion in theological matters, I feel it follows that just as Christ lived his life out in the flesh in a particular time and place, so should all Christians, wherever they find themselves "home".

I have my doubts about the adaptability of Islam though, especially when I see numbers like these:

The poll of 1,000 Muslims, weighted to
represent the population across the UK, found
that a growing minority of youngsters felt they had less in common with non-Muslims than their parents did.

While only 17 per cent of over-55s said they
would prefer to live under Sharia law, that
increased to 37 per cent of those aged 16 to 24.

Sharia law, which is practised in large parts of the Middle East,
specifies stonings and amputations as routine punishments for crimes.

It also acts as a religious code for living, covering dietary laws and
dress codes. Religious police are responsible for bringing suspects
before special courts.

The poll found that just 19 per cent of Muslims over 55 would prefer to
send their children to Islamic state schools. That increased to 37 per
cent of those aged 16 to 24.

If a Muslim converts to another religion, 36 per cent of
16-to-24-year-olds thought this should be punished by death, compared
with 19 per cent of 55s and over.

It’s not all bad though:

The vast majority of Muslims – 84 per cent – believed they had been treated fairly in British society.

How these young European Muslims grow up will be of great importance. Let’s hope they find a way to integrate as they mature.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Rob A. permalink
    January 30, 2007 10:11 pm

    You’re right when you write >>How these young European Muslims grow up will be of great importance. Let’s hope they find a way to integrate as they mature.

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