Hatred Without Borders Douglas Murray
It is 14 years now since Christopher Caldwell published his book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West. That book asked the interesting, provocative question, "Can Europe be the same with different people in it?" — a question that policy-makers in Europe either dodged or answered glibly. It is now 17 years since Mark Steyn wrote his best seller America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, in which he too addressed the question of demography in Europe.
Those are not the only two books on the subject, of course, but they are among the boldest. For over 20 years, a range of writers from a bewildering array of backgrounds have tried to warn Europeans that there will be a cost to mass immigration from the Muslim world. We have had Thilo Sarrazin, Éric Zemmour, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the late Oriana Fallaci. Almost every country in Europe produced its own prophets or seers. Each in turn had to face the same brickbats of abuse. Sometimes verbal. Sometimes worse.
But as I described in my own contribution to this genre in 2017 (The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam), the mass movement of Muslims into Europe has had effects that those who allowed the migration were bizarrely blind to.
For instance, until Valentine's Day 1989 nobody in Europe knew what a fatwa was. Then suddenly everybody knew, and we learned that large proportions of our populations felt very strongly about novels if they were seen to be insulting the founder of Islam. But the learning can't have gone very deep, because Muslim immigration to Europe after 1989 continued to grow.
After 2001 we learned that a certain number of Muslims in our midst were not moderate. What was the extremist percentage? Nobody really knew. Or nobody bothered to find out. It might be 1 percent. It might be 40 percent. But why raise the issue? It seemed easier to wish it away. And Muslim immigration continued.
In 2005 we learned that significant numbers of Muslims in the West were willing to take to the street, and that some would even commit murder, over a cartoon if they thought it blasphemous. Tiny Denmark in the north of Europe suddenly found itself a center of the world, with its flags being burned everywhere from London to Islamabad. In the years that followed, mass migration continued. Indeed it sped up.
All through the last decade, as terrorist attacks — suicide bombings, mass murder, assassinations, and much more — have come to almost every European country, Europe continued to speed up the flow of Muslim immigration.
This is something that future historians will surely marvel at: that a society which seemed to be having problems with a nontrivial percentage of recent arrivals should speed up the influx of those very people. It will baffle them. It baffles me, and I've lived it.
Which brings me to the events of the past month. Because of course what has happened on the streets of Europe is a bigger example of what we have seen on certain American streets and certainly on college campuses: a wild explosion of hatred against Israel, for being attacked by Hamas.
And no one should be under any illusion about the order of things. The day after the massacre, I went to observe a protest in Times Square in New York. At this stage, Israeli forces were still securing the sites of the various massacres, and most of the dead were still unaccounted for. Israel had thus far engaged in no retaliation whatsoever. And yet in Times Square hundreds of New Yorkers gathered to protest against Israel. Some openly showed support for Hamas with various banners and chants. The day after the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. And it was the same in cities across Europe.
Once Israel's military response did start, these protests grew. The signs that something very bad indeed is boiling up can now be seen everywhere. It's not just Europe. It is anywhere that has taken in large numbers of Muslim immigrants in recent decades.
In Australia it was recent arrivals in the country who gathered outside the Sydney Opera House to chant, "Gas the Jews." In France the government banned protests — as the laws of the republic allow it to do — but the protests went ahead anyway. In Germany a synagogue was immediately firebombed, and houses of Jews had Stars of David graffitied on them. In towns large and small there were protests. In a few days traveling around the continent, I saw large anti-Israel protests everywhere from Portugal to Norway.
The U.K. might stand as the test study in whether a country can be the same with different people in it. Two Fridays after October 7, mosques across the U.K. hosted sermons supporting the massacres. In Manchester the imam prayed for the victory of the "mujahedeen" against the "usurping Jews." In Redbridge the imam prayed for the victory of Muslims over the "cursed" Jews and infidels, finishing, "Scatter them and rip their groups apart. Destroy their houses and homes, bring them down and punish them like you do criminals. Make Muslims get their victory." In Lewisham the imam called for all Muslim countries to invade Israel and then prayed for a Hamas victory.
The next day, the protesters turned out in most major cities. In London a crowd of somewhere near 100,000 shouted calls for jihad and for "Muslim armies" to rise up, with people spouting every known trope of antisemitism. In response to criticism for letting this go on, the Metropolitan Police observed on social media that the term "jihad" has a wide variety of meanings. Not when it is shouted at top volume on the streets of your cities, it doesn't. But there the police left it, thinking the problem might go away.
It didn't, of course. Every succeeding week the protests have become more vitriolic, more violent, and more openly seditious. At this stage, the mainly young Muslims on the streets are quite evidently enjoying the humiliation of the British police. One man was filmed in Trafalgar Square at the beginning of November shouting in the faces of cowed officers that they were his "slaves." The actor and conservative activist Laurence Fox asked police in the square where he could report a "hate crime," pointing to the rather expansive hate crime happening only a few yards away — only for the police to confess in as many words that there was no chance that any action would be taken. "We're outnumbered," one officer said, in a moment of rare honesty.
That same day, the cenotaph to the dead of the two world wars had to be barricaded to protect it from pro-Palestinian protesters. A small group of self-described patriots also turned up to protect the monument. This seemed to be needed because other statues across London were defaced with pro-Palestinian flags and propaganda. Elsewhere the city started to resemble a battleground as scuffles broke out with police, Jews were accosted in the street by Muslims, and gangs of people took over the London Underground and chanted for "intifada" in the subway cars. One brave young Iranian man walked into the center of the London protest with a sign saying, "Hamas is terrorist." Immediately he was accosted by other protesters and the sign torn out of his hands. Anyone who wants to pretend these marches are simply "pro-peace" or "pro-Palestinian" should study such conduct. One might also compare it with a "free the hostages" protest in Parliament Square the following day, at which a group of British Jews and others gathered to call for the release of those abducted by Hamas. There everyone was civil to the police, nobody called for violence, and the event finished with the crowd singing Britain's national anthem.
The police are just some of the people who cannot get a grip on the problem. Equally blameworthy figures include the nation's political leaders, a number of whom have rejected Israel's right to defend itself. And it is noticeable that the first to do so were various Muslim politicians. These included, but were not limited to, Sadiq Khan (the mayor of London), Humza Yousaf (the first minister of Scotland), and Anas Sarwar (the leader of the Scottish Labour Party). By contrast, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman have remained solid in their defense of Israel. Braverman has even drawn flak from her own side for referring to the anti-Israel marches as "hate marches."
She is a leader of exceptional strength in these times, but the question must arise in more heads than mine: Would the home secretary have held such a line if she happened to be Muslim? Because the truth is what Europe and the wider West have spent recent decades so assiduously pretending away. People are the products of their culture, and that includes their religious culture. If you admit large numbers of immigrants from a Scottish Presbyterian culture, your country will lean in one direction. If you admit large numbers from the Muslim world, which includes a very antisemitic culture, it will lean in another direction. That we have been so unwilling to recognize this is a failure of observation or an exercise in denialism on a historic scale.
History may have one other trick up her sleeve. Of course Europe won't be the same with different people in it. With perhaps one exception.
In the wake of the Holocaust, the one unifying message in Germany was "Never again." The one thing Germany knew it mustn't do was what it did in the 1930s and '40s. And so in the name of moving on, Germany had an open immigration policy, bringing in millions of people from Turkey and other parts of the Muslim world. In 2015 the country's chancellor famously opened the borders of Europe to millions of people from Africa and the Middle East. "We can do it," Angela Merkel famously said in German. What the "it" might be was left largely unclear.
Well, it seems clear now. As I write, a vast anti-Israel protest has just marched down the central streets of Berlin: tens of thousands of Muslims, all giving their full-throated opposition to the very existence of the Jewish state. So no, Europe will not be the same with different people in it. But Germany might be.
Editor's note: Suella Braverman was fired as home secretary after this article went to press.
Published in National Review