The city of Cologne, still famous for its scented water, has become, since last New Year's Eve, best known for the depredations and misogyny of a growing population of immigrants from North Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere. The events of that evening, when hundreds of women were assaulted, manhandled, and even raped by thousands of migrant newcomers who could not be restrained by the police, spread across the world in days if not hours.
At first, the police played down the seriousness of the incidents, but by January 10th, the BBC reported that the number of criminal cases had risen to 516, forty percent of which were related to sexual assault. According to German police, "Asylum seekers and illegal migrants from North Africa comprise the majority of suspects." This has been confirmed by Germany's interior ministry, which has stated that almost all those involved were migrants.
Of course, Cologne was only the most prominent city to undergo such an ordeal: According to the Washington Post, "No city was hit harder than Cologne, where gangs of mostly young men are alleged to have 'hunted' women, corralling them before groping, assaulting and robbing them." A smaller number of incidents occurred in other German cities such as Hamburg, Stuttgart, and Frankfurt. In the thirteenth-century city of Bielefeld, more than 500 presumed asylum seekers attacked the Elephant Club , a night spot, and assaulted some of the women there. There were similar cases on the same evening in Austria, Switzerland, Finland and Sweden.
Regular readers of articles by authors such as Soeren Kern or Ingrid Carlqvist at the Gatestone Institute will be fully aware of the widespread breakdown of several European countries as a result of uncontrolled immigration. That includes not just the massive wave of immigration during 2015, but the steady collapse of law and order engendered by earlier influxes of Muslim migrants, notably in Germany, the United Kingdom and France. This has been exacerbated by the problem that, whereas many first generation incomers gradually found ways to integrate within mainstream society, there is a trend among third-generation children to demand rights and concessions above those granted to other citizens.
There are an estimated 750 zones urbaines sensibles ("sensitive urban zones") in France; many cities in Europe have such high levels of Muslim exclusivity that they have become no-go zones for the police, the fire brigade, social workers and others. According to one report
"It's not Norway or Europe anymore, except when there is welfare money to be collected. The police have largely given up. Early in 2010 Aftenposten stated that there are sharia patrols in this area, and gay couples are assaulted and chased away. Immigrant Fatima Tetouani says that 'Grønland is more Muslim than Morocco.'"
Three months earlier, retired police Chief Superintendent Torsten Elofsson of Malmö, Sweden's third city, declared that the crime rate in the city was skyrocketing due to the influence of uncontrolled immigration and the presence of no-go areas. The French city of Marseilles, with a 30%-40% Muslim population, has been declared "the most dangerous city in Europe" because of an increasing level of extreme violence, riots and rapes.
What appals so many onlookers is that this damage is being done with open eyes and listening ears and that many lessons have not been learned, not just in the past year but over decades. What on earth, many of us ask, could have impelled so many European leaders -- among whom German Chancellor Angela Merkel stands out -- to have opened their arms to potentially millions of immigrants without imposing checks, registration at the point of entry, or other legal controls?
The whole situation was sparked, of course, by the staggering break-up of Syria over so many years. This break-up has led to the flight of very large numbers of genuine refugees, so many of them risking their lives to bring their children across the Mediterranean in the hope of finding safety in the European Union.
If we are to analyse what has happened, we can do no better than to start with this fact. There is in all of this an irony of mammoth proportions. Welcoming people who fear for their lives and their children's futures is a strong trait of Western civilization. Unlike so many other cultures, the Judaeo-Christian and post-Enlightenment West has a deeply-rooted commitment to human rights, and those rights are not restricted to ourselves but to all mankind. Both Judaism and Christianity are suffused with a sense of human brotherhood, and that sense has led to the modern ideals of rights for women, people of all races, homosexuals, the disabled, religious minorities, and the victims of violence. Nowhere, perhaps, has this been more visible in the United States, a country that was built on the backs of immigrants.
With this in view, and with the memory of the Holocaust and Europe's failure to prevent it in mind, it was inevitable that European countries would at first welcome the poor, hungry and distressed of Syria and other places.
But here lies the irony. Our undiscriminating welcome is leading us to welcome people many of whom seem dedicated to bringing about our internal collapse. This collapse may be far from total now, but there are grave misgivings about how Europe will look in the future, and certainly by the end of the century. Politicians, church leaders, and charity bosses have been looking at only one side of the equation.
There may not be a Huntingtonian "Clash of Civilizations" at present, but cultural clashes have been dominating the debate, even if many worthy individuals and organizations prefer to turn a blind eye to their consequences.
There have been cultural clashes throughout history, but in the last two hundred years, they have grown in size and intensity. Under the great Islamic empires, clashes between the Muslim ruling classes and religious minorities were usually held in check by the enforcement of Islamic norms. The Western imperial powers also governed by a combination of force, law and bureaucratic administration.
Modern democracies, however, are disinclined to control the behaviour of individuals and groups. They prefer to give citizens freedom to act and speak within the law. Societies have become multicultural, with tolerance of differences a source of pride. Racism has, thankfully, given way in most places to mutual acceptance. In America, Irish, Polish and Italian Catholics settled within a generation or two to become loyal citizens with a minimum of foreign cultural traits.
This is the positive side of multiculturalism. The presence of different cuisines, music, and art of course enriches society, but there is a negative side too. And that is where this irony comes to the fore. A broad Western value is that individuals may, within the bounds of decency, dress much as they please. With the exception of France, Muslim women are free to wear hijabs or other coverings. The increase of veiled women in, say, Britain, has been startling, given that wearing the hijab is now associated with Muslim self-assertion. Others, however, find the hijab and other styles of veil symbols of the oppression of women. In countries such as Saudi Arabia or Iran, "improperly" veiled women may be fined, flogged, or, in some cases, executed on charges of prostitution. In many instances, passers-by may attack them, as in the acid-throwing attacks by the Ansar-e Hezbollah gangs last year in Iran.
In Western countries, freedom of speech and expression is supposed to be a non-negotiable value of public life, with open comment and debate regarded as the life-blood of an open society (as defined, for example, by the late Sir Karl Popper). But, as case after case has shown in Europe and the United States, freedom of this kind is anathema to all devout Muslims. Novels have been banned; authors and translators attacked, flogged and murdered; cartoons have led to rioting, a film-maker was stabbed through the heart -- all for having said or illustrated something that allegedly offended some Muslims. Meanwhile, Muslim radicals make use of their freedom to write, publish, and post on the internet vast quantities of hate speech, that often includes a denial of the right to Western freedoms, not only to themselves but to everyone. What is sauce for the goose has become not sauce for the gander.
While serious attempts are made to remove terror-linked Islamic websites from the internet, there are still hundreds if not thousands of websites that present a non-terrorist form of extremism. As recently reported by London's Daily Mail, Muslim hate speakers are given free rein to address students at many British universities. The double-standard and hypocrisy is that the same universities have banned controversial but important speakers such as the feminist Germaine Greer, historian David Starkey, or just about anybody who supports the state of Israel. And if speakers are not actually banned, hordes of ideologically-inspired students and outsiders will turn up to disrupt their lectures with shouts, screams, and threats. This happened on 19 January, when a mob of anti-Israel activists at King's College, London, attacked a talk given by Ami Ayalon, now a peace activist and former head of Israeli secret service Shin Bet and commander-in-chief of the navy. The meeting was disturbed by protestors, thought to be from the KCL Action Palestine student group, who threw chairs, smashed windows, and set off fire alarms.
Not all of these bans have been down to Muslims, but many -- including the anti-Israel campaigners -- have included a large Muslim presence. Anyone who speaks out against the clash between extremist Islam and European culture is bound to be condemned as a "racist" or an "Islamophobe." Such is the illiberal "liberal" culture that sees even the mildest concern to be opposed to the "righteous" tendencies of our moral guardians -- such as highly conservative Christians like Britain's intolerant Mary Whitehouse.
The irony of the current situation not only relates to our tolerance of Islamic intolerance, but to a more visceral clash of cultures based on expectations and social habits. When Jews, Irish, Polish, and Hispanic Catholics were first thrown into the American melting pot alongside conservative Protestants, the pain of integrating was lessened because they had broadly similar attitudes on moral and social values. Religious views aside, these were people trained in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, aspiring to, or familiar with, democracy, respectful of women (if not yet believers in sexual equality), and in general averse to crime (if we ignore the mobs from each ethnic group). Finding common ground was not always easy, especially for Jews, but there was a basis upon which to forge allegiances, not least the concept of being citizens of a new country in which there were, in principle, opportunities for everyone.
The immigrants now flooding into Europe may often feel the same, but the events of New Year's Eve, taken with the no-go zones and the general anti-Western attitudes
, suggest that as many of them harbour attitudes that are indeed alien, and often antithetical to, modern Western norms. Only about half of the recent immigrants are Syrian refugees desperate to escape a landscape of ruined cities and daily fighting.
Last October, the New York Times wrote:
Aid groups say the chaotic nature of the human traffic has left them without a full picture of the current wave of people reaching Europe. The United Nations refugee agency says that just over half are Syrians, followed by smaller groups from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq and elsewhere. Sixty-nine percent are men, 13 percent women and 18 percent children.
The largest single group appears to be young men, open to adventure but woefully ill-informed about what they are getting into. Among the dozens of them interviewed recently in Turkey and Greece, only a few spoke any languages other than their native tongue, and most knew little about the countries they hoped to make their new home. Some were surprised to learn that beer and pork are prominent in German cuisine.
During 2015, applications for asylum within the EU came from a total of thirty countries, with Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis at the top. Eritreans also made up a substantial portion. Despite claims that the vast majority are economic migrants, not genuine war refugees, the Economist has cast cold water on this in an article entitled "How many migrants to Europe are refugees?". Nevertheless, official statistics do not usually include illegal refugees. The chaotic conditions of 2015 made it much easier for illegals to enter, and the people-smuggling trade is known to be vast.
The mass sexual assaults on New Year's Eve, and many through the year, are clearly the work of single, mainly young men. In packs, people can more easily give in to anti-social tendencies, but these men from North Africa and the Middle East seem to bring with them social attitudes that make it hard for them to conform with European notions of what is, and what is not, criminal or decent. In North Africa and the Middle East, sex outside marriage is risky for both partners, especially in societies where honour-killings take place. The open romantic experience that is common throughout Western countries is not open to Arab men and may only be pursued in Iran through the institution of temporary (mut'a) marriage. For sexual fulfilment in those societies, marriage, or alternative options, are essential. In 2007, Navtej Dhillon, of the Brookings Institute, wrote:
Marriage, long the centerpiece of Middle Eastern life, is in crisis. The reason: a new generation of young men cannot afford to marry--a fact that's destined to exacerbate many of the region's social and political problems. Little more than a decade ago, 63 percent of Middle Eastern men married by their late 20s. Today the figure is just over 50 percent. Iran brings up the rear, at 38 percent, with the swathe of Maghreb between the Levant and Morocco only marginally better. Contrast that to Asia, which leads the nuptial race with 77 percent of men aged 25 to 29 being married, followed by 69 percent in Latin America and 66 percent in Africa.
The consequences of these trends are profound. In most Arab countries, a bachelor's life is devoid of economic and social opportunities. Marriage remains the path to adulthood, social status and legitimate sexual relationships. In contrast to Americans and Europeans, the majority of Arab men in their late 20s are not staying single by choice. They are forced into it by circumstances.
Sometimes young men in North Africa pester Western women, tourists or expatriates, in the wish that they are as hungry for sex as they themselves are and will submit to any man's advances. Local students in a Moroccan university (women as well as men) once told this writer that there had been a dearth of men in Europe after World War II and that, as a result, desperate European women had swarmed to Africa in search of "real" men who could satisfy their passions. Arguing that this was nonsense, I quickly became aware that they sincerely believed this. Any Western woman who has ever been followed by men in these countries can readily testify to how unpleasant such unwanted attention can be. Part of this unpleasantness is knowing that, if a Western woman tried to lodge a complaint with the police, she would almost certainly be held to blame, whether by dressing in a certain way or simply acting as an independent person.
That is why men who come directly from countries with a wholly different set of sexual mores, and who find themselves on the streets with (to them) scantily-dressed and attractive young women, act in the way they did on New Year's Eve. Although rapes of women do take place in North Africa and the Middle East, they are rare. Believing that Western women are happy to be raped or fondled and that, as non-Muslims, they may be regarded as "fair game," is a green light for men brought up in puritanical Islamic societies.
Fortunately, recent events have been something of a wake-up alarm. Norway is already providing classes for refugees on Norwegian cultural norms, including sexual mores. The Danish parliament has debated doing the same, and Belgium has just announced that it will makes classes on "respect for women" obligatory for all non-European migrants and refugees. Will Germany follow? Or will political correctness insist that doing so would be contemptuous of the autonomy and cultural rights of non-white people?
Denis MacEoin taught at the University of Fez from 1979 to 1980. He is currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.