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Political Islam: Democracy’s Lurking Iceberg
by

Instead of a congratulatory call to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan two Sundays ago, perhaps President Donald Trump should have made a condolence call to the leaders of Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Since 2009, it is estimated that 4.5 million Turks have emigrated to those countries. In the Netherlands, 71 percent of Dutch Turks enthusiastically supported the passage of the pro-Erdogan referendum, which effectively supercharged his already autocratic control of the Turkish government. Turkish populations in Belgium, Austria, France, and Germany registered similarly lopsided majorities who, despite the president’s repressive campaign of imprisoning journalists and secular critics, approve of Erdogan’s promise of accelerating the transformation of Turkey to a more Islamist state. Among other theocratic measures, Erdogan aims to abolish secular education and demolish separation of church and state.

Once the poster child of promise for the unique model of a Muslim-majority nation — capable of legislatively upholding an ironclad firewall between the harsher, less tolerant edicts of Islam and the secular, more pro-Western version — Turkey under Erdogan has steadily regressed towards a theocracy resembling Saudi Arabia.

Political Islam — not to be confused with the religion of Islam — is a political movement built around a regressive interpretation of the Koran. Also known as Islamism, political Islam regards “non-believers” to be blasphemous infidels who are to be either slaughtered or enslaved. If it sounds archaic, that’s because it is. Whether this plays out among Islamists in Jeddah, Tehran, Ramallah, London, Paris, Hamburg or Minneapolis, it is the same harshly autocratic ideology that proscribes the stoning of adulterous wives and the strangulation of homosexuals.

How is it, then, that these liberated Turks — having emigrated to the West — would continue to so passionately embrace Erdogan’s Islamist agenda? At its core, his agenda exemplifies the extreme antithesis of the pluralistic and humanistic values represented in the nations for which they left Turkey. The same question should be asked about the hordes of Syrian refugees who have injected themselves into all corners of the European Union, a large percentage of which, like their Turkish counterparts, defiantly denounce Western values as morally decayed.

Looking across the EU, these anti-democratic voices currently represent only a tiny minority. But their intense political aggressiveness, well-coordinated organizational activism, and comparatively higher rates of fertility present a serious political edge. This imbalance, when measured in combination against the vacuous ideological complacency of the overall European non-Muslim population, almost guarantees that the political Islamist agenda will materially affect future policy decisions in the EU.

Even in the tiny minority that it presently represents, the political weight of this bloc has, in complete disproportion to its size, been able to noticeably move the meter. Rioting in Denmark in 2005 by agitated Islamists left 250 dead after the Danish publication Jyllyands-Posten published the infamous “Danish cartoons,” which mocked Mohammed as a suicide bomber. Rather than imprison the rioters and murderers, Danish legislators enacted blasphemy laws restricting the free speech of all Danes.

Also in Denmark, a 42-year-old man was recently prosecuted under these same blasphemy laws for burning a Koran in his own backyard. Ironically, in 1997, Danish public TV promoted the burning of a bible on air. At present, Cyprus, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland have enacted criminal penalties for “Religious Insults.” In these nations, depending on the judge, public discussion of the anti-pluralistic and anti-democratic attributes of political Islam — discourse that in any openly pluralistic society would be considered legitimately debatable — is simply too costly.

Support of Erdogan’s regressive and anti-humanistic agenda by Turkish expats living in democracies must be seen by those nations, and all democracies, as a referendum that renders political Islam incompatible. At minimum, state sanctioning of discussion on the moral validity of policies urging the strangling of homosexuals, or failing to challenge the moral basis of honor killings, must be seen as the threshold by which a nation is considered to be a democracy.

In the shaping of all future policy relative to dealing with political Islam and the violent jihadis who facilitate political Islam’s racist political agenda, it is imperative that Americans appreciate the political iceberg that Western Europe is about to hit.

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