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Preemptive Appeasement

Europe's new strategy for the war on terror.

12:00 AM, Sep 21, 2007 • By DANIEL MANDEL
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TWO WEEKS AGO, Judge Simon Cardon de Lichtbuer of the Brussels civil court ruled that he lacked authority to overturn a decision by the city's mayor, Freddy Thielemans, to ban a demonstration planned for September 11 under the slogan of 'Stop the Islamization of Europe.' The rally had been called to protest what its British, Danish and German organizers call the "creeping" Islamization of European society.

Provocative in their assertion of Islam's incompatibility with democracy, the rally organizers nonetheless would have been violating no known law. Yet Thielemans (who had approved a September 9 rally by a group of conspiracy theorists who claim that the September 11 attacks were orchestrated by the Bush administration) neither liked them nor the possibility of a violent reaction from what he termed "Muslims," "peace activists" and "democrats."

This is but the latest manifestation of a disturbing European malaise--preemptive cringe before the threat of violence from Muslim extremists. It is no secret that Muslim extremists in Europe are very much likely to offer violence in response to conduct deemed hostile to Islam. Three key examples:

* November 2004: Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered by an Islamist in broad daylight in the streets of Amsterdam after making a short film dealing with the travails of Muslim women in traditional Islamic communities. Pinned to his chest by a dagger was a note threatening Western governments, Jews, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born feminist and former Dutch parliamentarian who wrote the film script and who has since left Holland for America.

* September 2005: 12 cartoons depicting Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten resulted in the torching of Danish embassies, boycotts against Danish goods and weeks of protest in Muslim countries.

* September 2006: Pope Benedikt, in the course of an academic address, quoted harsh criticism of Islam by a 14th-century Byzantine emperor, leading to the gutting of six Middle East churches, the murder of a nun and her bodyguard in Somalia, and countless furious protests and calls for the murder of the pontiff.

The effect of violence and its threat can now be seen in unprecedented acts of self-censorship by the European majority populations and their governing authorities, with Britain in particular affording several examples: