In Europe today, it is what goes unacknowledged and un-commemorated that reveals the trouble we are in.
There are plenty of public campaigns and calls by politicians to demonstrate “awareness” of things that are either non-existent problems or second-order problems. Earlier this year, for instance, the President of Austria came up with an eye-catching initiative. Addressing the ban on women wearing full-face coverings in public places, Alexander van der Bellen, the former leader of the Green Party, said:
“If this real and rampant Islamophobia continues, there will come a day where we must ask all women to wear a headscarf — all — out of solidarity to those who do it for religious reasons.”
That day has not yet come. Non-Muslim women across Austria have not yet all been asked to wear the headscarf in solidarity with Muslim women who wear the headscarf. But it is possible that they will be asked to do so in the near future, whenever the President of Austria or another senior figure decides that “Islamophobia” has become even more “rampant” and that this requires all the women of Austria to cover their heads. By contrast, after real and deadly attacks on women across Europe, nobody knows precisely what to do.
Recently in Marseille, two women, aged 20 and 21, were walking past the Saint-Charles train station. The women — named as Mauranne and Laura — were cousins, one a medical student, and the other a trainee nurse. A man stabbed both of them to death, while shouting “Allahu Akbar” before each assault. This man — who was shot dead by police — is believed to hold a number of identities, including a Tunisian passport in the name of one Ahmed H, born in 1987.
The attack in Marseille is reminiscent of a number of attacks in Europe in recent years, not least the murder in August of two women and the wounding of eight others in the Finnish city of Turku. The perpetrator of that attack was a 22-year-old Moroccan, Abderrahman Bouanane, who had lied about his age, identity and asylum claims when he had arrived in Finland a year earlier.
After Turku, nothing changed. In the same way nothing will change after Marseille. On the same day that the latest two young women were butchered on the streets of France, an Islamist carried out an attack in Canada. In Edmonton, a 30-year-old Somali refugee stabbed a police officer and mowed down pedestrians with a van. An ISIS flag was subsequently found in the perpetrator’s car. In response to the atrocity, the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, released a statement, saying:
“We cannot — and will not — let violent extremism take root in our communities. We know that Canada’s strength comes from our diversity, and we will not be cowed by those who seek to divide us or promote fear.”
This response was almost perfectly European in its framing — and typical of the aftermath of any Islamist attack in Western Europe or North America.
It has no direction of travel other than “forward” and displays no evidence of returning to problems to think them over anew. It says simply that what has happened is because of something we will not change, and therefore we must simply accept the problem. “Diversity is our strength” is one part of this repetitious hymn-sheet. Another is to announce that we will not give in to “hate”.
The lack of any other response is deeply telling. In reply to the phantom menace of “Islamophobia”, political leaders across the Western world seem to have a clear set of priorities and proscriptions. So much so that they can even suggest every woman in the country changing their mode of dress to show solidarity against one alleged form of bigotry. Yet when it comes to responding to actual murders and stabbings of women and others they have nothing to say but “carry on”.
There are several possible reasons for this, but the most likely is that they know that it is the policies of successive governments, including their own, that have caused such attacks to happen. If countries like Canada, France and Finland had been more careful with their national security, these current attacks would not be happening. If the Canadian Prime Minister had not decided to make such a virtue of blindly opening his country to the world, he would not have the current immigration challenges they have. If he had decided to think, “We should be careful with our future” rather than “Diversity is our strength”, Canadian diversity would not have stretched to a Somali extremist.
If countries like Canada, France and Finland had been more careful with their national security, the current terrorist attacks would not be happening. Pictured: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right) meets with France’s President Emmanuel Macron (left), on July 7, 2017.
Likewise, it is only because European leaders have become so lax about their borders and entire immigration systems, that only after he stabs a number of women to death on European streets does anyone bother to find out how many identities the perpetrator holds and which parts of his claims for being in Europe are least true. Until then, it bothers Europe’s politicians not a jot that so many people are wandering the continent with so many erroneous and concocted reasons for being there in the first place.
In order to avoid the political repercussions that might follow any honest evaluation of our current situation, they seem to conclude that the only thing to be done is to carry on as normal. Pretend that terrorism is — like the weather — something that just happens to us, and continue to pretend that our principal problem is the bigotry of Europeans rather than another two women lying dead on our streets.
Gatestone Institute, October 6, 2017.
Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England. His latest book, an international best-seller, is “The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam.”
Follow Douglas Murray on Twitter.