Europe: Allah Takes over Churches, Synagogues by Giulio Meotti

  • In the Dutch province of Friesland, 250 of 720 existing churches have been transformed or closed. The Fatih Camii Mosque in Amsterdam once was the Saint Ignatius Church. A synagogue in The Hague was turned into the Al Aqsa Mosque. In Flanders, in place of a famous church, a luxury hotel now stands. Catholic arches, columns and windows still soar between menus and tables for customers.

  • “The French will not wake up until Notre Dame becomes a mosque.” — Emile Cioran, author.
  • Germany is literally selling its churches. Between 1990 and 2010, the German Evangelical Church closed 340 churches. Recently in Hamburg, a Lutheran church was purchased by the Muslim community.
  • “History teaches us that these transformations are rarely innocent.” — Bertrand Dutheil de La Rochère, assistant to Marine Le Pen.

Last year, at the famous Biennale artistic festival in Venice, Swiss artist Christian Büchel took the ancient Catholic Church of Santa Maria della Misericordia and converted it into a mosque. The church had not been used for Christian worship for more than forty years. Büchel decorated the baroque walls with Arabic writing, covered the floor with a prayer rug, and hid the crucifix behind a prayer niche indicating the direction of Mecca, the holy city of Islam. It was a provocation.

But everywhere else in Europe, the practice of Islam really is outstripping Christianity, while Jews are leaving — not only France but the old continent — en masse.

In January, Zvi Ammar, the president of the Marseille Israelite Consistory, recommended that Jews that stop wearing a kippah (skullcap) when out in the street. Too many anti-Semitic incidents have cast fear into the hearts of Marseille’s 70,000 Jews, who make up a tenth of the city’s population. 500 Jews already left the city in 2015. A few days ago, Mr. Ammar announced another attempt at appeasement: the conversion of a historic synagogue into a mosque.

The synagogue Or Torah [“light of the Torah”] was bought by the Muslim organization Al Badr for 400,000 euros ($456,000). The synagogue was empty, due to rampant anti-Semitism in Marseille, while the nearby mosque, run by Al Badr, was unable to handle the overcrowding every Friday, with the faithful forced to pray in the street (a quarter of the inhabitants of Marseille are Muslim). Muslims in Marseille already have 73 mosques.

A year ago, the Muslim French leader Dalil Boubakeur suggested turning empty churches into mosques. It is the first time in France that something similar happened to a synagogue. “History teaches us that these transformations are rarely innocent,” said Bertrand Dutheil de La Rochère, an assistant to Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front party. He appeared to be comparing the fate of the synagogue to that of the Hagia Sophia Basilica, which became a mosque in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1453, after its capture by the Muslim Ottoman Turks.

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was the grandest cathedral in the Christian world, until it was captured and converted to a mosque by the Muslim Ottoman Turks in 1453. The Middle East is full of churches and synagogues turned into Islamic sites. Today, every traveler in a modern European city can notice the new mosques being built alongside abandoned and secularized churches, some converted into museums. (Image source: Antoine Taveneaux/Wikimedia Commons)

“What should we do?” Zvi Ammar asked this author.

“Security concerns had already pushed the Jews out of the city’s center. We could no longer live in a Muslim area, so the synagogue was empty. Thousands of synagogues in the Arab-Islamic world, from Libya to Morocco, from Iraq to Tunisia, have been converted into mosques. The only difference is that in France, Muslims cannot expropriate a synagogue; they have to pay for it.”

What a sad consolation.

Zvi Ammar, however, is right: not only is the Middle East full of synagogues turned into Islamic sites, but also of churches converted into mosques, such as the Umayyad in Damascus, the Ibn Tulun in Cairo and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. In Hebron and on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Muslim conquerors built their sites atop the Jewish ones.

A few years ago, Niall Ferguson, the brilliant contemporary historian, wrote about Europe’s future as “the creeping Islamicization of a decadent Christendom.” It is easy to find images of the decay of Europe’s Christianity and the growth of Islam in the heart of the old continent. Every traveler in any modern European city can notice the new mosques being built alongside abandoned and secularized churches, some converted into museums.

The most crucial moment in Michel Houellebecq’s novel, Submission, is when the novel’s protagonist, a Sorbonne professor searching for a conversion experience, visits a Christian shrine, only to find himself unmoved. This is a reality in France.

In the French region of Vierzon, the Church of Saint-Eloi has become a mosque. The diocese of Bourges had put the church on sale, and a Muslim organization made a most generous offer to buy the site. In the Quai Malakoff, in Nantes, the old Church of Saint Christopher became the Mosque of Forqane.

In the Dutch province of Friesland, 250 of 720 existing churches have been transformed or closed. The Fatih Camii Mosque in Amsterdam once was the Saint Ignatius Church. A synagogue in The Hague was turned into the Al Aqsa Mosque. The Church of St. Jacobus, one of the oldest of the city of Utrecht, was recently converted into a luxury residence. A library just opened in a former Dominican church in Maastricht.

The main mosque in Dublin is a former Presbyterian church. In England, the St. Marks Cathedral is now called the New Peckam Mosque, while in Manchester, the Mosque of Disbury was once a Methodist church. In Clitheroe, Lancashire, the authorities granted permission to have an Anglican church, Saint Peter’s Church in Cobridge, transformed into the Madina Mosque. It is no longer taboo in the media to talk about “the end of British Christianity.”

Belgium, once a cradle of European Catholicism, is closing dozens of its churches. The Church of St. Catherine, built in 1874, dominates the historic center of Brussels, the only religious building created in the city’s “pentagon” at the end of Ancien Régime, and today one of the most protected in the EU’s capital, especially after the terror attacks there on March 22, 2016. Brussels, however, wanted to convert the church into a fruit market. Only the mobilization of the faithful hindered the city’s plan.

Last month, The Economist explained what is happening in Belgium, once famous for the Madonna of Bruges, one of Michelangelo’s most famous paintings: “If anything holds Belgium together through its third century of existence, Catholicism will not be the glue,” the magazine wrote. That, it noted, will be Islam. In Brussels, half the children in state schools choose classes in Islam; practicing Catholics amount to 12%, while 19% are practicing Muslims.

According to La Libre newspaper, dozens of Belgian churches are in imminent danger of conversion to other uses. The Church of Saint-Hubert in Watermael-Boitsfort is expected to accommodate apartments, while the Church of the Holy Family of Schaerbeek awaits an investor. In Malonne, the chapel of Piroy has been transformed into a restaurant. In Namur, the Saint-Jacques Church was transformed into a clothing store and the Church of Notre Dame, built in 1749 and deconsecrated in 2004, is now a “cultural space.” The square will be redeveloped, with ticketing services and catering. Dozens of exhibitions, concerts and fashion shows have already been held in the church. In Tournai, the Church of St. Margherita has been transformed into apartments.

Eight centuries after its founding, the Church of the Blessed Sacrament at Binche, a majestic building in the heart of a medieval town close to Brussels, was put on sale for the symbolic sum of one euro. In Mechelen, Flanders, in place of a famous church, a luxury hotel has arisen. Catholic arches, columns and windows still soar between menus and tables for customers.

Despite the fact that the “Pope Emeritus,” Joseph Ratzinger, comes from Germany, that Chancellor Angela Merkel is the daughter of a Lutheran minister and the current German president, Joachim Gauck, is a Protestant pastor, Germany is literally selling its churches. Between 1990 and 2010, the German Evangelical Church closed 340 churches. Recently, in Hamburg, a Lutheran church was purchased by the Muslim community. In Spandau, the church of St. Raphael is now a grocery store. In Karl Marx’s town, Trier, some churches have been turned into gyms. In Cologne, a church is now a luxurious residence with a private pool.

The writer Emile Cioran once cast a sinister prophecy on Europe: “The French will not wake up until Notre Dame becomes a mosque.” Five years ago, a French historian, Dominique Venner, shot himself on the altar of Notre Dame, Paris’s most famous Cathedral. This suicide, which the mainstream media dismissed as the gesture of a Catholic crank, was a terrible warning to Europe. But no one was paying attention.

Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.

Europe: “The Era of Liberal Babble” by Judith Bergman

  • Uninhibited by the obvious fear of their citizens, the EU nevertheless carries on its immigration policies.Ironically, Western political elites consider this clearly widespread sentiment against Muslim immigration “racist” and “Islamophobic” and consequently disregard it — thereby empowering anti-immigration political parties.

  • “Islam has no place in Slovakia…. [the problem is not migrants coming in, but] rather in them changing the face of the country.” — Robert Fico, Prime Minister of Slovakia.

 

Europe, so many years after the Cold War, is ideologically divided into a new East and a West. This time, the schism is over multiculturalism. What Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has termed “liberal babble” continues to govern Western Europe’s response to the challenges that migration and Islamic terrorism have brought, especially to personal security.

The Western European establishment considers arming oneself against terrorists, rapists and other ill-wishers outlandish, even in the face of the inability of Europe’s security establishments to prevent mass terrorist atrocities, such as those that took place in Paris at the Bataclan Theater or the July14 truck-ramming in Nice.

The European Union’s reaction to terror has been to make Europe’s already restrictive gun laws even more restrictive. The problem is that this restrictiveness contradicts the EU’s own reports: these show that homicides committed in Europe are mainly committed with illegal firearms.

In Eastern Europe, on the other hand, it is still normal to want to defend yourself. Last summer, Czech President Milos Zeman even encouraged citizens to arm themselves against Islamic terrorism. “I really think that citizens should arm themselves against terrorists. And I honestly admit that I changed my mind, because previously I was against [citizens] having too many weapons. After these attacks, I don’t think so”.

Since the president’s remarks, the Czech Interior Minister, Milan Chovanec, has proposed extending the use of arms in the event of a terrorist attack. He explained that despite strict security measures, it is not always possible for the police to guarantee a fast and effective intervention. Fast action from a member of the public could prevent the loss of many lives.

Such reasoning, often seen as laughable in Western Europe, reflects an understanding of the fear that has become a recurring theme on the continent. In Germany, a recent poll showed that two out of three Germans are afraid of becoming the victim of a terrorist attack and 10% perceive an “acute threat” to their safety. Among women, the figures were even higher. 74% responded that they sometimes feel unsafe in crowded places, and 9% said they felt permanently threatened and scared.

Western European leaders, on the other hand, pretend not to understand this fear. In 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was asked how Europe could be protected against Islamization. Merkel, who does not move without her own personal security team consisting of 15-20 armed bodyguards around her, working in shifts, answered: “Fear is not a good adviser. It is better that we should have the courage once again to deal more strongly with our own Christian roots.” In December, she told members of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who were asking how to reassure the public about integrating migrants, “This could also broaden your horizons.” (This is the same Merkel, who in 2010 said that multiculturalism had “utterly failed”).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (center) was asked how Europe could be protected against Islamization. Merkel, who has a personal security team of 15-20 armed bodyguards around her, working in shifts, answered: “Fear is not a good adviser.” (Image source: Paralax video screenshot)

As Western Europeans are discovering, however, that the state is increasingly unable to protect them, they have begun acting on their fears:

In France, a survey showed an increase of almost 40% in gun license requests since 2011. “Before the beginning of 2015, it was only a vague trend. Since the ‘Charlie Hebdo‘, Bataclan and Nice attacks, [gun license requests] have become a growing phenomenon”, wrote Le Nouvel Observateur.

In Belgium, requests for gun license applications soared in one major province, Liège, doubling in just five years. “The explanation may lie in the current security context, which generates feelings of insecurity among the population”, said officials from Liège’s Arms Service, the state body in charge of granting gun licenses in the province.

In the wake of mass sexual attacks by migrants in Cologne, major German cities all reported an increase of requests for weapons permits. Cologne police estimated that they received at least 304 applications within just two weeks of the mass sexual assaults. In 2015, the city’s police force saw only 408 applications total over the entire year.

Switzerland has also seen a drastic rise in gun permit applications, with all 12 cantons reporting an increase from 2015. Interim 2016 figures show a further escalation. “There’s no official explanation for the rise, but in general we see a connection to Europe’s terrorist attacks,” said Hanspeter Kruesi, a police spokesman in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen.

Gun sellers in Austria also said that interest in weapons grew after a large number of refugees arrived. “Fear is very much a driving force,” said Robert Siegert, a gun maker and the weapons trade spokesman at the Austrian Chamber of Commerce.

Uninhibited by the obvious alarm of their citizens, the EU nevertheless carries on its immigration policies. “I believe Europeans should understand that we need migration for our economies and for our welfare systems, with the current demographic trend we have to be sustainable,” said Federica Mogherini, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. She added that the continent “does not and will not close its doors” to migrants.

Mogherini is probably not interested in a recent Chatham House study, in which an average of 55% of the people across the 10 European countries surveyed wanted to stop all future immigration from mainly Muslim countries. Only two of the countries surveyed were from Eastern Europe. A ban was supported by 71% of people in Poland, 65% in Austria, 53% in Germany and 51% in Italy. In the UK, 47% supported a ban.

Ironically, Western political elites consider this clearly widespread sentiment against Muslim immigration “racist” and “Islamophobic” and consequently disregard it — thereby empowering anti-immigration political parties.

Several countries in Eastern Europe, such as Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, have refused to take in more migrants, and several Balkan countries have completely closed their borders.

Czech President Milos Zeman has openly stated, “The experience of Western European countries which have ghettos and excluded localities shows that the integration of the Muslim community is practically impossible”.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has dismissed multiculturalism as a “fiction”. He has also refused to accept EU-agreed quotas on relocating migrants saying, “It may look strange but sorry … Islam has no place in Slovakia.” He added that the problem is not migrants coming in but “rather in them changing the face of the country.”

Western Europe has predictably responded with accusations of “Islamophobia” and “fanning hatred towards minorities and refugees”. One EU state, Luxembourg, even suggested expelling Hungary from the EU for its refusal to toe the EU line and, according to Luxembourg, for treating asylum seekers, “worse than wild animals”. Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, in turn, harbors little respect for the way that his Western European colleagues have shaped politics: “We are experiencing now the end of an era: a conceptual-ideological era,” Orbán told supporters in 2015, “Putting pretension aside, we can simply call this the era of liberal babble. This era is now at an end.”

Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.

Europe’s Planned Migrant Revolution by Yves Mamou

  • Between 2005 to 2014, Germany welcomed more than 6,000,000 people.Two essential questions about integration must be put on the table: 1) What do we ask of newcomers? And 2) What do we do to those who do not accept our conditions? In Europe, these two questions of integration were never asked of anyone.

  • In the new migrant order, the host population is invited to make room for the newcomer and bear the burden not of what is an “integration,” but the acceptance of a coerced coexistence.
  • “No privileges are granted to the Europeans or to their heritage. All cultures have the same citizenship. There is no recognition of a substantial European culture that it might be useful to preserve.” — Michèle Tribalat, sociologist and demographer.
  • “We need people that we welcome to love France.” — French Archbishop Pontier, Le Monde, October 2016.
  • When “good feelings” did not work, however, the authorities have often criminalized and prosecuted anti-immigration critics. The Dutch politician Geert Wilders is currently on trial for trying to defend his country from Moroccan immigrants whose skyrocketing crime wave has been transforming the Netherlands.

Everyone now knows — even German Chancellor Angela Merkel — that she committed a political mistake in opening the doors of her country to more than a million migrants from the the Middle East, Africa and Asia. It was, politically, a triple mistake:

  • Merkel may have thought that humanitarian motives (the war in Syria and Iraq, the refugee problem) could help Germany openly pursue a migration policy that was initially launched and conducted in the shadows.
  • Merkel mainly helped to accelerate the defense mechanisms against the transformation of German society and culture into a “multicultural” space — the “multi” being a segregated, Islamic way of life. The anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) is now a big player on the German political scene.
  • Merkel raised anxiety all over Europe about the migrant problem. She might even have encouraged the United Kingdom to Brexit and pushed central European countries such as Hungary to the point of seceding from the European Union.

For many years, Germany was the country in Europe most open to immigration. According to Eurostat, the official data body of the European Union, between 2005 to 2014, Germany welcomed more than 6 million people. [1]

Not all six million people came from Middle East. The vast majority of them, however, were not from Europe. Clandestine immigration is not, of course, included in these figures.

Other countries also participated in a migrant race. In the same time frame, 2005-2014, three million people immigrated to France, or around 300,000 people a year. In Spain, the process was more chaotic: more than 700,000 migrants in 2005; 840,000 in 2006; almost a million in 2007 and then a slow decrease to 300,000 a year up to 2014.

The “refugee crisis,” in fact, helped to make apparent what was latent: that behind humanitarian reasons, a huge official immigration policy in Europe was proceeding apace. For economic reasons, Europe had openly decided years ago to encourage a new population to enter, supposedly to compensate for the dramatic projected shrinking of Europe’s native population.

Thousands of migrants cross illegally into Slovenia on foot, in this screenshot from YouTube video filmed in October 2015.

According to population projections made by Eurostat in 2013, without migrants, Europe’s population would decline from 507.3 million in 2015 to 399.2 million by 2080. In roughly 65 years, a hundred million people (20%) would disappear. Country by country, the figures seemed even were more terrifying. By 2080, in Germany, 80 million people today would become 50 million. In Spain, 46.4 million people would become 30 million. In Italy, 60 million would decline to 39 million.

Some countries would be more stable: by 2080, France, with 66 million in 2015 would grow to 68.7 million, and England, with 67 million in 2015, would shrink only to approximately 65 million.

Is migration in itself a “bad” thing? Of course not. Migration from low-income countries to higher-income countries is almost a law of nature. As long as the number of births and deaths remains larger than the number of migrants, the result is considered beneficial. But when migration becomes the major contributor to population growth, the situation changes and what should be a simple evolution becomes a revolution.

It is a triple revolution:

  1. Because the number of migrants is huge. The 2015 United Nations World Population Prospects report states: “Between 2015 and 2050, total births in the group of high-income countries are projected to exceed deaths by 20 million, while the net gain in migrants is projected to be 91 million. Thus, in the medium variant, net migration is projected to account for 82 per cent of population growth in the high-income countries.”
  2. Because of the culture of the migrants. Most of them belong to a Muslim and Arabic (or Turkish) culture, which was in an old and historical conflict with the (still?) dominant Christian culture of Europe. And mainly, because this Muslim migration process happens at a historic moment of a radicalization of the world’s Muslim population.
  3. Because each European state is in position of weakness. In the process of building the European Union, national states stopped considering themselves as the indispensable integrator tool of different regional cultures inside a national frame. On the contrary, to prevent the return of large-scale chauvinistic wars such as World War I and World War II, all European nation-states engaged in the EU process and decided to program their own disappearance by transferring more and more power to a bureaucratic, unelected and untransparent executive Commission in Brussels. Not surprisingly, alongside Islamist troubles in all European countries, weak European states have now to cope with the strong resurgence of secessionist and regionalist movements, such as Corsica in France, Catalonia in Spain, and Scotland and Wales in United Kingdom.

Why did France, Germany and many other countries of the European Union opt for massive immigration, without saying it and without letting voters debate it? Perhaps because they thought a new population of taxpayers could help save their healthcare and retirement systems. To avoid the bankruptcy of social security and the social troubles of “dissatisfied retirees,” the EU took the risk of transforming more or less homogenous nation-states into multicultural societies.

Politicians and economists seem blind to multicultural conflicts. They seem not even to suspect the importance of identity questions and religious topics. These questions belong to nations and since WW II, “the nation” is considered “bad.” In addition, politicians and economists appear to think any cultural and religious problem is a secondary question. Despite the growing threat of Islamist terrorism (internal and imported from the Middle East), for example, they seem to persist in thinking that any violent domestic conflict can be dissolved in a “full-employment” society. Most of them seem to believe in U.S. President Barack Obama’s imaginary jobs-for-jihadists solution to terrorism.

To avoid cultural conflicts (Muslim migrants vs non-Muslim natives) Germany could, of course, have imported people from the countries of Europe where there were no jobs: France, Spain, Italy. But this “white” workforce is considered “expensive” by big companies (construction, care-givers and all services…) who need cheap imported workers no matter the area (Middle East, Turkey, Northern Africa) they are coming from. Internal migration inside the EU would not have solved either the main problem of a projected shrinking European population as a whole. Added to that, in a world where competition is transferred partially from nations to global regions, the might of European countries might be thought to lie in their population numbers.

Can Europe borrow a Muslim population from Turkey, Northern Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, and become a European world power, based on a population that is multicultural and multi-religious?

In theory, one can do that. But to succeed and avoid being crossed, day after day, by racial and religious tensions, two essential questions about integration must be put on the table: 1) What do we ask of newcomers? And 2) What do we do to those who do not accept our conditions?

In other words, integration is an asymmetrical process where the newcomer is expected to produce the effort to adapt.

Of course, if the flow of migrants is big, the host society will change, but that is evolution; the sense of cultural and historical continuity will not be demanded into a decline.

In Europe, these two questions of integration were never asked of anyone. According to Michèle Tribalat, sociologist and demographer:

“EU countries agreed at the Council of 19 November 2004, on eleven common basic principles to which to commit. When it is question of integration they disclaim any asymmetry between the host society and newcomers. No privileges are granted to the Europeans or to their heritage. All cultures have the same citizenship. There is no recognition of a substantial European culture that it might be useful to preserve. The social bond is designed as a horizontal one, between the people in the game. Its vertical dimension in reference to history and to the past seems to be superfluous. They speak about values, but these values appear to be negotiable”.

In France, in Germany, and in Sweden, it became rapidly clear that growing flow of a radicalized Muslim population began to change the rules of the integration game. The migrants did not have to “adapt” and are free to reproduce their religious and cultural habits. By contrast, the local “natives” were ordered not to resist “environmental” changes produced by immigration. When they tried to resist anyway, a political and media machine began to criminalize their “racist” behavior and supposed intolerance.

In the new migrant order, the host population is expected to make room for the newcomer and bear the burden of not what is “integration”, but the acceptance of a coerced coexistence.

France’s Archbishop Pontier declared to Le Monde in October 2016:

“We need people that we welcome to love France. If we always offer a negative view, they cannot love the country. However, if we see them as people who bring us something new, we get to grow together”.

When “good feelings” did not work, however, the authorities have often criminalized and prosecuted anti-immigration critics. The Dutch politician Geert Wilders is currently on trial for trying to defend his country from Moroccan immigrants whose skyrocketing crime wave has been transforming the Netherlands.

He may go to jail for as long as a year and could be fined a maximum of ‎€7,400 ($7,000 USD).

In France, the Paris prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation for an “apologia of terrorism” against the anti-immigration writer Eric Zemmour. In an interview with the magazine Causeur, published October 6, Zemmour said that “Muslims must choose” between France and Islam. He added that he had “respect for jihadists willing to die for what they believe.” The Paris prosecutor chose to take this sentence out of context to prosecute him.

Will this double movement — the injunction to love Islam plus criminalizing anti-Islam critics — be enough to kill off any opposition to the EU’s migration policy, and serve to Islamize the continent?

Europe’s Out-of-Control Censorship by Judith Bergman

  • If Facebook insists on the rules of censorship, it should at the very least administer those rules in a fair way. Facebook, however, does not even pretend that it administers its censorship in any way that approximates fairness.

  • Posts critical of Chancellor Merkel’s migrant policies, for example, can be categorized as “Islamophobia”, and are often found to violate “Community Standards”, while incitement to actual violence and the murder of Jews and Israelis by Palestinian Arabs is generally considered as conforming to Facebook’s “Community Standards”.
  • Notwithstanding the lawsuits, Facebook’s bias is so strong that it recently restored Palestinian Arab terrorist group Fatah’s Facebook page, which incites hatred and violence against Jews — despite having shut it down only three days earlier. In 2016 alone, this page had a minimum of 130 posts glorifying terror and murder of Jews.

Germany has formally announced its draconian push towards censorship of social media. On March 14, Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas announced the plan to formalize into law the “code of conduct”, which Germany pressed upon Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in late 2015, and which included a pledge to delete “hate speech” from their websites within 24 hours.

“This [draft law] sets out binding standards for the way operators of social networks deal with complaints and obliges them to delete criminal content,” Justice Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement announcing the planned legislation.

“Criminal” content? Statements that are deemed illegal under German law are now being conflated with statements that are merely deemed, subjectively and on the basis of entirely random complaints from social media users — who are free to abuse the code of conduct to their heart’s content — to be “hate speech”. “Hate speech” has included critiques of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s migration policies. To be in disagreement with the government’s policies is now potentially “criminal”. Social media companies, such as Facebook, are supposed to be the German government’s informers and enforcers — qualified by whom and in what way? — working at the speed of light to comply with the 24-hour rule. Rule of law, clearly, as in North Korea, Iran, Russia or any banana-republic, has no place in this system.

Maas is not pleased with the efforts of the social media companies. They do not, supposedly, delete enough reported content, nor do they delete it fast enough, according to a survey by the Justice Ministry’s youth protection agency. It found that YouTube was able to remove around 90% of “illegal” postings within a week, while Facebook deleted or blocked 39% of content and Twitter only 1%. The German minister, it seems, wants more efficiency.

“We need to increase the pressure on social networks… There is just as little room for criminal propaganda and slander [on social media] as on the streets,” said Maas. “For this we need legal regulations.” He has now presented these legal regulations in the form of a draft bill, which provides for complaints, reporting and fines.

There also appears to be no differentiation made between primary-source hate speech, as in many religious tenets, and secondary-source hate speech, reporting on the former.

According to the draft, social media platforms with more than two million users would be obliged to delete or block any criminal offenses, such as libel, slander, defamation or incitement, within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint. The networks receive seven days for more complicated cases. Germany could fine a social media company up to 50 million euros for failing to comply with the law; it could fine a company’s chief representative in Germany up to 5 million euros.

It does not stop there. Germany does not want these measures to be limited to its own jurisdiction. It wants to share them with the rest of Europe: “In the end, we also need European solutions for European-wide companies,” said Maas. The European Union already has a similar code of conduct in place, so that should not be very hard to accomplish.

Facebook, for its part, has announced that by the end of 2017, the number of employees in complaints-management in Berlin will be increased to more than 700. A spokeswoman said that Facebook had clear rules against hate speech and works “hard” on removing “criminal content”.

If Facebook insists on operating under rules of censorship, it should at the very least aim to administer those rules in a fair manner. Facebook, however, does not even pretend that it administers its censorship in any way that approximates fairness. Instead, Facebook’s practice of its so-called “Community Standards” — the standards to which Facebook refers when deleting or allowing content on its platform in response to user complaints — shows evidence of entrenched bias. Posts critical of Merkel’s migrant policies, for example, can get categorized as “Islamophobia”, and are often found to violate “Community Standards”, while incitement to actual violence and the murder of Jews and Israelis by Palestinian Arabs is generally considered as conforming to Facebook’s “Community Standards”.

Facebook’s bias, in fact, became so pronounced that in October 2015, Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center filed an unprecedented lawsuit against Facebook on behalf of some 20,000 Israelis, to stop allowing Palestinian Arab terrorists to use the social network to incite violent attacks against Jews. The complaint sought an injunction against Facebook that required it to monitor incitement and to respond immediately to complaints about content that incites people to violence. Shurat Hadin wrote at the time:

“…Facebook is much more than a neutral internet platform or a mere ‘publisher’ of speech because its algorithms connect the terrorists to the inciters. Facebook actively assists the inciters to find people who are interested in acting on their hateful messages by offering friend, group and event suggestions … Additionally, Facebook often refuses to take down the inciting pages, claiming that they do not violate its ‘community standards’. Calling on people to commit crimes is not constitutionally protected speech and endangers the lives of Jews and Israelis”.

In 2016, Shurat Hadin filed a separate $1 billion lawsuit on behalf of five victims of Hamas terrorism and their families. They are seeking damages against Facebook under the U.S. Antiterrorism Act, for Facebook’s having provided material support and resources to Hamas in the form of Facebook services, which Hamas then used to carry out their terrorist activities. The US has officially designated Hamas a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” which means that it is a criminal offense to provide material support to such an organization.

Notwithstanding the lawsuits, Facebook’s bias is so strong that it recently restored Palestinian Arab terrorist group Fatah’s Facebook page, which incites hatred and violence against Jews — despite having shut it down only three days earlier. In 2016 alone, this page had a minimum of 130 posts glorifying terror and the murder of Jews.

It is only a small step from imposing censorship on social media companies to asking the same of email providers, or ordering postal authorities to screen letters, magazines and brochures in the event that citizens spread supposed “xenophobia” and “fake news”. There is ample precedent for such a course of action on the continent: During the Cold War, people living behind the Iron Curtain had their private letters opened by the communist authorities; those passages deemed to be out of line with the communist orthodoxy, were simply blacked out.

Who would have thought that more than a quarter of a century after the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), Western Europe would be reinventing itself in the image of the Soviet Union?

Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.

Europe’s New Media Darlings: Terrorists by Giulio Meotti

  • It is such a shame and an irony that terrorists who have killed and ordered the killing of unarmed and innocent Jews, are now being celebrated as Europe’s apostles of peace.

  • Can you imagine Italian or French mayors and members of Parliament naming a street after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who murdered at least 84 people in Nice on July 14? Or honoring the brothers Salah and Brahim Abdesalem for their attack at the Bataclan Theater in Paris on November 13, 2015, in which 89 people were murdered?

What would have happened if the city council of Jerusalem had conferred the honorary citizenship on Italy’s Mafia leader, Totò Riina, calling him a “political prisoner”? What would have happened if the city council of Tel Aviv had named a street after Giovanni Brusca, the Mafia butcher who kidnapped and tortured the 11-year-old son of another mafioso who had betrayed him, and then dissolved the boy’s body in acid? The Italian government would have vehemently protested. With Palestinian terrorists, however, there is another standard, as if in the eyes of many of Italy’s city councils, terror against Israeli Jews is actually justified.

In the pro-Palestinian credentials of the mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, the only item missing was giving honorary citizenship to a Palestinian terrorist. Bilal Kayed is anything but a “man of peace.” He is a dangerous Palestinian terrorist who spent 14 years in Israeli prisons for two shooting attacks, and for planning and attempting the (unsuccessful) kidnapping of a soldier. Kayed is now a new honorary citizen of Naples.

“[It is] a decision that harms the image of Naples”, protested the newly elected president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Noemi Di Segni. Meanwhile, Naples city council has refused to grant honorary citizenship to the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem.

It is not the first time that Mayor De Magistris embraces anti-Israel militancy. The city of Naples provided a municipal room to show a documentary called, “Israel, The Cancer,” which shamefully compares Israeli soldiers to Nazis. Israel’s Ambassador to Italy, Naor Gilon, protested against the screening and noted that “the film’s title, ‘Israel, The Cancer’, is reminiscent of dark eras in the Italian and European history, in which Jews were defined as a disease.”

De Magistris also received reciprocal “Palestinian citizenship” from the hands of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the mayor of Naples returned the favor by granting honorary citizenship to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. De Magistris also gave his support to the “Freedom Flotilla,” a convoy of ships that tried to bring weapons to the Hamas regime in Gaza. Eleonora De Majo, a candidate on De Magistris’ political list, also called the Israelis “pigs.”

De Magistris is not the only Italian mayor who apparently prizes Palestinian terrorism. Palermo’s mayor, Leoluca Orlando, awarded honorary citizenship to Marwan Barghouti, the Palestinian terrorist who orchestrated attacks that killed several people and who is currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison.

Many of Europe’s streets are plastered with the names of the Palestinian terrorists. The French town of Valenton named a street for Marwan Barghouti; and a few days after a priest was slaughtered this summer in France, a group of French cities planned to honor Barghouti. Towns such as Pierrefitte-sur-Seine have already awarded him honorary citizenship, and a photograph of the Palestinian terror leader was hung on the front of its city hall.

Barghouti, who masterminded the 2002 attack at the Seafood Market in Tel Aviv and a massacre in Hadera which killed six Israelis, is a man Europe’s television stations love to show handcuffed with his arms raised. He is Europe’s idol, a hero, an icon. The Guardian even published an op-ed piece by Barghouti, in which he expresses support for the “Third Intifada” of stabbing- and shooting-attacks and car-rammings.

The mayor of Palermo, Italy, Leoluca Orlando (left), awarded honorary citizenship to Marwan Barghouti (right), the Palestinian terrorist who orchestrated attacks that killed several people and who is currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison.

The Western press loves Barghouti and even tries to compare him to Nelson Mandela, in articles such as “The Question of Barghouti: Is He a Mandela or an Arafat?” (Time); “A Mideast Mandela” (Newsweek) and “A Nelson Mandela for the Palestinians” (New York Times).

Twenty French cities, such as Vitry-sur-Seine, La Verrière and Montataire, have granted honorary citizenship to this terrorist and plastered their streets with his disgraceful name. The Jeu de Paume National Gallery in Paris hosted an exhibition calling Palestinian suicide bombers “martyrs.” The exhibit “Death”, by photographer Ahlam Shibli, featured Palestinian suicide bombers with captions that promote the jihadist agenda of glorifying their deaths.

Bezons, an urban conglomerate just 10 kilometers from Paris, was also the first French town officially to include among its honorary citizenship the Palestinian terrorist, Majdi Rimawi, who planned and carried out the assassination of Israel’s Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi in 2001. Rimawi, who sits in an Israeli prison, was immortalized in a plaque prepared by the city of Bezons in 2013, which labels the terrorist as a “political prisoner.”

The mayor of Bezons, Dominique Lesparre, held a public speech in which he called Rimawi a “victim.” In the official document issued by Bezons City Hall, entitled “Prisonnier et citoyen d’honneur,” the fact that Rimawi is a murderer was not even mentioned.

It is such a shame and an irony that terrorists who have killed and ordered the killing of unarmed and innocent Jews, are now being celebrated as Europe’s apostles of peace. They are now even the new media darlings.

Can you imagine Italian or French mayors and members of Parliament naming a street after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who murdered at least 84 people in Nice on July 14? Or honoring the brothers Salah and Brahim Abdesalem for their attack at the Bataclan Theater in Paris on November 13, 2015, in which 89 people were murdered? Or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was linked to nearly every al-Qaeda attack between 1993 and 2003?

Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.

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