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Jewish Journal

Malibu conference on Europe sees threats in ‘multiculturalism’

by Tom Tugend

June 21, 2007 | 8:00 pm

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

It was a beautiful Sunday in Malibu, but the 300 people gathered at a Pepperdine University hilltop building had little time to appreciate the sparkling Pacific Ocean.

The scholars, journalists and concerned citizens were there for a conference whose title could hardly be weightier or more ominous: "The Collapse of Europe, the Rise of Islam, and the Consequences for the United States."

"We did not come here to declare the demise of Europe, whose strength is vital to the future of Western civilization," said Avi Davis, coordinator of the June 10-11 meeting and executive director of the recently founded American Freedom Alliance, which seeks to promote freedom of conscience among people of faith.

However, Davis and most of the speakers clearly meant "to raise a red flag that in its present state, Europe is too exhausted, too uncertain of its future and too unwilling to defend its basic values against Islamic insurgency."

Describing the conference as the most concerted intellectual effort to address this perceived danger, Davis said that the venue on the U.S. West Coast indicated that "Europeans either think there is no problem or are fearful of addressing it."

Instead, impressive numbers of European writers and thinkers from Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria, who seek to "awaken" their countrymen, traveled to Malibu to join their like-minded American colleagues.

At just one of the 15 sessions, titled "Eurabia: Is Muslim Domination of Europe Inevitable?" the panelists included Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a native of Somalia, former Dutch Parliament member and fervent critic of Islam's treatment of women; Henryk Broder, an influential German Jewish journalist and author of "Hurray -- We Surrender," and Dutch filmmaker Leon de Winter.

They were joined by Americans Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, and Gregory M. Davis, documentary film producer and author of "Religion of Peace?"

Among other well-known speakers at the conference were talk show hosts Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager, columnist Mark Steyn and professor James Q. Wilson of Harvard, UCLA and Pepperdine University.

While the "Eurabia" panelists did not give up Europe for lost, their indictments of the Continent's alleged spinelessness and inaction in the face of escalating Islamic immigration, birthrate and militancy pointed to grave dangers ahead.

According to statistics presented in the conference source book, there are now 6 million Muslims in France, 3 million in Germany and 1 million in both Spain and Holland.

A main culprit in the eyes of most speakers is "multiculturalism" taken to an extreme, in which the self-labeled "victim" is always right, and any criticism of Islamic beliefs or demands is politically incorrect.

"It is a fallacy of multiculturalism that all cultures are equally valuable and must be preserved," Hirsi Ali declared.

"Whether Muslims will take over Europe will depend on how far we let them go," Broder observed. "But most [Europeans] don't know what to do. They prefer capitulation to action."

Such inertia is due to Europe's loss of confidence in itself, various speakers agreed, and in a later session, Claire Berlinski, author of "Menace in Europe," blamed two main factors. One reason is the catastrophic bloodletting of the two world wars; a second is "the death of Christianity," Berlinski said.

"Christianity gave a framework to European life, and nothing has replaced it," she said. "Today, less than 10 percent of Europeans are Christian believers and more British people know about Britney Spears than Jesus Christ."

A recurrent analogy at the meeting was between European appeasement of Nazism in the 1930s and the current lack of resolve to confront radical Islam.

Judging from the question-and-answer exchanges, audience members warmly agreed with the speakers' viewpoints or found them not forceful enough, but organizer Davis rejected labeling participants as right wing or intolerant.

"We have been occasionally attacked as neocons or even racists, but that is simply not the case," he said. "This is an academic conference, and we have both liberal and conservative participants."

"Criticizing another religion is a sensitive issue, but we must break this taboo when our values and traditions are under assault," Davis emphasized. "We are absolutely committed to freedom of conscience and inquiry."

The American Freedom Alliance and its associated Council for Democracy and Tolerance plan a follow-up conference in November in Washington, D.C., focusing on the political and legal aspects of the European situation.

Next April or May, a further meeting is expected to be held in a European capital.

For more information, visit http://www.americanfreedomalliance.org


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