Sunday, November 25, 2007

Vlaams Belang: the last stop

Islam in Europe: Book Review: Undercover in Little Morocco
Esther, at the excellent Islam in Europe blog, reports on a book by journalist Hind Fraihi on the Moroccans of Belgium. The active support in this community for violent Jihad, killing Jews, and control of the local Muslims, especially women, according to Islamic fundamentalist dictates, may come as no surprise. In any case, it is a reminder of what the Flemings rightly fear in their midst. But what may surprise some readers is the support for the Vlaams Belang among the moderate Muslims:
She meets more people like Jamal, but she feels they're fighting a losing battle against the fundamentalists. She says that the moderate Muslims are walking a tightrope, between the Muslim fundamentalists and the right-wing (ie, nationalist) Flemish extremists. I had trouble understanding what she meant, but she later brings example of Muslims who vote for Vlaams Belang. I doubt most Muslims are in danger of becoming nationalist extremists, though. As Fraihi says, if they vote for Vlaams Belang, they do it out of protest, fear and disillusionment.

As one example she brings Fatima, a Moroccan immigrant in her 60s. She doesn't see herself as integrated and doesn't think she acts any different in Belgium then she did in Morocco. She came in 1968, got a hearty welcome, worked with Belgians and generally enjoyed herself. She followed up on her kids - went to PTA meetings and made sure she knew where they were going at all times. A friend of hers complains that her son lives off benefits, even though he could work. There is discrimination, she says, but the 2nd and 3rd generation don't want to work and just use it as an excuse. These youth are coddled by multicultural and integration organizations, all in the name of tolerance.

According to Fatima the problem-youth are problematic because they have become fully Flemish. She suffers from the extremist Muslims who demand that she wear a headscarf, soemthing that she'd never done in morocco. The moderate Muslims are the first victims of Muslim extremism, but nobody takes care of them. She supports the Vlaams Belang program: stopping immigration, reducing marriage immigration and cutting off the integration sectors. She sees Vlaams Belang as the only party which is upset at Muslim extremism, who wants to treat immigrants strictly but justly. Moderate Muslims are fed up and feel that they've been left on their own. Fatima wants to vote for a more moderate party, but only after the danger from Muslim extremism is dealt with.

She meets a worker at a youth center who tells her he blames the parents, imams and Belgian authorities for the Islamization of the youth. The parents blindly follow the Moroccan imams, who preach that almost everything is a crime, though many of them are former criminals themselves who have become 'born again' Muslims. Some have traveled to Afghanistan and are therefore barred from going back to Morocco, and yet the Belgian authorities don't seem to care. The parents were also not that religious when they were kids, but they expect much more from their children. Not only that, the parents had realized their dreams, but their children don't reach as far, don't get anywhere and are therefore easy prey for terrorist recruiters.

As she repeats in her interview, she feels the 'integration' sector has no reason to actually solve the problem, since that would take away their reason for being.
The Flemish nationalists may sometimes be heard preaching "white Europe", but it seems the implicit multiculturalist-Jihadi alliance is not a more appealing option for some Moroccan-Belgians. Perhaps for the infamous "moderate Muslim", the only hope lies in a Flemish nationalism that may one day acknowledge and support its Moroccan-Belgian allies. If the only hope for such people is the renewal of a responsible nationhood that makes real demands of youth, etc., maybe you have to start with the least bad option, the one closest to the mark (however problematic) and work from there. Or maybe it's just a great delusion. Maybe it's supporting those who will one day kick you out of the country, or worse. The thing is, no one can know in advance. It all depends on the exercise of human political freedom, and the learning process that only the interaction of strange bedfellows can bring. There is a point at which desperation and good faith meet, the point where all new religion starts...


Pastorius said...

As I understand it, Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front party in France has quite a bit of Muslim support as well.

truepeers said...

Yes, that's what I understand too. However, Le Pen, I think, is more keen to say nice things about Islam (whatever he really thinks), as well as give antisemitic gesture, than are the VB. The VB needs to make it clearer, I think (though maybe I'm just ignorant), on what terms it will integrate immigrants. The comments in this article suggest the "moderate Muslims" think some such terms exist, albeit strict terms. Do they really exist?