Free speech is under attack in Europe. Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is being charged under Austrian law with "hate speech" for remarks she made to a Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) meeting about organised political Islam in Europe. What did Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff say that was so incendiary?
Europe News presented her interview with the Austrian magazine "Profil". I present a part of her thought provoking comments below. It is well worth your while to read the entire interview, to see not an excerpt of her ideas but the rounded presentation she gave in a wide ranging interview.
"There are powerful groups who are working towards the Islamization of Europe. That is a fact. What can we gain from closing our eyes and ignoring this? Even Libyan leader Muammar Ghadafi says: “There are signs that Allah will grant victory to Islam in Europe without swords, without guns, without conquest. We don't need terrorists, we don't need homicide bombers. The 50+ million Muslims [in Europe] will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.” A head of state confirms what our politicians deny. What else has to happen until we finally get it?
There are people who see the growth of Islam in Europe as an opportunity for a completely re-engineered pluralistic society.
The vision of a pluralistic society does not withstand a reality check. Show me one example where this has been a success. Wherever Muslims have been given the opportunity for self-organization they have established parallel societies. See Berlin-Kreuzberg, see Lyon. See also Great Britain, where parts of shariah have been implemented.
Do you really think that Austrian culture is endangered?
I see signs of an erosion of our way of life. In large cities massive changes are evident in the streets. There are discussions about a ban on teaching the Turkish sieges of Vienna; St. Nicholas is banned from visiting children in [public] kindergartens.
And you want to change that.
Yes, very much. But why is that so bad? In Bhutan, the king is applauded because he allows only a certain number of foreigners into the country. He prescribes a certain dress code and mandatory cultural events. Bhutan is a small country that wants to retain its cultural identity in a globalized world. Austria is also a small country with similar challenges. Why is the one country commended and the other berated?"
There are a number of moral issues that Ms Sabaditsch-Wolff tackles head on. The primary question is whether individuals in a society who disapprove of its core values should be permitted to vote them out of existence. This is not a new question. Various countries had bans on political parties that opposed the constitution. Italy banned its own Fascist Party at the end of World War Two. Germany banned its own Communist Party (KPD) Germany also had occupations from which communists were banned (Berufsverbot) The occupations ranged from that of a teacher to train conductors. The majority of the people in those countries did not want to give away their freedoms to a group with a totalitarian agenda. Is this a restriction of collective freedom? Yes it is. But it is to preserve a way of life.
Islam does not according to many interpretations confine its domain to private life. It is a system of belief, a personal way of life and a state structure, according to many. There are Muslims in Europe who would in fact like an Islamic state not only in Europe but all over the world. This has ramifications for the status of women, for the extent of personal freedom and for the permitted range of free speech. It is not only non Muslims who are affected. There are Sunni Muslims who view Shiites as heretics and vice versa. There are Sunni and Shia who view others within their respective theological framework as apostates. For significant numbers of Muslims, this imposes the duty on the believer of killing the infidel. There are also millions of Muslims who have a concept of free speech as we know it, but separating the two attitudes towards human rights as understood in the West is not easy. Militant Islam is very active.
It is not all Muslims who threaten European freedom. It is not even a majority. But those who wish to use democratic freedoms to end them should be separated from the benign majority.
What is far more insidious a threat is that emanating from the West itself. The expressive straitjacket of "political correctness" turns bluntness, insensitivity and plain frankness into a "hate crime" if it so much as offends a protected minority. There is nothing wrong with protecting the right to look different, talk differently or worship differently. But when members of "protected minorities" engage in "honour killings", burning synagogues or raping women who as "slutty infidels" are deemed fair game, then the issues should be dealt with forthrightly.
The European left is agonising over the growth of right wing parties, some of whom have members with a Nazi past. Britain's National Front, Austria's Freedom Party and Geert Wilders of the Netherland's own Freedom Party are growing because they are shouting truths that the left does not even want whispered. A measure of the European right's popularity is the fact that in Europe many Jews who fear Muslim violence are taking a new look at European right wing parties. The New York Times reported as follows on this noteworthy development.
A CURIOUS thing is happening in Belgium these days: a small but vocal number of Jews are supporting a far-right party whose founders were Nazi collaborators. The xenophobic party, Vlaams Belang, plays on fears of Arab immigrants and, unlike the prewar parties from which it is descended, courts Jewish votes. Perhaps 5 percent of the Jews in Antwerp gave it their votes in the last election.
The Belgian example is extreme, but it represents the sharpest edge of a much broader political shift by European Jews -- away from the left, particularly the far left, and toward the center and right, in the face of rising displays of anti-Semitism and the European left's embrace of the Palestinian cause.
While the right remains strange political territory to many Jews, its leaders have reached out for Jewish support. The New York Times continues as follows.
"Even some elements of Europe's far right have reached out to Jews: Gianfranco Fini, Italy's foreign minister and a former admirer of Mussolini, has become a champion of Israel since apologizing to Jews three years ago for Italy's wartime race laws and deportations. Filip Dewinter, head of Belgium's Vlaams Belang, meets regularly with Jewish leaders and has been photographed with prominent rabbis. Denmark's far-right People's Party had an Israeli theme at a recent convention and served wine from the Golan Heights.
''We have a common enemy, a common struggle,'' said Mr. Dewinter. He called Israel ''the forward post of the free West fighting radical Islam'' and said Jewish culture is ''one of the main cultures of European civilization, but we can't say the same of Islam.''
What is disturbing in the quarters of Europe's left is its resorting to name calling to stifle legitimate criticism. Minimising Muslim violence against women and anti Jewish acts of violence in the name of Islam as well as organised attempts to bring Shaaria to Europe will drive a frustrated electorate to parties that will listen to them.
Then there is the question of polygamy. Anyone who can afford a plane ticket to a country in which polygamy is allowed can according to British law go to such a country, take a second wife and return legally wed to Britain. The Telegraph reports as follows.
"Husbands with multiple wives have been given the go-ahead to claim extra welfare benefits following a year-long Government review, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.
The outcome will chiefly benefit Muslim men with more than one wife, as is permitted under Islamic law. Ministers estimate that up to a thousand polygamous partnerships exist in Britain, although they admit there is no exact record.
The decision has been condemned by the Tories, who accused the Government of offering preferential treatment to a particular group, and of setting a precedent that would lead to demands for further changes in British law.
New guidelines on income support from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) state: "Where there is a valid polygamous marriage the claimant and one spouse will be paid the couple rate ... The amount payable for each additional spouse is presently £33.65."
Income support for all of the wives may be paid directly into the husband's bank account, if the family so choose. Under the deal agreed by ministers, a husband with multiple wives may also be eligible for additional housing benefit and council tax benefit to reflect the larger property needed for his family."
How common is polygamy in Europe? According to the Deutsche Welle web site, "Between 150,000 and 400,000 people live in polygamous households in France, in which a man is married to more than one woman."
Europeans do not permit themselves polygamous relationships. There is nothing wrong with tough enforcement of anti polygamy laws for political reasons, to maintain Europe's demographic balance.
Europe's political right is killing free speech in the name of "diversity" and "tolerance". "Hate speech" laws are being used to stifle legitimate debate over Europe's future. Name calling and slander is taking the place of spirited ideological debate. Radical Islam and the politically correct left are both attacking Europe's freedoms in the name of "diversity" and " tolerance."
Americans should be concerned about developments in Europe. President Obama campaigned very visibly in Europe. His fondness for the approach of Europe's social democratic parties is well known. The chilly wind that blows against free speech in Europe can certainly reach America's shores.
The legal actions against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff are a threat to all Europeans. Her ideas deserve a fair hearing. Even those who dismiss her beliefs have no right to ban them. Most of Western Europe associates the denial of human rights with the Nazis and the fascists of the 30's and 40's. Today's threat to free speech comes from the left. The sooner we face this, the better off we will be. Sphere: Related Content