No longer content with preaching Sharia in the mosque, some British Muslims are now attempting to impose Islamic law on the streets. In videos posted on YouTube, self-described “Muslim patrols” have filmed themselves berating young women for being inappropriately dressed, seizing cans of beer from men, and burning posters advertising women’s underwear.
In another video, a mob pursues a man they suspect of being gay down a street, calling him a “fag” and telling him to get out of their “Muslim area.”
The videos are the latest example of how many Muslims — particularly young men — are not just failing to integrate into British society, but are becoming increasingly open in their hostility to it. It’s more evidence, if any more were needed, of the disastrous legacy of the policies of mass immigration and multiculturalism inflicted on Britain by Tony Blair’s “New Labour” government.
Only the worst excesses — such as the vigilante videos and the case last year of a Muslim gang that raped and abused vulnerable white girls — get widespread media attention. But national and local media regularly carry stories of less sensational yet alarming incidents. Even these are only the tip of the iceberg; the failure of multiculturalism is manifested in countless minor incidents in cities across Britain every day.
Typical of such incidents is what my partner experienced recently when walking through an ethnically mixed area of a city that is home to large numbers of Somali refugees. She had to run a gauntlet of hissing, spitting, and hostile comments from Somali men. The Somali women, meanwhile, turned their backs on her. Such insidious, low-level incidents go largely unremarked upon, but are the source of growing tensions.
The encounters captured in those videos show a new development. In the past, the worst excesses of Muslim extremism have been perpetrated in the shadows. The victims were mostly either young girls from poor white communities — as in the “grooming” incident — or other Muslims who are the victims of abuses ranging from being denied an education to female genital mutilation, forced marriage, and “honor” attacks which in some cases result in murder. But the people being harassed and threatened in the videos are random passers-by. Many of them will be young, liberal-minded urban dwellers who fancy themselves as sophisticated and tolerant types and who desire living in culturally mixed communities.
Increasingly, Islamists are coming into conflict with the very people who have been most eager to embrace liberal thinking on immigration, political correctness, and “diversity.” Multiculturalism has been a warmly satisfying and largely consequence-free indulgence for white liberals. It allowed them to flaunt their moral superiority over “racist” conservatives (an advisor to the Blair government has admitted that Labour’s immigration policy was a political project intended to “rub the Right’s nose in diversity”). It also served to alleviate their guilt over past actual sins, such as the slave trade, and to present imagined ones, such as “globalization.”
Labour’s lax attitude to immigration had distinct material benefits for the liberal elites. It ensured plentiful supply of cheap nannies, exotic food stores, and hip ethnic restaurants, while those who could afford to were able to keep a safe distance from the squalor and criminal activity of the slum areas that mass immigration helped create.
A great many immigrants have become well-integrated and productive members of British society. But the architects of multiculturalism reckoned without the intransigence and intolerance of extremist Islam. Parts of London and other British cities are now divided between fashionable districts inhabited by the well-off professional classes and Muslim ghettos.
There are also areas where the boundaries are blurred, and where less-well-off liberally minded types — often students, the creatively inclined, and other vaguely “bohemian” types — live in close proximity to Muslims who at best disapprove of their lifestyle and at worst want to outlaw it.
Many of these young liberals will sympathize with the Islamists’ hostility towards “Western imperialism,” globalization, America, and Israel. Take the girl in the first video linked above, whom the “patrol” lambasts for being immodestly dressed. She’s white and well-spoken, and while she could be a conservative, it’s easy to imagine her joining an anti-war march or a sit-in at Starbucks, or brandishing a “We are all Hamas now” placard. The irony is that many of these young urban liberals also epitomize the lifestyle that British Muslims are increasingly lashing out against, and embrace the values and attitudes that have led to a hollowing-out of Western culture — whether it’s drug use, binge drinking, or the promotion of commitment-free sex and the sexualization of young girls.
The rotting of the culture that’s been underway for the last few decades is not, of course, all the fault of liberal politicians and Hollywood. The prevalence of celebrities who are woeful role models, and irresponsible marketing by the alcohol and fashion industries have played a big part. But it’s liberals who have exalted in continually pushing the boundaries and smashing taboos — particularly when it comes to sex and drugs — while mocking the calls of the religious and the socially conservative for restraint. What we’re increasingly witnessing on Britain’s streets and elsewhere in Europe is the great contradiction at the heart of the entire liberal multicultural project: the conflict in the physical and ideological space where tolerance collides with intolerance; where the bohemians come face-to-face with a brutal puritanism.
There’s an element of contradiction in all this for many on the right, too. Religious and social conservatives share the dismay of many Muslims at the state of Western society. The difference is that even the most conservative Christians and secularists have a rather higher tolerance for “immoral” behavior than extremist Muslims, and for them the solutions lie not in gangs patrolling the streets but in better education, the fostering of better morals, and the reform of welfare systems that have destroyed working class families and eroded personal responsibility.
It’s difficult to see where this ends.
Authorities are cracking down on the most obvious transgressions by Islamists, such as sexual abuse and vigilantism (several people have been arrested in connection with the YouTube videos). But low-level extremism mostly goes unpunished, and there’s little evidence of a change in the attitudes that cause Muslim immigrants to despise their hosts, and cause young men to be radicalized in mosques and Islamic bookshops, schools, and youth centers. Muslims are also not subject to the relentless attacks of the kind that Christians and social conservatives regularly endure, whether it’s in the workplace, by politically correct bureaucrats, or in popular culture and academia.
If the Left was half as interested in confronting extremist Muslims as it was in offending and marginalizing moderate Christians and conservatives, the Islamists would have a real battle on their hands.
It’s likely that Muslim communities will become increasingly “ghettoized,” which in turn will mean little hope for reform. Perhaps “Muslim patrols” will then extend their writ into the better-off districts inhabited by the liberal elites who birthed the multicultural monster. And perhaps those liberals will accept a form of dhimmitude; after all, it’s no great hardship to wait until you are behind your front door to open a can of beer rather than drinking it in the street, or for women to don a longer skirt and a headscarf when they venture outside.
Or perhaps the “Westernizing” influences that Muslims are now lashing out against will eventually overwhelm Islamic culture and family life, and a community whose more moderate members could teach their secular neighbors much about family values, self-respect, and personal morality will become as thoroughly corrupted as their hosts.
Then again, perhaps our decaying but seductive Western culture, and a robust but censorious Islamist one, will battle one another to a messy stalemate. None of the possibilities look pretty.