Monday, April 12, 2010

Koranic values and gay-bashing in The Netherlands

Most of us, even in North America, are aware of the controversy that has reached almost epic proportions in Northwestern Europe. That controversy concerns the effects that massive immigration of Muslims is having--and may be expected to have in the future.

On the one hand, there are the multiculturalists who suggest that, as with most immigrant groups in the US, the Muslims will gradually integrate with the host societies. This process will actually be enriching, and will make it easier for Europe to engage in dialogue with Third World peoples in their own countries. Among some people at least, this view seems naively optimistic. For this reason I call the bearers Euro-Pollyannas.

Standing over against the multicultis are the antijihadists, represented by Bruce Bawer, Christopher Caldwell, and others. These writers point out that Islamists living in countries like Norway, the Netherlands, and Britain are seeking to transform the culture of the countries they live in. There is a movement to make Sharia law the equivalent of the civil law and common law, eroding the very concept of the rule of law itself. The repressive side of these efforts will impact particularly on women and gay people.

Up to now, it has generally been the pattern of immigrants to any country that they either assimilate into the host culture, or remain in separatist enclaves. The Islamist challenge to Western Europe is that--for the first time in human history, as far as I can see--they are demanding that the majority assimilate to t h e m instead of their assimilatiing to the culture in which they find themselves.

Clearly, there is some exaggeration on both sides. No one can know for certain what the future will bring. However, it would be useful to forearm ourselves about possible outcomes.

In a recent flurry of private Internet messages I have become aware of a vein of denial on the part of the multiculturalists that astonishes me. The specific issue is the violent assaults perpetrated by young Muslim men on gay people in the Netherlands. Sadly, this denialism has been coming from gay people themselves, either residents in Holland or visitors to the country.

For a number of years reports of this homophobic violence, especially on the part of young Muslims, have been accumulating. In a 2007 piece in the newspaper De Telegraaf, Boris Dittrich (Human Rights Watch) noted that "[y]ou can certainly state that Amsterdam's image of gay capital is in shambles." Dittrich’s assignment with his organization was to receive and process regular reports on anti-gay assaults from all over the world. "Incidents take place everywhere, but nowhere is the violence as structural as it is in Amsterdam at present. In my work, I am constantly confronted with it. People are coming up to me and asking me what on earth is happening in The Netherlands. The reports I receive about Amsterdam are shocking."

By 2007, when these comments appeared, a growing volume of reports about Moroccan youngsters assaulting gays had been reaching the media. As a result many “pink” tourists were changing their travel plans, opting for Berlin or Barcelona. "These cities do not have this problem. All in all you can conclude that our [gay friendly] image is well and truly smashed," as Dittrich stated in De Telegraaf.

The prevalence of PC taboos makes useful statistics hard to come by. In fact my multiculturalist opponents rely (as far as I can see) only on impressionistic generalizations.

Still, there is some relevant data. For the following points I am indebted to Bruce Bawer, who resided in Amsterdam for several years.

Bawer consulted a Report posted at, the site of the oldest gay-rights organization in the Netherlands, COC (which stands for Cultuur- en Ontspannings Centrum, or Culture and Recreation Center). On page six the Report states: “The suspects [in antigay attacks] are just as often native Dutch as of Moroccan descent (both 36%). Since 39% of all young people in Amsterdam under 24 years of age belong to the first group and 16% to the second, Moroccans are overrepresented among suspects in these kinds of violence.” However, Bawer notes that “if 36% of suspects are native Dutch, that means 64% are not native Dutch. Most of those who aren't either Dutch or Moroccan presumably belong to the other major immigrant groups in the Netherlands--Turkish, Surinamese, Indonesian, and Dutch Antillean.” Moreover, Bawer suspects that the statistics have been subject to PC manipulation--that they have been "cooked"--and that the real figures for immigrant antigay violence are higher.

Somewhat reluctantly, the researchers admit that “relatively speaking, Turks and Moroccans have a lot of trouble accepting homosexuality." On page 24, they note that "criminologist Jan Dirk de Jong suggests that the cause of the deviant conduct of Moroccan delinquent boys lies not in Moroccan culture or education per se but is primarily connected to their street culture.” (As Bawer aptly comments: “it's just a coincidence that the violent homophobia of that street culture is utterly consistent with Koranic values?”)

According to the Report “[r]esearch shows that religion in general has a strong effect on having a gay-negative attitude, even if one corrects for such attributes as gender, age and educational level. This includes all religions, not only Muslims but also Christians and in particular people with an active religious life. Among religious groups in the Netherlands, however, negativity toward gays varies, with Muslims being conspicuous for their extreme views.”

Bawer points out that Amsterdam is hardly overrun with violently antigay evangelical Christian youth, so that there is no logical reason to drag in Christianity here. “Yet it’s obvious [he observes] why the researchers did so: in academic circles nowadays, the only way you stand even a remote chance of getting away with any criticism of Islam, however tamely articulated and amply justified, is by tucking it snugly into a blanket criticism of all religions.”

My Euro-Pollyanna interlocutors will have nothing of this. One resident of Rotterdam complains that the Report cited deals only with Amsterdam. True enough, but is the situation any different in the other major Dutch cities? Oh but it is different, my opponent argues, in small towns such as Meppel that are away from the major centers,”where it is possible to spend a day without seeing a single "tinted" face--but where one would not be advised to be performatively gay on the street--the bashing is 100% native Dutch.” No figures are offered, just an impressionistic comment. I would wager that if the statistics were available the orders of magnitude would be entirely different. The antigay violence in the remoter areas is practiced by very small numbers of right-wing youths. Yet in the major cities Muslim bashers are numerous and dangerous. In fact if natives and visitors were not careful--as they are routinely advised to be--the incidence of such violence would probably be higher. Caution reduces the opportunity for attacks. Parts of Dutch cities are no-go zones, a fact known to all but the unwary.

My opponent goes on to say that “[v]iolent homophobia is present in all young male street cultures--Muslim, Nigerian Pentecostal, Latino Catholic (if you're in LA), Russian Orthodox (if you're in Moscow), or skinhead pagan (wherever you may be be unfortunate enough to encounter them). The fact that it is so 'interfaith,' if you will, would suggest to me that violent homophobia goes with young male (street) culture, and is not linked with any specific religion.”

This last ploy is the device that is known as “moral equivalence.” In days of yore this fallacy was quite common among Stalinists and their dupes. Once when I complained to a Stalinist about the gulags, he said that it was no different from Jim Crow in the American south. Rubbish. Both were deplorable, to be sure. But the order of magnitude is entirely different. The device of moral equivalence seeks to whisk evil away by claiming, in effect, that “everybody does it.” 

The key point is the one that Bawer notes: the practice of gay-bashing among Muslim youth in Dutch cities is supported by Koranic values.

Recently, there have been a series of violent attacks on gays in the Sacramento area of California that are perpetrated by recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union. We have no difficulty in connecting these attacks with the hardcore Christianist values of the immigrants. Why can we not say the same for Moroccans and other Muslims who are acting out their prejudices in Dutch cities?
At all events, the problem of Muslim aggression towards gays is not limited to the Netherlands, and therefore cannot be meaningfully discussed in an exclusively Dutch context.  It is found, for example, in Belgium, France, Norway, Sweden, and elsewhere.  It is spreading.

We are often told that (as with Christians) we should distinguish between the good Muslims and the bad Muslims.  Supposedly we have nothing to fear from the former.  Unfortunately, the boundary between the two groups is porous.  Indonesia is often held up as a model of Islamic moderation.  Perhaps so, but in recent days intolerant Muslims managed to shut down a gay conference in Surabaya, Java's second city.

At all events what must be addressed is the specific issue of Muslim homophobia, something that the Pollyannas seek to avoid at all costs. As I noted, when we discuss Christian homophobia we rarely hear that "other groups" are equally culpable.  We recognize that there are particular features in Christian Scripture, theology, institutions, and practice that foster antihomosexual beliefs and actions, including gay bashing.  This acknowledgement is essential.

By the same token it is unavoidable for Islam as well. Whatever the Euro-Pollyannas and other excusers may say, I and many others will continue our vocal analysis of the defects of Islam.  I have written a whole chapter of my book on this subject.  A draft version is available at under "Abrahamica," chapter six.  My research is ongoing.

POSTSCRIPT. As we have seen, gay people are the victims of the violence perpetrated by young Muslim men. But some gay people deny this. What is motivating their denialism? Ostensibly, it is the mindset termed multiculturalism. This in turn rests upon the cultural relativism endemic among our anthropologists and sociologists in particular. In other words, it is sociogenetic.

There is another reason, though, and that is political. It is feared that acknowledging the problem of Koranic gay-bashing will give aid and comfort to rightwing parties. In the Netherlands this means particularly the effort led by Geert Wilders. Born in 1963, Wilders is a Dutch politician who heads the Party for Freedom (PVV). Raised as a Roman Catholic and having left the Church at his coming of age, Wilders ascribes his politics to what he calls "Judeo-Christian values." He formed many of his political views on his travels to Israel, as well as the neighboring Arab countries.

Wilders has been outspoken on a number of issues such as immigration, freedom of speech, and Islam, not only in The Netherlands, but also on the international scene, where he has become one of the standard-bearers of anti-jihadism. He advocates a hard line against what he calls the "street terror" exerted by minorities in Dutch cities. Fitna, his controversial 2008 film about Islam in the Netherlands, has attracted international attention. Shockingly, on 21 January 2009, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal ordered his prosecution for what it said was "incitement to hatred and discrimination." Wilders was also banned from entering the United Kingdom between 12 February 2009 and 13 October 2009, with the Home Office viewing his presence as a "threat to one of the fundamental interests of society." After Wilders appealed, the ban was rescinded. He visited the UK on October 16, 2009, and again in March 2010, to show his film. Neither Britain nor the Netherlands has the equivalent of the US First Amendment, which (theoretically at least) protects the espousal of unpopular, "incorrect" ideas.

In March 2010 came the announcement that a documentary film about Geert Wilders was due to be released in the United States; Wilders himself is writing a book and producing a sequel to his film, both to be released after the parliamentary elections in the Netherlands in June 2010.

So much about Wilders. He has his rightwing counterparts in other Western European countries.

It is evident that the Euro-Pollyannas think that if they can suppress reports of Muslim violence, support for Wilders and others like him will decline. This effect is unlikely to be realized, because suppression does not stop discussion, though it may move it underground. In fact the perception of the suppression creates anger, and energizes the opposition--as we have seen with PC efforts in the US.

Ironically for the multicultis, the ultimate source of the problem is the flood of immigrants that began in the 1950s and is still continuing today, thanks to misguided "family-reunification" policies. If European populations had continued to be homogeneous--that is, lily-white--the left would probably still be in power in most European countries today. It is the presence of the immigrants themselves that is propelling the turn to the right. This may be, and probably is, unfortunate. Yet the problem will not be erased by attempting to suppress discussion of the facts.



Blogger rockingrector said...

At the risk of being considered a Pollyanna, I would say that at the moment this is not a huge problem in Britain. The majority of Muslims have adapted to a British way of life. But there is a strident minority who train in terrorist camps in Pakistan and have links to Al Quaeda.

Perhaps this is a problem that arises with the fundamentalists in any religion - it certainly sounds horrendous in Amsterdam.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Duarte Nobre said...

On the last 3 years 3 friends of mine were beaten up in the Gay street of Amsterdam. One of them is 2m high, and a rather strong man. Last weekend my 2 best friends were severely beaten up in Belgium at the Gay Pride, both ended up in the Hospital and one of them uncounscious...

2:09 PM  
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