Thomas Landen, Hudson Institute, August 27, 2009
It is hot in Brussels. Ramadan has begun. The faithful in the predominantly Muslim borough of Molenbeek are not allowed to eat or drink from sunrise until sunset. Non-Muslim policemen, patrolling the streets of Molenbeek in their sweltering cars, are not allowed to eat or drink either. As every year during Ramadan, that they have been told by their superior, Philippe Moureaux, the Socialist mayor of Molenbeek, they have to respect Muslim sensitivities and not to “provoke” Muslims by violating Islamic Ramadan restrictions in public. In effect, Islamic or Sharia law is already applied–for everyone–in the Muslim areas of Brussels.
Some friends in Brussels organize one-hour trips through Molenbeek. They go in an inconspicuous car, driven by a local who knows the escape routes, and with a bodyguard. Otherwise the risk would be too great. These trips are called “safaris.” Similar “Eurabia Safaris” are organized in other European cities. One of the highlights–though absolutely not the most dangerous one–of the safari in Rosengaard, the Muslim section of the Swedish city of Malmö, is a short stop, to give the visitor the opportunity to take a quick snapshot, in front of Malmö’s “Jihadskörkortsteori” (Jihad Driving School).
The Sharia areas of Europe are expanding rapidly across Western Europe. While currently still restricted to what the French officially call the ZUS (zones urbaines sensibles–sensitive urban areas) these areas are growing fast. Even today, eight million of the sixty million inhabitants of France already live in one of the country’s 751 ZUS.
The month of Ramadan is traditionally the most dangerous time of the year in Europe’s sensitive areas. After sunset, the Ramadan ban on eating, drinking and engaging in sexual activities expires until the following sunrise. Ramadan is a period of nightly feasts for Muslims. Young Muslims are extremely touchy. These feasts easily spill over into nightly spasms of mayhem, vandalism, and violence. Europe’s Ramadan riots often go on for days or weeks, during which hundreds of cars, shops and public buildings are set on fire.
In Muslim countries, such as Indonesia, the police step up patrols during Ramadan in order to crack down on illegal nightly activities. In Europe, however, the police have been given orders to adopt an extra-low profile not to “provoke” Muslim populations. In countries such as Britain, police officers have had to attend “Ramadan awareness” courses. They have even been ordered, “for reasons of religious sensitivity,” to avoid the execution of arrest warrants for Muslims during the month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Europe is a tinder box.
The most widely reported Ramadan riots so far, which were even covered by the American press, took place in France in 2005. Since the 2005 riots, the French authorities have asked the media not to report about waves of violent unrest in the ZUS–a request which the media seem to have followed. During the 2005 Ramadan riots, several sociologists suggested that polygamy was one of the reasons for the large-scale rioting in Muslim communities among youths who lack a father figure. This theory seemed to have impressed France’s political leaders. Gérard Larcher, then France’s employment minister and currently the president of the French Senate, explained to the Financial Times (Nov. 15, 2005) that multiple marriages among immigrants lead to anti-social behavior, such as criminal activity. Bernard Accoyer, a leading parliamentarian of France’s governing UMP and currently the president of the French National Assembly (France’s Congress), said that children from large polygamous families have problems integrating into mainstream society.