What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate
by I. W. QUINN
March 13, 2017
When Marine Le Pen, French far right National Front presidential candidate, arrived at the appointed time on Tuesday, February 21st to meet with the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian, top religious authority for Sunni Muslims in Lebanon, she was expecting a head-of-state level meeting between two leaders of populations seeking to resolve issues that are not only festering, but are now escalating to emergency proportions. Surely Derian, noted Sunni religious scholar espousing Islamic tolerance and moderation, will be an ear for collaborative change that can only help ease the tensions in France over their ever growing, out of control Muslim population. But to her surprise and disbelief, Derian's claim as a Muslim reformer was greatly exaggerated. Before agreeing to meet with her there was one small requirement - that she don a hijab - the Muslim headscarf.
Derian knows her history. He knows the current French state of affairs. This reputed reformer had no intention of bending his strict Sharia law to accommodate a political figure from the West. During Lebanon's civil war between 1975-1990 thousands of Lebanese Muslims fled to France. The percentage has grown so large that they are now demanding that some Sharia (Islamic law) be accepted as accommodations within legitimate state law. Pushing back, the French have outlawed the hijab in schools and public buildings. Le Pen seeks to extend this ban to all public places. So the Mufti's demand that she sport a hijab before meeting with her was nothing more than one-upsmanship, a power play, if you will. If she caved, no one in France would ever again take her seriously. Incredulous, she replied to his representative, "You can pass on my respects to the grand mufti, but I will not cover myself up," and walked.
So who is this Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian? He is not afraid to talk. In March of 2015 he gave an extensive interview to Al-Hayat, the Lebanese news partner of Al-Monitor news organization entitled "Revisiting the ‘Clash of Civilizations' Theory". More than a mere interview, Derian laid out his manifesto. The crux of his position is that extremism has hijacked and distorted Islam and fails to represent the faith. The message of Islam, he says, is compassion for all peoples. He disavows violence and terrorism although they are imbedded in Koranic scripture. Referring to minority Christians & Yazidis, he says the Koran directs believers to "treat well those who do not fight our religion and do not replace us". His goal is for Muslims is to be able to co-exist with other cultures and to be able to build their mosques and Islamic centers in peace and mutual trust in the diaspora communities. Reform should focus on institutions, religious guidance, and religious media. As most adherents are moderate, it is in its best interest of Islam to project itself as moderate. This is, he continues, a methodology. A methodology for what end, we might ask. To keep adherents within the faith? To be accepted by "the other"? Or perhaps it is a ruse to lull the Western world to sleep as the Muslim communities perform soft jihad, moving in hordes into countries of the Western world, coexisting in relative peace until their numbers reach a large enough proportion to begin making demands of the host population?
He offers no scriptural source for his claim of the message of Islam being compassion for all people. No fewer than 109 verses in the Koran are violent and hateful and instruct Muslims to never befriend non-Muslims. This claim of compassion can never be taken seriously without radical religious reform, as opposed to reform simply in how to dialogue with people. As long as these 109 verses remain, the clerics can never whine that Islam has been hijacked. Actual religious reform would do away with the scriptural mandate of violent jihad and would go a long way toward attaining more trusting relations with their neighbors. Since the tactic of friendly discourse doesn't even acknowledge the source of the "clash of cultures", he will never succeed in moving the needle from a clash to the "convergence of cultures" that he envisions.
To her credit, Marine Le Pen sought dialogue with the Muslim cleric whom she imagined could wield some influence over France's largely Lebanese Muslim population. Although this group now numbers perhaps 10% of France, the exact figure is unknown, as it is illegal to take the census by religion. What is known is that the birth rate beats that of the native French, and that coupled with the practice of polygamy in which multiple wives with children can collect welfare, this subculture is responsible for an unprecedented drain on the social system.
No Go zones in Paris are neighborhoods with 100% Muslim population which are rough and poor. David Ono of ABC/KABC toured one of these zones and got an up close and personal look at an area where non-Muslims generally are not welcome. The streets are often blocked by worshippers with the excuse that their Mosque is too small and they require a new one. However, there is evidence that crowds are being imported to create unrest. They take over the streets, which is illegal, but the officials are afraid interfere. These No Go zones are full of disenfranchised young men. With no jobs and no prospects for jobs, they perform illegal activities, like selling cigarettes, to earn money for food. It follows that this underbelly is a perfect breeding ground for bigger problems, the spawning of terrorist activities.
Jean Robin, French publisher of the novel, The Mosque of Notre Dame 2048, believes that because, until recently, criticizing Islam has been politically incorrect, the government has actually helped to create this problem. He stated in a CBN news story in 2010, "We were expecting Islam to adapt to France and it is France adapting to Islam." France is now reaping the consequences of years of unchecked tolerance for an invasion of an intolerant subculture.
French philosopher and Islamic expert, Radu Stoenescu, goes a step further. He questions whether Islam is actually a religion. He states, "The problem of Islam is more than a problem of numbers. The problem is one of principles. It's an open question. Is Islam an ideology or just a creed? It doesn't matter how many there are. The problem is the people who follow Islam: they are somehow a political party, which has a political agenda, which means basically implementing Sharia and building an Islamic state."
Currently, Muslims in France are pushing for official acceptance of Muslim dress. One woman interviewed in Jean Robin's CBN piece declared, "The veil is in the Koran. We only submit to Allah and nobody else." There are two problems with this statement. One: the hijab is found nowhere in the Koran, and two: to submit to no one but Allah means that you do not even recognize the laws of your chosen country. This one simple statement demonstrates clearly the Clash of Cultures between the 7th century theocracy and the civilized Western world. The Grand Mufti of Lebanon may wish for this clash to be a mere convergence, but that doesn't make it so.
The Grand Mufti Derian is under the unfortunate delusion that changing and controlling dialogue will pave the way for a "Convergence of Civilizations". His goal is to induce the West to passively accept a massive influx of people whose deep culture is a 7th century theocracy with a superiority complex. He really thinks that with smiling faces and dialogue, all will join hands singing "We Are the World". The reality is that without real reform of the actual ideology of Islam whose adherents are continually growing and taking up space and resources in new territories, there is zero chance that its followers can live in kumbaya bliss with Western developed nations. A true reform can only begin when the clerics agree to abrogate the 109 verses that demand violence against the unbelieving world. Additionally, throwing aside Sharia Law, which was born from theocracy, is an unconditional requirement for living within the structure of Western law. The mufti's idea of reform requires no actual reform of the ideology itself and no compromise on the part of the Muslim community. Its theocratic world view including Sharia Law are completely contrary to Western deep culture and secular law, and need to go.
France has given us a wakeup call. Their current state of affairs is the result of unchecked immigration coupled with the naiveté that tolerance and acceptance will be returned by the newcomers' eagerness to become French. This did not turn out to be the case. France is the U.S. on steroids. Currently at only 1% of the U.S. population, the Muslims are still playing nice in most places. However, even now we are battling increased unrest in such places as Dearborn Michigan where the numbers, looking more like France's 10%, make the newcomers bolder in their demands.
Lastly, the irony of Marine Le Pen's seeking dialogue with the Grand Mufti and being refused by "Mr. Let's Reform the Discourse" does not escape us. It is the only thing he advocates in his quest for change (besides denouncing violence and terrorism). In this exchange with Marine Le Pen (or lack thereof), he demonstrated how ineffective and unmoving he is in creating dialogue.
Marine Le Pen was right to refuse the hijab. Not only a symbol of feminine submission, in this case it was specifically meant to represent her submission to the Grand Mufti's authority. The very idea is beyond laughable. Le Pen may have left fuming at the Grand Mufti's test of wills, but with a symbol so obvious, both she and the world now have irrefutable evidence of the reality and intransigence of France's and the Western world's "Clash of Culture" crisis with 7th century Islam.
I. W. Quinn holds an M.Ed. from Rollins College and is a former social science educator. I. W. now engages in research and supports such causes as creating financial stability for those in poverty and assisting persecuted Christian asylum seekers entering the U.S. from majority Muslim countries.'