In Cremona, Italy, Fr. Sante Braggiè has announced that there will be no nativity scene at the local cemetery. “A small corner of the cemetery is reserved for Muslim graves,” said Fr. Braggiè; “A crib positioned within sight of them could be seen as a lack of respect…”
The lambs in the nativity scene can now be considered sacrificial lambs—offered up to appease the twin gods of political correctness and Islamic sensitivities. The concession is just one of innumerable attempts to show Muslims how willing we are to cater to their finely-tuned sensibilities.
Another casualty in the don’t-do-anything-to-offend-Muslims campaign is the St. Lucy’s Day celebration in Sweden. Every December 13, each town and village selects a girl to represent St. Lucy and she is then crowned with a wreath and candles. Other girls and boys dressed in white accompany her and sing “Santa Lucia” and other songs. Increasingly, however, cities, communities, and schools are dropping the tradition because, in the words of a Swedish ethnologist, “Many people do not recognize themselves in this.” The “many people” he refers to are the “new Swedes”—from Turkey, Iraq, Bosnia and Somalia.
But with the disappearance of the old traditions, new ceremonies of appeasement are cropping up all over. In the Netherlands, a government-funded anti-discrimination watchdog group has ruled that it is acceptable for Muslims to send death threats to gays because such attitudes are sanctioned in the Koran. Up until recently, the Netherlands was considered a gay mecca, but now that Amsterdam and Rotterdam have begun to resemble the real Mecca, it seems that the sensitivities of Muslims take precedence over the sensitivities of gays.
Recently, the Netherlands offered up another sacrificial lamb to Islam in the person of Dutch MP Geert Wilders. The judges periodically haul Wilders into court, but this is the first time they have been able to convict him. The Netherlands’ bravest citizen was fined for the “hate crime” of calling for a halt to Moroccan immigration into Holland. It used to be that Islamic leaders had to issue their own fatwas against critics of Islam—as in the case of British novelist Salman Rushdie—but these days, the European courts will save them the trouble. European authorities seem to have accepted the sharia law prohibition against offenses to Islam as binding on their own citizens.
Nor is the fear of offending Islam confined to Europe. Several years ago, columnist Mark Steyn, a Canadian who lives in America, was tried in three separate Canadian courts for criticizing Islam. And on December 13th of this year, Facebook shut down the account of Robert Spencer, who is the editor of JihadWatch, the premier counter-jihad site in America. The account was restored on the next day in response to public pressure, but Facebook has a record of censoring critics of Islam; they’re unlikely to change course because of one setback. According to sharia law, “slander” is anything a Muslim would dislike to hear. And Facebook is doing its best to ensure that Muslims do not have to hear anything they would not like to hear. Meanwhile, Georgetown University, the educational institution formerly known as “Catholic,” has put itself at the forefront of the campaign against “Islamophobia.”
As most sentient individuals now realize, these attempts to placate Islam by expunging things that offend it are doomed to failure. That’s because nothing short of complete capitulation will appease Islam. It doesn’t matter how many crèches are mothballed or how many Christmas celebrations are canceled, Muslims will still find occasion to be offended.
This can be seen most clearly in Muslim-majority nations. Recently in Pakistan, Muslim men left their mosque in order to storm into a nearby church where children were singing Christmas carols. They smashed the altar and furniture with an axe and beat the children. Why? Because, as one of the attackers put it, “you are disturbing our prayers.” This attitude goes back to the seventh-century “Conditions of Omar” which deal with the treatment of Christians under Islamic rule. Among other things, Christians are not to raise their “voices during prayer or readings in churches anywhere near Muslims.”
The Pakistani Christian children got off easy. In Cairo, twenty-five Christians (mostly women and children) were killed and sixty-five severely wounded when an Islamist set off a bomb at St. Peter’s Cathedral during Sunday Mass on December 11. Attacks on Christians are very common in Egypt, as are attacks on churches. Bishop Makarios of Minya asserts that Christians are attacked “every two or three days” in that city.
But Christians in Egypt, as in Pakistan, try to keep a low profile. They are well aware of the Conditions of Omar and they do their best to observe them. Christians in Muslim-majority lands know that they must tread lightly. Which raises the question: what is the ultimate source of Muslim grievance? It is not, according to Middle East expert Raymond Ibrahim, any of the various offenses that Westerners blame for Muslim anger. The ultimate Muslim objection to non-Muslims, he contends, is that they are non-Muslims. In Islam, unbelief is an insult to Allah. Indeed, his anger against the “disbelievers” flares out from almost every page of the Koran.
One of the big questions on the minds of Americans after 9/11 was “Why do they hate us?” But, as Ibrahim points out, the answer is simply that Allah commands his followers to hate unbelievers. Here is Ibrahim’s translation of an exhortation by Osama bin Laden to other Muslims:
As to the relationship between Muslims and infidels, this is summarized by the Most High’s Word: “We renounce you. Enmity and hate shall forever reign between us—till you believe in Allah alone” (Qur’an 60:4).
Why do they hate us? Here’s the answer given in the summer 2016 edition of Dabiq, the official magazine of the Islamic State:
We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; you reject the oneness of Allah…you blaspheme against Him, claiming that He has a son [Christ]…the fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us…and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam.
Not every Muslim hates Christians and other non-Muslims, of course, but for those who do, no amount of appeasement is going to make any difference. Putting the crèche in cold storage won’t do the trick. Neither will the cancellation of St. Lucy’s Day, nor the conviction of Geert Wilders, nor the installation of Muslim prayer rooms in Christian colleges, nor declarations of solidarity with Islam—nor any other of the myriad ways that non-Muslims employ to prove their friendship. If you really want to mollify Islamists, here’s what you have to say: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”
As the Western world sinks deeper and deeper into non-offensive submissiveness, its citizens will find it increasingly convenient to utter that declaration of assent. Fr. Braggiè’s predecessor, Fr. Oreste Mori, said of the crèche cancellation, “We cannot renounce our culture and traditions. That would be an unpardonable weakness… I am, for the time being at least, in Italy, not Saudi Arabia…” For the time being, yes. But time and demographics, and European pusillanimity suggest that time is not on the side of Europe—much less European Christianity.