CHARLOTTE, NC, October 20, 2014 – Recently this column warned that one of the dangers that has been ignored in the wake of the ISIS surge is the possibility of European cities with large Muslim populations dealing with spillover from Islamic extremists in the Middle East.
Germany is one of those countries where political correctness has appeased rationality and common sensed for far too long. Now Hamburg, the second largest city in the country, has witnessed blood in its streets that has been absent since the end of World War II.
The trouble began earlier this month when several hundred Kurds gathered near the central railway station in Hamburg to protest the Islamic State’s attacks in Kobani on the Syrian/Turkish border.
Initially the protests were peaceful, but police say they turned violent when a rival group of Salafists surprised the Kurds and challenged them with everything from baseball bats to machetes, knives and even skewers used for shish kebabs.
According to some analysts, the rival Muslim groups are using the tension in the Middle East to deliberately cause violence in European cities.
A number of countries including France, England and the Netherlands as well as Germany have had rapid increases in their Islamic communities in recent years.
On several occasions, Germany has bowed to pressure from local Muslims by allowing them to practice Sharia law within their community and by requiring Islam to be taught in some schools.
Whether Europe is facing a serious “spillover” effect from the Middle East is a moot point. Far too many cities and countries in Europe have bowed to internal pressures allowing Muslims certain rights by deferring to their religious beliefs.
With European populations on the decline and Islamic populations increasing, combined with what many experts call the secularization of the continent, such problems have been predicted for more than a decade.
The Islamic State has, in essence, created the perfect storm because true followers of Islam consider the re-establishment of the Caliphate to be a primary goal in the modern world.
Therefore, many Muslims who reject the concept of terrorism are willing to accept the idea of endorsing the Caliphate.
That is the single biggest reason it is both foolish and dangerous to boldly claim that “the Islamic State is not Islam.”
Such statements not only demonstrate the ignorance of the West, but they also embolden true Islamists because they know the West will only make token efforts to stop or control them.
The popular German newsmagazine “Der Spiegel” wrote, “The atmosphere (in Hamburg) was very, very explosive.”
“I had the feeling that we are living in Hamburgistan,” said one witness.
Gerhard Kirsch, a policeman in Hamburg, was quoted as saying the level of violence “points to a new dangerous dimension that we have so far not seen at other demonstrations.”
Dangerous is an understatement. Look for other cities throughout Europe to also find violence and riots erupting in the streets as the lack of involvement by the West in the Middle East continues to perpetuate the problem.
According to one report, on the same day the fighting took place in Hamburg, another melee broke out the town of Celle in Lower Saxony where more than 7,000 Yazidis are residents.
Yazidis are a Kurdish ethno-religious community which has been a target of ISIS since it began its insurgence.
Reports say the violence in Celle started after radical Muslim holy men used social media to send out a call to Islamists to confront the Yazidis.
In other words, the biggest differences between the Islamic State and other extremist organizations of the past is their sophistication in using modern technology combined with the core message of renewing the Caliphate and taking advantage of Western inaction.
It is a recipe for disaster.
Though Muslim communities in the United States have thus far generally been reasonably quiet, the power of social media and the “glory” of fighting for the cause can only be ignored for so long before the spillover reaches us.
“The Clarion Project” states that Germany is home to an estimated 4.3 million Muslims including 30 active Islamist groups and 43,000 Islamists.
Other European countries have similar staggering statistics.
While many Islamic experts continue to say that stating such figures is “Islamophobic,” the riots speak for themselves in the same way the Koran speaks to its followers to do precisely what they are doing.
The good news is that the West is finally beginning to recognize that there is a problem in dealing with Islamic extremism.
The bad news is that we continue to deny the root cause of that extremism, and, worse, we do not understand or have the will to combat it.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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