Israel Hayom has an interesting interview with Dutch-Iranian Professor Afshin Ellian, and his thoughts on integration and Islamization in a decadent Europe.
In Europe this is a huge problem, especially in England, because of the concept of multiculturalism which is essentially ideological. This is a leftist, post-modernist idea whose time has passed. It originated with the old elites of Europe who believe in nothing. They think everyone is good, and if one strayed from the right path it must be because they just needed money, or a vacation. And for these people it is very difficult to accept that their theory, their ideology, has failed. This is a source of a huge tragedy for the governments and for society, who are at a loss how to deal with the issue; but mostly for the immigrants. Because as myself and others see it, if you live in Europe and wish to remain in Europe, you must become integrated into society. By acquiring the language, learning a trade, accepting the rule of law, accepting democracy, respecting gay rights, women’s rights. For years, no such demands were made of the immigrants.”
Q: What is the agenda of the old elite as you saw it?
“They have no agenda, they are completely decadent. Nihilists. After the Second World War they lived the good life and thought of bringing over workers to Europe. Now the old elites hate Europe. Europe, according to them, is the source of injustice, of colonialism, just as Edward Said thought. They brought damage to the immigrants because they did not encourage them to learn the local language and to become integrated and promote themselves so that one day they could be mayors of cities, poets, writers.
“Instead they encouraged them to stick to their native language, as they deemed it better than the European language.”
Q: Did this attitude have a goal? Did they see in their vision world peace for instance?
“No, they only wanted to pay for their guilt, the historical guilt of Europe, the murderous continent, and they acted out of some atheist kind of Christianity which I call nihilistic. For them, myself and others like me were considered troublemakers.”
Q: Because you wanted to become integrated.
“Yes. I arrived in the Netherlands in 1989. It was really very strange for the elite that people like me wanted to establish themselves, wanted to acquire a good level of the Dutch language, or to adopt some basic cultural aspects of the society. They found it unacceptable, for example, if I defended some rational aspect of Dutch culture against Iranian culture. In their opinion I was busy insulting other peoples.”
Q: Dealing in a kind of heresy.
Q: So in Iran you were persecuted for being different and then you find yourself persecuted once again in Europe, intellectually, because you wanted to be like them. …
“Yes. My focus was my desire for freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of thought, justice for everyone and no religious rule, especially no Islamic rule. When I arrived in Holland I was happy with the regime. I was young and enthusiastic and wanted to point out to everyone the problematic way of life in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and the changes that should be introduced. The problem was that the western elite viewed this kind of debate with anger. They claimed that my approach had the inklings of racist behavior, of discrimination. I was perplexed. What is the problem with this? I spoke of the constitution of Holland, of Immanuel Kant, of the right to criticize religion. For instance, I said in an interview on a television program that Christianity and Judaism were already on the operating table of reason and rationality. They are in court, so to speak, under critique by many great philosophers. Now is the time for Islam to be placed on the operating table and to be examined rationally and philosophically.
“I have no desire to eliminate Islam. I am an intellectual, I ask questions. Just like Nietzsche asked about Christianity or Spinoza about Judaism.”
Q: And no one posed these questions before?
“Genuine critique of Islam from within Islamic culture really appeared only after September 11, 2001. I can think of only four such people who did this: Salman Rushdie, [Somali-born female Dutch parliament member] Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq and myself.”
Q: What was the reaction of the old elite to 9/11?
“They were shocked that the attack occurred in New York which for them was the same as an attack against Europe — Amsterdam or London. They realized that they could be the victim and that the enemy does not pause to ask your name.”
Q: So has something changed in their way of thinking?
“Not really. They are afraid, and want more checkpoints, more control. But it is too late for them to undergo a real change in ideology. They don’t want to argue with Islam, they only want Intelligence operations against radical Islam. They don’t want a discussion about cultural differences or rationality – a very dangerous issue for them. Their way of thinking has not changed. They are only afraid for their own lives but not for the well-being of western culture. And I am very concerned for the well-being of Western culture.”
Q: This makes me think of “L’etranger” by Albert Camus. You are the stranger who came from outside to point out home truths.
“This is the situation at the moment. I know what lack of freedom means, and I know about the tyranny of a regime based on Islam. I know how important it is to develop culture. During my stay in Israel I have been thinking that this is what we need for the whole Middle East. In Israel both religious and secular can find a peaceful way to guarantee freedom for all. But the old elite in the West doesn’t understand that Israel is an example of what is good in Europe: the rule of law, democracy, freedom of expression, and so forth. This decadent elite has forgotten what tyranny means.”
Q: Have they lost their survival instinct? Because it reminds me of “The Decline of the West” by Oswald Spengler, which he wrote in the 1920s. He said that Western culture had lost the basic instinct to live.
“This is the present state of affairs in Europe and this was the main motive for the rise of a new elite in Europe and in America.”
Q: Tell me about this new elite.
“The new elite is not only European in origin. It consists of immigrants, too: for example, the Mayor of Rotterdam — a huge, important city — Ahmad Abu Taleb, lived in Morocco until he was 14. He is a social democrat. A leftist but completely different to the old elite. He encourages the integration of immigrants, wants the rule of law, opposes the use of violence against gays, against women, and seeks tolerance for everybody except radical Muslims. He believes in Islam but not in political Islam. Then there is also Ayaan Hirsi Ali. We are allies against radical Muslims and the old elites in Holland. And the situation is that it is much easier today to raise debates on sensitive issues than ten years ago. It is no longer considered unusual to debate about Islam. And you see the process of change has spread throughout Europe. In France, too, there is a new-thinking elite which no longer accepts Edward Said or Jean-Paul Sartre. However, this is a slow-changing process.”
That may be excessively optimistic, considering the political events taking place in the Netherlands, but we’ll see.