Recently the Partij voor Moslim Nederland (Party for Muslim Netherlands), which already enjoys a significant presence in various municipal governments in that country, announced that it intended to run candidates for the Dutch Parliament. An article in Forbes listed the party's major principles, which included limits on “offensive” speech about religion; the criminalization of blasphemy and of the destruction of religious texts; immediate admission of Turkey to the EU; an end to support for Israel; and the free and unimpeded importation of Muslim brides from abroad.
Whether to work within existing parties, or to concentrate on forming and building up separate Muslim parties, has always been a key strategic question for the soft jihadists of Europe. Though there are Muslims in Norway who are prominent members of several large traditional parties, the country now has a Muslim party too. Founded in 2009 as the Independent Labour Party, it was obliged later that year to change its name to the Samtidspartiet (Contemporary Party) because of official concerns that it might be confused with the Norwegian Labor Party. When outlining the party's goals, its founder, Norwegian-Pakistani Ghuffor Butt, focused on a desire for lower taxes, gas prices, and the like – making it sound like rather a libertarian party for Muslims. Formerly a cinema director, producer, and political journalist in Pakistan, as well as an actor in some twenty Pakistani movies, Butt ran – and, as far as I know, still runs – a successful store in Grønland, a largely Muslim district in Oslo, that sells Bollywood films.
Yet lest these credentials suggest he was a “liberal” and “modern” Muslim, Butt made it clear, in answer to a Dagbladet journalist's questions, that his party's other objectives included lifting the ban on hijab in the police force, establishing exclusively Muslim schools and hospitals, instructing immigrant-group children in their parents' native tongue rather than in Norwegian, easing residence-visa rules, using taxpayer money to fund the building of mosques and pay the salaries of imams, punishing those who had reprinted the Danish Muhammed cartoons, withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, and prohibiting homosexuality. (Later, presumably loath to offend some of his allies on the left, Butt made a phone call to Dagbladet to walk back the bit about gays: while homosexual conduct is forbidden by Islam, he said, the party did not intend to change Norwegian law on the subject. Yeah, right.)
“If Norwegians didn't drink alcohol, have premarital sex, and eat pork,” Butt told Dagbladet, “they'd be the world's best Muslims.” He also suggested that Mossad was responsible for 9/11 and echoed the popular myth that Jews hadn't shown up for work at the World Trade Center that day.
It is interesting to note that the official launch of this putatively Norwegian political party took place in Pakistan – yet another apparent indication of the way in which many Norwegian-Pakistanis view their relationships to their old and new homelands. As Butt explained, it was easier to reach Norwegian Pakistani voters in Norway this way because they didn't watch Norwegian TV: thanks to satellite dishes, their sets are tuned to the Pakistani channels on which he was planning to do interviews. “In three years, Oslo's mayor will be a Norwegian-Pakistani,” he predicted (wrong so far), and expressed the hope that within fifteen years a “second-generation immigrant” would be Norway's prime minister.
Then there's the U.K., where Muslims established the Islamic Party of Britain in 1989 only to dissolve it in 2006 after limited success in local elections. The party received widespread attention when one of its functionaries, in answer to a reader's question on its website, said that gays should be put to death for “public...lewdness.” The party is no more, but it lingers on, after a fashion, in the form of the socialist Respect Party, to which it had intimate ties. Based in the immigrant-heavy city of Manchester, run by two people named Salma Yaqoob and Abjol Miah, and founded in 2004 in opposition to the war in Iraq, the party – which has what one might call a “special relationship” with the Muslim Association of Britain, the Muslim Council of Britain, and the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) – calls for a higher minimum wage, higher taxes on the rich to fund welfare programs, stauncher support for Pakistani, and a tough stance toward Israel; though it presents itself as a part of the left, it has soft-pedaled women's rights and gay rights to garner Muslim votes. Its most famous member is the Hamas-loving international gadfly George Galloway, who represented the party in Parliament after his expulsion from Labour.
And let's not forget Spain, where in 2009 Muslims formed the Partido Renacimiento y Unión de España (PRUNE), which – though it calls explicitly for a “moral and ethical regeneration” of Spanish society, with Islam as the motive force – denies that it's a Muslim party. A similar situation obtains in Germany, where a party called the Alliance for Innovation and Justice, founded in 2010, also claims it's not a Muslim institution, despite its overwhelmingly Muslim membership, its clearly Islamic ideological orientation, and its intimate ties with the ruling party in Turkey.
So it goes. In those places in Europe where Muslims have reached a certain percentage of the population, it's not surprising to see Muslim parties cropping up, fielding candidates, and, eventually, winning elections – first for local offices, then for seats in Parliament.
One challenge facing all such parties, however, is that of convincing Muslims that a separate party is the best way for them to gain power. Indeed, while it's important to keep an eye on these still relatively small parties, at present the far more significant problem is the readiness of the large, established parties that, in order to win Muslim votes, are quick to betray their founding principles – and to sell out the interests, rights, and security of members of constituencies (such as gays and Jews) that are increasingly being dwarfed by ever-ballooning Muslim populations. The possibility of those Muslim votes being siphoned off by newer, smaller parties with aggressively Islamic platforms can only encourage the major parties to shift their own agendas in even more Muslim-friendly directions.
It's all part, needless to say, of the complex, subtle – and ominous – workings of soft jihad. Which is why the decision of the Party for Muslim Netherlands to dive into the parliamentary fray is a development worth taking note of. For it's no isolated incident, but part of a much larger and constantly shifting picture – that of the steady, and seemingly inexorable, political Islamization of Europe.
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