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This essay was first published at the Gates of Vienna blog in June 2008. It is republished here with some additions.
In May 2008, the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, stated that Islam is part and parcel of Europe and condemned the concept of a clash of civilizations. “Islam today is part of Europe. It is important to understand this. One should not see Islam as outside Europe. We already have an important presence of Islam and Muslims among our citizens,” Barroso told a press conference after a dialogue between EU leaders and twenty high-level representatives of Christianity, Judaism and Islam in Europe. The Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dr. Mustafa Ceric, responded that Islam is indeed part of Europe but unfortunately Turkey is not yet part of Europe. “Following this logic Europe has to prove that Islam is part of Europe by not delaying the acceptance of Turkey to the EU,” he said.
I find this especially sad since Mr. Barroso, prior to becoming the unelected leader of the EU, was Prime Minister of Portugal, a country that was for centuries under the Islamic yoke. Do the Portuguese miss their past status as dhimmis? The reaction of the Nordic countries to mass immigration and Muslim intimidation, with the exception of Denmark, has been pathetic. I’m certainly not proud of it, but at the very least countries such as Norway, Finland and the Baltic nations have had little historical exposure to Muslims. The Portuguese and the Spanish do not have this excuse, after centuries of Islamic occupation and hard struggles to regain control over their lands, which makes their current actions all the more difficult to understand.
Some Portuguese readers assured me that the situation was worse in other Western European countries than in Portugal, partly because other nations have more developed welfare states and are thus more attractive for those seeking welfare payments. I admit I know less about the situation in Portugal than in Spain, which is why I will concentrate mainly on Spain here. I do of course not believe that all Portuguese are like Barroso, just like not all Spaniards are like Zapatero (thank God). If all Europeans were like are so-called leaders, we would already be lost. But on the other hand, I haven’t seen anything indicating that Portugal is immune from the problems of the rest of Western Europe.
Observer Soeren Kern thinks that “Since Spanish Socialists (more often than not) have trouble winning arguments on their own merit, the preferred tactic is to demonize their opponents instead.” He’s undoubtedly correct about that, although I do no see how that makes Spanish Socialists different from their counterparts elsewhere. According to Kern:
“Italian voters in April  returned Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to a third term in office. The center-right leader was given a strong mandate to crack down on runaway immigration and spiraling street crime, two hot-button issues that are intrinsically linked, not just in the minds of Italians, but in those of many other Europeans too, especially in Spain. As a result, Spanish Socialists are (rightly) worried that Berlusconi’s get-tough approach will jeopardize their own fantastical vision of turning Europe into a post-modern multicultural utopia. It therefore comes as no big surprise that Spanish Socialist Deputy Prime Minister María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, who is also commonly known as Spain’s high-priestess of political correctness, recently lashed out at the no-nonsense immigration policies of the new Italian government. Her pontifical rebuke declared that the Spanish executive ‘rejects violence, racism and xenophobia, and therefore cannot agree with what is happening in Italy.’“ Moreover, “By rewarding illegal immigrants with Spanish (and thus European) documentation, Zapatero has unleashed what is known as the ‘ call effect ‘ to people as far away as Kashmir who now believe that Spain is an easy gateway into Europe.”
Gustavo de Aristegui, the foreign affairs spokesman for the conservative (but in my view still a bit too soft) Popular Party, explains in his book The Jihad in Spain: The obsession to reconquer Al-Ándalus that, in schools throughout the Muslim world, maps are used with Spain and Portugal colored green because they are still considered part of dar al-Islam, or the House of Islam.