Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes spoke to a crowd of over eighty on Monday in the Shapiro Theatre. He lectured to a mainly off-campus audience on "The Islamization of Europe."
Pipes, commenting on the controversy of the last few months and thanking the Middle East Review for "navigating the various straits that got us here," told the audience that "the topic of Islam in Europe is the elephant in the room… it's a deep, profound issue." He added that "Europe becomes more and more a province of Islam."
According to Pipes, there were three possible futures for Europe, which he explored over the course of his lecture: "Muslim domination of Europe, Europe rejects Islam, or everybody gets along."
For the first hypothesis, Pipes mentioned that an Italian minister was "bounced… because he is a believing Catholic." He also mentioned that in Europe, a dwindling European birth rate and confidence in Christianity was coming against an increase of Muslim immigrants and birth rate, as well as a stronger confidence in their religion: "Europe is being called the new dark continent," he said.
Furthermore, Pipes stated, many immigrants "do not see that they are coming to something worthwhile," using Britain as an example: "[while] trying to impose ‘Britishness' was seen as offensive… if you denigrate your own culture, you find your rivals trying to find another one elsewhere." Pipes cited that Europe's religious and cultural "alienation" came from the First World War: "Europeans found themselves in the abyss 90-odd years ago, and they've never really been the same since."
Mentioning Prince Charles' subtle shift from "Protector of the Faith" to "Protector of Faith—all faith," Pipes also cited that in contrast to the secularizing of Europe, "in Brussels, Muhammad is the most popular name for baby boys," adding that Brussels and Rotterdam will soon have Muslim majorities.
Adding that many of these new immigrants focus on "pornography, divorce, and homosexuality," Pipes said that the increasingly secular nature of European society would keep new immigrants from wanting to assimilate. "The immigrants are coming with a very arrogant sense," he told an audience member. "Stating that some critics' views that "the faith is growing like a canker," Pipes said that one conclusion is "there is a dominant secularism on one hand, and Europe will be Islamized because the yin of Europe will meet with the yang of Islamization—they fit well together."
The other likely prospect, Pipes said, "is that Muslims will be rejected." According to some, Pipes said, "Europe's Muslims are living on borrowed time."
Citing instances of the recent French movement to serve pork soup to the homeless "to make sure who's who" and to serve wine at important dinners with Muslims, he said "there is every reason to think that these parties will get stronger… [that] fascist and violent action would reject multiculturalism." According to Pipes, "European Muslims are worried about incarceration, brutality… [or] Hitler-style gas chambers for Muslims… we cannot be sure that a European reassertion would happen voluntarily, or without violence."
Finally, Pipes mentioned the third possibility, which was Europeans and Muslims living together peacefully, in which "Muslims do not expect to change the European state, but are expected to adapt to European culture." To create a greater equilibrium in populations, Pipes said, would require more immigration from Latin America and China, which would create an increase of the Christian population.
Still, Pipes said, he did not feel this would be likely: "Europeans find it too strenuous to have children, to stop illegal immigration, or to even diversify." While Pipes finally injected his opinion saying that "I would personally like to see Islam get Europeanized," he added that while neither Europe nor the immigrant population make the effort to assimilate, "Europe marches us all into terra incognita."
Students, despite much of the controversy surrounding Pipes, were fairly positive about his speech. Only two questioners during the event raised some tension: Julia Gordon '07 asked Pipes to explain his "eugenics" argument, to which he responded "where did you hear that? …That's not a place I would ever want to go to." Jacob Korman '08, meanwhile, was interrupted while speaking to Pipes by moderator Jacob Olidort '07, when his statements were not framed as a question.
"The biggest problem I had with his argument was that on the one hand he argued that European culture is so weak and undervalued by Europeans that Muslims are rejecting it, yet on the other hand he argued that European culture is so strong to be impenetrable by Muslims," said Adam Schwartzbaum '07. "So which is it: is Europe's culture so weak that it's unattractive, or so strong that it's inaccessible to immigrants? I don't see how you can have both at once."
"He was very Islamophobic, him saying that if you want multiculturalism you need Chinese people… it shows he's not looking for a solution to this. It's not the idea of a culture clash that bothers him, it's an Islam in Europe," said Korman. "He's trying to bring about anger and worry. I think there are solutions, but Pipes was not interested in looking at them… There's a reason he was called a weapon of mass destruction before he came here. I think because of that quote, he moderated his views, because otherwise he would prove what Jehuda said."
Ben Sacks '10 said,"I didn't think Pipes was controversial in any way. He mainly listed different possibilities for the future of the relationship between Europe and Islam. He didn't even explain which possibility he supported. I felt more like he was putting an issue on the table than making a stand on it."
Editor's Note: Ben Sacks '10 is the Features Editor.