One day Karen Jespersen and Ralf Pittelkow drove from their home in Dragør, over the Øresund bridge, to the Rosengård district in Malmö. They drove around and felt that they've arrived in a different world. Shops had signs in Arabic. Only a few spoke Swedish on the street. Veiled women were everywhere. There were satellite dishes on the balconies.
"We thought of a young headscarf-wearing woman who appeared on Swedish TV," remembers Karen Jespersen. "She said: 'it feels like Iraq or another Arab country. I feel excellent in Malmö'. Rosengård is a Muslim parallel society where people live their own lives. This provides fertile ground for radical Muslims to have growing influence. All over Europe we see the same trend in many major cities."
This trend led the athor husband-and-wife team to write the book 'Islams magt. Europas ny virkelighed' (Islam's power, Europe's new reality). The book is meant as a warning.
Q: A warning against what?
"We show that significant changes occur in European populations with a rapidly growing proportion of Muslims," says Ralf Pittelkow and adds: "At the same time there's a trend for more and more young Muslims to denounce European societies and their values. They want their own Muslim communities, where Islam's values and regulations govern. It scan lead to a completely different Europe with great conflicts."
The book uses many concrete examples from various European counties to show that there is pressure to increase Islam's influence in society. This can be seen in the chapters on women's situation, crime, freedom of speech, fragmenting society, Islamic law, Islamism and terrorism.
Q: It's been said that the Muslims who are born and grow up in Europe are becoming more integrated. You don't see any positive trend in that direction?
"Yes, we do," says Karen Jespersen. "There's a significant group of youth who integrate and contribute to our society. We stress that Muslims are a diverse group with different view. We point out three groups especially:
On the one hand, there are the Islamists, who want an Islamic society. On the opposite side are the liberal Muslims, who want to integrate Islam in the liberal, democratic society. Between these there's a very big middle group who accept Islam's dogmas, but only practice them to a lesser degree. This grou's development is critical. Unfortunately, a growing portion of them are moving more in the Islamic direction."
Q: We we must surely give Islam the same religious freedom as other religions?
"Absolutely. But it's important to understand that Islam is not just a religion like all others. Islam set rules for how society should be organized. The rules can only be implemented in practice if Islam has power in society. Therefore strong Muslim forces are trying to influence the form of European societies. We reject that. Muslims should have freedom to practice their faith. But Islam shouldn't have power," says Ralf Pittelkow.
"We point out that Islam's power shows up in different ways. It can be religious Islamists who want to implement their principles. But at the opposite end, it can also be Muslims gangs, who take control of a neighborhood. Even if they don't comply to the principles of Islam, it is clear that many of them identify strongly with Islam."
Q: Why are you so afraid of parallel societies? Isn't it an expression of diversity?
"It's not a positive diversity, but on the contrary, a deeply damaging fragmentation and dissolution of society. We're getting a society where there are deep rifts between the population groups. It undermines one of the most important qualities of a society, namely the trust between people. Denmark is a country with a lot of trust, and it will be a tragedy if we squander it," says Karen Jespersen.
Q: How will Europe avoid this trend you fear?
"Strictly controlled immigration is a prerequisite for integration to succeed," says Ralf Pittelkow. "But beyond that it's about standing fast to European basic values. Above all, we must insist on the tradition of information and freedom, which applies the same rules, the same demands and the same rights to all. No to Muslim special requirements."
"We will not have gender separation. We will not have male domination over women. We will not have Islamic headscarves in our justice system, educational system and health system. We will not have restrictions on our freedom of speech. We will not have closed off Muslim areas. We will not have burqas or niqabs. We will have air and light, freedom and equality," says Karen Jespersen.
"the problem is that the elite in European society have shown no joy, pride or resolution when it comes to our values. They have been plagued by guilt and contempt for their own culture and have been way too tolerant for the deeply intolerant features of Islam. This is Europa's most profound problem: Lacking self-consciousness and fighting spirit," says Ralf Pittelkow.
Source: Lokalavisen (Danish)
See also Book Review: Islamists and Naivists: An Indictment by the same authors