University of Utah Conference: Radical Islam in Europe

Intimidation and coercion tactics give radical Islamic terrorists their strength, Leslie Lebel said.

Lebel, a senior fellow of the Atlantic Council of the United States, spoke about radical Islam in Europe and the strain between European nationals and Muslim immigrants at the U's Hinckley Institute of Politics on Wednesday. She said the cause of strain is rooted in immigrants' resistance to integration.

The belief in traditional Islamic concepts is used by extremists as a tool to control outsiders with warnings of retribution if depictions of Islam are used, Lebel said. As an example, Lebel said threats against the lives of Danish cartoonists for publishing an illustration of Muhammad were an unjust coercion of power through faith.

"A large number of the immigrants in Europe, unlike the U.S., are Muslims," Lebel said. "They come from very different places, very different ethnic groups and very different traditions. For example, in Germany, you have a lot of Turks who came in the 1950s to provide labor for Germany's economic miracle after the war."

The population of the European Union is about 480 million people, with the Muslim population making up 3 percent of this total, Lebel said. She said many Europeans are resisting the change Muslim immigrants are bringing.

Most Muslim immigrants to European countries are exclusive, staying in tight-knit communities and refusing to learn the language of the countries to which they immigrate, Lebel said. She cited two reasons for this resistance. First, Europeans haven't wanted Muslims to integrate because they come from different cultures and practice non-European traditions. Secondly, Muslims aren't willing to assimilate into the dominate culture of countries to which they move.

American Muslims tend to integrate more easily and generally live a middle-class lifestyle, but there are a growing number of Muslim extremists in Europe, Lebel said.

Radical Muslims have different justifications for their actions, she said. Some believe that they must return to lifestyles and practices of seventh-century Arabia and others act to retake lands that were taken from Islamic groups, such as Spain.

"I think there are two roots of radical Islam," Lebel said. "One does go back into the Koran and takes a lot of these basic Islamic concepts that have existed over the years, but have not necessarily been turbulent that way. The other group goes into European totalitarianism, there are direct philosophical and personal links to Naziism and Communism as well."

The relationship between radical Islamic groups and Naziism is based in the worship of death, blood-lust and a control over peoples' lives in all aspects, but the central concept is a hatred of Jews, Lebel said.

Source: Daily Utah Chronicle (English)

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