Eurabia's Capital: Rotterdam...
A report from an Italian newspaper about Rotterdam...
The fact that Eurabia has arrived in Rotterdam has been demonstrated by an episode in April at the Zuidplein Theatre, one of the most prestigious in the city, a modernist theater proud of "representing the cultural diversity of Rotterdam." It is located in the southern part of the city, and receives funding from the municipality, headed by a Muslim, the son of the imam Ahmed Aboutaleb. Three weeks ago, the Zuidplein Theatre allowed an entire balcony to be reserved for women only, in the name of sharia. This is not happening in Pakistan or in Saudi Arabia, but in the city from which the Founding Fathers set out for the United States. It was from here that the Puritans disembarked in the Speedwell, which they later exchanged for the Mayflower. This is where the American adventure began. Today, it has legalized sharia.
For a performance by the Muslim Salaheddine Benchikhi, the Zuidplein Theatre agreed to his request to have the first five rows set aside for women only. Salaheddine, an editorialist for the website Morokko.nl, is known for his opposition to the integration of Muslims. The city council has approved this: "According to our Western values, the freedom to live one's own life by virtue of one's convictions is a precious possession." A spokesman for the theater has also defended the director: "It is hard to get Muslims to come to the theater, so we are willing to adapt."
Another man who has been willing to adapt is the director Gerrit Timmers. His words are fairly symptomatic of what Wilders calls "self-Islamization." The first case of self-censorship took place in Rotterdam, in December of 2000. Timmers, the director of the theater group Onafhankelijk Toneel, wanted to stage a performance about the life of Mohammed's wife Aisha. The play was boycotted by the Muslim actors in the company when it became evident that it would be a target for the Islamists. "We are enthusiastic about the play, but fear reigns," the actors told him. The composer, Najib Cherradi, said that he would withdraw "for the good of my daughter." The newspaper "Handelsblad" gave the story the title "Tehran on the Meuse," the name of the gentle river that passes through Rotterdam. "I had already done three works about the Moroccans, so I wanted to have Muslim actors and singers," Timmers tells us. "Then they told me that it was a dangerous issue, and they could not participate, because they had received death threats. In Rabat, an article came out saying we would end up like Salman Rushdie. For me, it was more important to continue the dialogue with the Moroccans, rather than provoke them. For this reason, I see no problem if the Muslims want to separate the men from the women in a theater."
Let's meet the director who has brought sharia to the Dutch theaters, Salaheddine Benchikhi. He is young, modern, confident, and speaks perfect English. "I defend the decision to separate the men from the women, because here there is freedom of expression and organization. If people can't sit where they want to, that is discrimination. There are two million Muslims in Holland, and they want our tradition to become public, everything is evolving. Mayor Aboutaleb has supported me."
One year ago, the city was buzzing when the newspapers published a letter by Bouchra Ismaili, a Rotterdam city councilman: "Listen up, crazy freaks, we're here to stay. You're the foreigners here, with Allah on my side I'm not afraid of anything. Take my advice: convert to Islam, and you will find peace." Just a walk through the streets of the city, and you know right away that in many neighborhoods you are no longer in Holland. It is right out of the Middle East. In some schools, there is a "room of silence" where Muslim students, who are in the majority, can pray five times a day, with a poster of Mecca, the Qur'an, and a ritual washing before the prayers. Another Muslim city councilman, Brahim Bourzik, wants signs placed in various parts of the city showing the direction to Mecca.
Sylvain Ephimenco is a Franco-Dutch journalist who has been living in Rotterdam for twelve years. For twenty years, he was the "Libération" correspondent in Holland, and is proud of his leftist credentials. "Even though I don't believe in that anymore," he says, welcoming us to his home overlooking one of Rotterdam's little canals. Not far from here is the al Nasr mosque of the imam Khalil al Moumni, who when gay marriage was legalized described homosexuals as "sick people worse than pigs." From the outside, it can be seen that the mosque is more than twenty years old, having been built by the first Moroccan immigrants. Moumni has written a pamphlet that is circulating around the Dutch mosques, "The path of the Muslim," in which he explains that the heads of homosexuals should be cut off and "hung from the highest building in the city." Next to the al Nasr mosque, we sit down at a cafe for men only. In front of us is a halal Islamic slaughterhouse. Ephimenco is the author of three essays on Holland and Islam, and today is a famous columnist for the leftist Christian newspaper "Trouw." He has the best perspective for understanding a city that, perhaps even more than Amsterdam, embodies the tragedy of Holland.
"It is not at all true that Wilders gets his votes from the fringes, everyone knows that, even though they don't say it," he tells us. "Today educated people vote for Wilders, although at first it was the lower class Dutch, the tattoo crowd. Many academics and people on the left vote for him. The problem is all of these Islamic headscarves. There's a supermarket behind my house. When I arrived, there wasn't a single headscarf. Now it's all Muslim women with the chador at the register. Wilders is not Haider. His positions are on the right, but also on the left, he's a typical Dutchman. Here there are even hours at the swimming pool set aside for Muslim women. This is the origin of the vote for Wilders. Islamization, this foolishness with the theater, has to be stopped. In Utrecht, there is a mosque where they provide separate city services for men and women. The Dutch are afraid. Wilders is against the Frankenstein of multiculturalism. I, who used to be on the left but am no longer anything, I say we've reached the limit. I feel the ideals of the Enlightenment have been betrayed with this voluntary apartheid, in my heart I feel the death of the ideals of the equality of men and women, and freedom of expression. Here the left is conformist, and the right has the better answer to insane multiculturalism."
One of the professors at Erasmus University in Rotterdam is Tariq Ramadan, the famous Swiss Islamic scholar who is also a special adviser for the city. Some of Ramadan's statements against homosexuality were uncovered by Holland's most famous gay magazine, "Gay Krant," directed by a talkative journalist named Henk Krol. On a videocassette, Ramadan calls homosexuality "a disease, a disorder, an imbalance." On the tape, Ramadan also has comments on women, "they should keep their eyes on the ground when they're on the street." Wilders' party asked for the city council to be disbanded, and for the Islamic scholar from Geneva to be sent packing, but instead he was renewed in his post for two more years. This was happening while across the sea, the Obama administration was confirming the ban on Ramadan entering United States territory. The tapes in Krol's possession include one in which Ramadan tells women: "Allah has an important rule: if you try to attract attention through the use of perfume, or your appearance or gestures, you do not have the correct spiritual orientation."
"When Pim Fortuyn was killed, it was a shock for everyone, because a man was murdered for what he said," Krol tells us. "That was no longer my country. I'm still thinking about leaving Holland, but where can I go? Here we have been criticized by everyone, by the Catholic Church and by the Protestants. But when we criticized Islam, they answered us: you are creating new enemies!" According to Ephimenco, the street is the secret of Wilders' success: "In Rotterdam, there are three enormous mosques, one of them is the largest in Europe. There are more and more Islamic headscarves, and an Islamist impulse coming from the mosques. I know many people who have left the city center to go to the rich, white suburbs. My neighborhood is poor and black. It is a question of identity, on the streets Dutch is not spoken anymore, but Arabic and Turkish."
Let's meet the man who inherited Fortuyn's column in the newspaper "Elsevier." His name is Bart Jan Spruyt, a robust young Protestant intellectual, founder of the Edmund Burke Society, but above all the author of Wilders' "Declaration of independence," and his coworker from the beginning. "Here an immigrant no longer has to struggle, study, work, he can live at the expense of the state," Spruyt tells us. "We have ended up creating a parallel society. The Muslims are in the majority in many neighborhoods, and are asking for sharia. This isn't Holland anymore. Our use of freedom has turned back against us, it is a process of self-Islamization."