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This blogspot was started by the participants of the 5th International Summer School of ECPYN in Chisinau, Moldova, August 24-29 2008.
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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dutch election results make formation of government difficult

A few weeks before yesterday's elections for the Lower House of the Dutch Parliament (officially the Second Chamber of the General Estates) it had seemed as if the race for becoming the largest party was between the rightwing liberal VVD and the left wing populist Socialist Party. In those final weeks the leader of the Labour party (PvdA) performed better than the leader of the Socialist Party in televised debates though. Thus it soon became appearant that the race would be between VVD and PvdA and the media of course focussed on this as well.

The focus on the race between VVD and PvdA naturally made it much harder for smaller parties to compete. All of the gains the Socialist Party had made in the opinion polls were lost to the PvdA and the Greens that were already dwindeling in the polls because of a change in leadership, support for budget cuts and internal conflicts, also lost many votes to the PvdA. On the other side many who had previously voted for the centre right CDA or the right wing populist PVV decided to vote for the rightwing liberal VVD in order to prevent the PvdA from becoming the largest party and the left gaining the initiative.

This competition between VVD and PvdA has paradoxically led to the fact that because these parties have grown at the expense of possible coalition partners, they will probably have to form a government together. In the results as far as they are now known (a 100% of the votes is in, but the exact effects of combined lists still have to be calculated), the VVD has 41 seats out of 150 and the PvdA 39. This means that the two largest parties would have a majority in the Lower House together, but these two do not have a majority in the Upper House, which is elected indirectly (ie by members of the 12 Provincial Estates). In order to arrive at a majority in both Houses of Parliament VVD and PvdA might look for one or two other coalition partners. Their success in finding the right third or forth partner may also determine the succes of the entire formation process, as it will be difficult to reconcile the electoral platforms of VVD and PvdA. Likely candidates to join a coalition are the centre right CDA which has recently attempted to style itself more centrist and the social-liberal D66. Whereas a VVD-PvdA-CDA coalition would have a majority in both Houses, a VVD-PvdA-D66 coalition would require a forth party in order to reach a majority in the Upper House.

It is no yet known whether the CDA will be willing to join the government coalition as it was further decimated after an already poor result in the 2010 national elections. Once a party that participated in almost every government and was often the largest party, the CDA has declined due to internal conflicts over participation in the minority government with the VVD that was supported in parliament by the right wing populist PVV. CDA fell from 21 to 13 seats.

The ECPM member parties Christian Union and the Reformed Party (SGP) have done rather well considering the circumstances. The SGP even gained a seat and grew from 2 to 3 seats. In the 2010 elections the SGP had already been close to a third seat and it is quite an accomplishment to have gained it now, amidst the media flurry that focussed mainly on the two largest parties. The Christian Union remained stable at 5 seats, although the exit poll had indicated a loss of 1 seat.

Even though we can rejoice in the fact that the SGP gained a seat and the Christian Union remained stable, the loss of the CDA is very unfortunate. The CDA is a natural ally for CU and SGP in issues such as freedom of religion, freedom of education, freedom of association and in issues related to the family and medical ethics. Even if the CDA is less outspoken on these issues, they were often able to withhold a government from more radical steps by participating in government. Whether the CDA will participate in the next government and what will remain of their influence now they have been reduced numerically remains to be seen.

In any case the process of forming a government may take a long time. Some combinations of parties that seem unlikely at this point may still surface. In any case the eight ECPM member party representatives in the Dutch parliament will undoubtedly do the their utmost to maximize their influence. Please pray for them!

The full result is as follows:
VVD (right wing liberals) - 41
PvdA (social democrats) - 39
PVV (right wing populists) - 15
SP (left wing populists) - 15
CDA (liberal-conservatives) - 13
D66 (social-liberals) - 12
CU (christian democrats) - 5
GL (greens) - 3
SGP (christian conservatives) - 3
PvdD (animal rights) - 2
50+ (pensioners' interests) - 2

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Christianity in decline? (part 4)

"High ideals were besmirched by cruelty and greed ... the Holy War was nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God", according to Sir Steven Runciman who was a professor of Byzantine Arts in the University of Istanbul and who published 3 tomes on the subject, the most important is A history of the Crusades (Volume 1, 1951) 

This article will be on the Crusades. I decided to write on the subject because I am interested in it and I disagree with mainstream arguments on their wars, and I also read the publication of Paul Crawford: Four Myths about the Crusades. 

The Crusades were military campaigns led by Western Europeans Kings and noblemen to re-conquer/liberate the Holy Land. The Byzantine Emperor asked for help against islamic raids and Pope of Rome initiated it. The fact what we think on the Crusades depends on the sources we read, religion, way of thinking, country we live in. 

Let’s make a quick overview on the Crusades themselves:

How it started: Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Comnenos asked the Pope for help for the re-conquest of Asia Minor. In 1095 Pope Urban II made a speech in Clermont in which he asked Christian princes of Europe to stop fighting each other and to unite in fighting for gaining back Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Muslims and assure a safe way for pilgrims.

The 1st Crusade (1096-1099): in 1096 the armies were ready. By 1099 Jerusalem was taken back, in a bloody way unfortunately as historians cite the event. 4 crusader principalities were founded.

Islamic resistance movements started to get organized slowly because of internal conflicts. Zengi was the first who organized a raid against Crusader principalities. Arabs succeeded to capture Edessa which was the biggest city for the Crusaders’ North-East fields.

The 2nd Crusade (1147-1149) had the goal to take the city back but was unsuccessful, meanwhile in Western-Europe, Christians recaptured several cities in Iberia during the Reconquista.

The 3rd Crusade (1187-1192) was proposed because Salah el Din (Saladdin) united Muslims and took back the Holy Land except many coastal cities. The German emperor died en route, French and English monarchs had conflicts over Normandy, Richard I Lion-Heart had many victories but didn't get Jerusalem.

The 4th Crusade (1202-1204) had for purpose to conquer the Holy Land across Egypt but because of lack of Funds Crusaders sacked Constantinople and this can be considered as the final breaking point of The Great Schism.

The 5th Crusade (1217-1221) also was to recapture the Holy Land across Egypt, the Crusaders landed in Egypt, attacked Cairo (1221) and failed.

St Francis of Assisi crossed the frontlines to talk with the Sultan. The Sultan was impressed by St. Francis and the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land was established.

The 6th Crusade (1228-1229) led by Frederick II of Holy Roman Emperor, made a peace treaty with European Sultan of Egypt and gained back Jerusalem without fighting.

The 7th Crusade (1248-1254) Mameluks led by Baibars defeated Templars in 1243, Louis IX, king of France organized a Crusade but was defeated en route to Cairo.

The 8th Crusade (1270) again organized by Louis IX, landed in Tunisia in the hottest period of the year, it was a big defeat and the king also lost his life.

The 9th Crusade (1271-1272) Mameluks were taking coastal crusader cities 1-by-1 so Edward I of England went for the defense of the remaining territories. Crusaders made an alliance with Mongols against Mameluks but Mongols came in small number then retreated to Iraq, then Crusaders made an agreement of Peace of 10 years with Baibars.

In 1274 a new Crusade was proposed but nothing happened, then internal conflicts weakened Western Christian states in the Middle East and Acre fell to the Muslims in 1291 and this date can be considered officially the end of the Crusades.

Well, in fact there were much more Crusades like for example the Norwegian (1107-1110), the Albigensian (1209), the Children’s Crusade (1212), Northern Crusades (1198-1290) aiming to convert Baltic Slav populations to Christianity, Swedish Crusades to Finland, Aragonese raids to regain Iberia from Muslims etc.

There were also Crusades to support resistance to Ottoman Islamic invasion like Crusade of Nicopolis (1396), Belgrade (1456), the liberation of Buda by united Christian army (1686) and other minor raids in the Mediterranean that lasted until 1798. 

Let’s get back to Paul Crawford’s work.

4 myths were listed according to what today’s children study in their history books on the military campaigns:

Myth #1: The crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim world.

Myth #2: Western Christians went on crusade because their greed led them to plunder Muslims in order to get rich.

Myth #3: Crusaders were a cynical lot who did not really believe their own religious propaganda; rather, they had ulterior, materialistic motives.

Myth #4: The crusades taught Muslims to hate and attack Christians.

The bigger threat to the Christian states and pilgrimages provoked the Crusades. I have mentioned the Byzantine Emperor asked for help from Western Christians but it has much longer antecedent.

Muslims conquered the Middle East by 632, the whole of North Africa and Iberia and a significant part of France by 732. Constantinople itself was attacked several times in the early Islamic conquests, Rome itself was attacked but Christians won the Battle of Ostia.

Within 100 year, two thirds of the Roman Empire became under Muslim rule and Christians were driven out slowly from Arabian Peninsula, but there was still a Christian majority in Egypt, the Holy Land, Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Asia Minor and Iberia.

Western Christians were busy to pull back Muslims in Iberia and protect their cities from Mediterranean muslim pirates, the sarracens, meanwhile Byzantines were busy protecting their territories in Asia Minor and the Middle East.

In 1009, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was burnt down by the Fatimid Sultan, Al-Hakim and Christians were put out to several forms of persecution. By the 1030s Byzantines gained a permit to rebuild the Church.

The beginning of the 11th century was a major challenge for Christians as Seljuk Turkish tribes converted to Islam and started their migration consecutively into Asia Minor. Unlike arab rulers they did not respect the pilgrimage of the Christians to the Holy sites. Pilgrimages during the 11th century were mainly armed pilgrimages i.e. protected by soldiers because of robberies and killings. On the millenary of Christ’s death huge numbers of Christians visited the Holy Land and lots of monasteries were built during that period. In 1064, Siegfried, the Archbishop of Mainz led a pilgrimage of 7000 people, among them dozens of knights, they were attacked and annihilated near Ramallah in March 1065 according to Jacques Heers in his book La première croisade, (ISBN 978-2-262-0868-9). Between 1085 and 1092 there were 6 bigger pilgrimages and there was no significant blast, only smaller robber attacks by Bedouins, according to Robert Mantran in his book A l'aube de la première croisade : le face-à-face des chrétiens et des musulmans. So we can see that European pilgrims at the time were conscientious they could never come back from the Middle East.

In 1071 Seljuks won the battle of Manzikert and the turkification of Asia Minor began.

By the time Italian and Spanish were counter-attacking successfully, Italians sacked Mahdia in Tunisia, Spanish Christians have consolidated their territories by the Millenium and started the Reconquista.

And, we don’t have to forget that 3 (Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch) of Christianity’s 5 holiest cities were in Muslim hands (today 4/5) so the Crusades were the first major western Christian counter-attack against Muslim invasion, simply a tool of the defensive options. 

The statement that Crusaders were motivated by getting richer was a popular argument, at least from Voltaire on.

Crusading was ruinously expensive for most participants and Pope Urban II at Clermont in 1095 urging Frankish warriors to embark on what would become known as the 1st Crusade does note that they might make spoil of treasures but this was only an observation on the usual way of financing war during that period.

It is not much different from what is known as ghana’im. 

Responding to the statement that says Crusaders didn’t believe their propaganda, it is untrue again. The rate of injured during the 1st Crusade was 75%. Most of the Crusaders who went on Crusades knew they could never get back home to their families so a deep and profound religiousness was needed for the soldiers to make this crucial decision. I would like to mention the statement of the 13th century crusader Robert de Creseques that he had “come across the sea in order to die for God in the Holy Land” and he died soon in a battle.

It is difficult for individualistic European societies and modern people to understand that most crusaders were motivated by a desire to please God, expiate their sins and put their lives at the service of the people love but also for the people they don’t like. 

And just to repeat and clarify Muslims started the conquests, within 100 years large territories were taken from Christian authorities, dozens of cities sacked and lots of tribes and regions converted to occupiers’ religion.

Muslims learnt to respect Christian pilgrims’ visits to the Holy Land. They had to make a difference between occupying western Christians and local Christians, Egyptian Coptic Christians fought on the side of Muslims although they were 2nd grade citizens for 5 centuries.

One more thing to know, most writings in the Arab world on Crusades until the 19th century were written by Arab Christians and most of them were positive according to Jonathan Riley-Smith as he wrote in his book: The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam. 

The myths denied and explained, let me present the importance of the Crusades on the life in the Europe of the Middle Ages. 

The Crusades brought about results of which the popes had never dreamed, and which were perhaps the most, important of all. They re-established traffic between the East and West, which, after having been suspended for several centuries, was then resumed with even greater energy; they were the means of bringing from the depths of their respective provinces and introducing into the most civilized Asiatic countries Western knights, to whom a new world was thus revealed, and who returned to their native land filled with novel ideas... If, indeed, the Christian civilization of Europe has become universal culture, in the highest sense, the glory redounds, in no small measure, to the Crusades."

According to Crusades in The New Catholic Encyclopedia, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1966, Vol. IV, p. 508. 

Crusaders had many effects on different levels of society, economy and scientific life:

-social: there are 3 characteristics that can be common in the description of the Crusaders in the Middle Ages scriptures: piety, pugnacity and greed. The Crusading spirit was still seen as a heroic act and the Crusading campaigns, defense of Christians and Christian interests was still going on until 1798. Crusading leaders, especially Richard I Lion-heart and Louis IX of France, who were seen by their enemies as men of integrity and valor.

-political: Western Europeans especially Frankish came to the Middle East in big numbers and ruled over the Holy Land for long decades, but the important was the political opening of the continent, it was no more isolated as before. 

-cultural: many contemporary Arab and Muslim but even western thinkers blame them for the decline of the Arabs’ scientific golden age. In fact knowledge was inherited, transferred to the West, destruction of the Baghdad library and the neutralization of Muslim intelligentsia is more related to Tatars campaign led by Hulagu.

Architecture and buildings of fortresses and defense systems to the cities developed a lot after gaining experiences in the Holy Land. 

-economic: transit roads and supply chains between Western Europe and Asia Minor became used more often which led to infrastructural developments and the evolution of trade. Maritime transit corridors were more frequently by Europeans, especially Venetians benefited from the entering into the Mediterranean which was a monopole territory for the Sarracens before.

New agricultural and irrigation techniques were brought into Europe from the Middle East and new kinds of vegetables and fruits were produced.  

-military: Crusader knights were fighting permanently, in attacks and in defending the Christian principalities. There are many techniques the Crusaders took from there like the drummers’ warrior motivation technique from Seljuk Turks. They abandoned consecutively helms because of hotter weather and sunshine.

New monastic-warriors societies, religious military orders were founded like Templars and Hospitallers which had for purpose to defend the weak, the children, the women and the pilgrims against “infidels”.  

But we also have to recognize there were very harsh mistakes and crimes committed on the battlefields and in the sieges of towns and the Pope John Paul II asked for apology for these acts of horror in the Church of St. John the Baptist, now the Umayyad Mosque. Another very negative effect is the rise of tensions between Christians caused by the 4th Crusade, during which Catholics established a kingdom in Constantinople.

Crusades by Western Europeans were seen as pirate campaigns by Orthodox Christians,  this has contributed to the losses of the last Crusades and the lack of confidence of local Christians (Coptic Orthodox for example) towards Western Christians. 

Is the subject actual to talk about? 

The subject is still very timely. I have written on the persecution of Christians in muslim countries, the loss of identity in Western Europe and the islamization of Europe.

Islamism is rising since the fall of communism, number and rate of Muslims is rising in the Middle East, North Africa, Caucasus, Western Europe and the Balkans.

In the UK radical Muslims name their opponents Crusaders, there was a radical group called Muslims against Crusaders (MAC) aiming to impose Sharia in the UK instead of the democratic establishment.

On the other side there are new extreme right movements in Europe which aim to free their countries from Islamic invasion and they put Crusaders as their examples in the accomplishment of the struggle.

The term Crusade is used by western new-Muslims and Islamists referring to western invaders and supporters of Israel. Bin Laden named western governments' military campaigns against Muslim countries Crusades aiming to message the need of Muslim unity against the West.

Meanwhile Christians' self-confidence is deteriorating caused by pacifist and leftist views, movements and alleged clergy scandals.

Ex-US president Bill Clinton made a speech in 2001 in which he cited a scene of Crusaders walking after the battle with blood to the up of their knees, he was maybe trying to give an explanation on the thinking of terrorists and alleged causes of “revenge”.

Christians' are being building internal ghettos by convincing themselves religion is a private issue. And Christianity in general is threatened by attacks from several fronts, in the mainstream media and in everyday life (workplaces, public sphere, street violence etc.)  


We, Western and Eastern Christians need to rediscover our culture, heritage and past. Then we can make it understandable for people of different religions and then we can defend it with the right reasoning from insults. We have to be proud of the history and the accomplishments of our ancestors and to commemorate the victories even if they are not considered “politically correct” and hurt the interests of feelings of neighbors or investors.  

The values the Crusaders represented and the religious-military orders set up to protect the weak, the children, women, seniors are needed in today’s individualist societies.

Pride and self-confidence of Christians need to strengthen again so Christians and Christian statesmen should have the courage to defend the Crusades (while recognizing the fateful mistakes) and should mutually ask for apology for Islamic conquests.

This is a subject that will be referred to a lot more in politics and publications in the near future.

Joseph Y.F. Potter

Budapest, June 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Christianity in decline? (part 3)

This is my 3rd article in the “Christianity in decline?” series and this is one is about Islamisation of the West. It is more obvious that with the actual trends, Islamic populations in Europe can become a majority within 20-30 years and in many western European cities and countries there is already a bigger number of practicing Muslims than of practicing Christians. After I read the report of the Barnabas Fund on the islamisation of the West, I decided to write on the issue.

“Islam entered Europe twice and left it…Perhaps the next Conquest, Allah willing, will be by means of preaching and ideology…Perhaps we will conquer these lands without armies (…)” said Youssef el Qaradawi (head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research) on Al Jazeera on the 24th of Jan. 1999.

“Islam entered Europe twice and left it” Well yes, Islam entered twice, both times with armies and had to leave it, under pressure of Christian armies. 

First they entered Spain in the beginning of the 8th century, arrived to France and were defeated in Poitiers in 732 AD. 2.5 centuries later Reconquista started on Iberian peninsula and finished by the end of the 15th century. As Christian population was treated as slaves, remaining Muslims were converted to Christianity or expulsed and mosques transformed to Churches.

Then, from the other side of Europe, Ottoman Turkish tribes became Muslim in the 9th century and settled in Asia Minor, they became a major power in the region by the end of the 13th century. The lands once ruled by the Byzantine Empire became consecutively under Ottomans’ rule. Turks entered Europe in the middle of 14th century, in spite of many great victories by Europeans, most of Southeast Europe had come under Ottoman rule by the end of the 16th century. The unsuccessful siege of Vienna in 1683 led to the visible weakening of the Turks in Europe and the Crusaders liberated Buda (1686) and all of Central Europe many years later. Those who were converted to Islam converted back to Christianity.
By the beginning of the 20th century, national sentiments became stronger in the Balkans and most of Turkey's European territories were lost but Constantinople (now Istanbul) remained in Turkish hands as it is  until this day.
Unfortunately, political interests were stronger than religious solidarity for European leaders.
The Islamic regime itself was abolished in 1923. But, the legacy of Islamic rule remained strong in many areas like Bosnia, Albania, the Caucasus and areas inhabited by Tatars, surrounding the Black Sea.

“Perhaps the next Conquest, Allah willing, will be by means of preaching and ideology…Perhaps we will conquer these lands without armies”

Islam was weakened around World War I, a weak Islamic (Ottoman) empire, Muslim countries under western colonization, socialist/communist ideology spreading quickly among poor classes and pan-arabic movements starting to spread in arab-speaking countries.

After World War II, Europeans decided to a make an economic union in order to make war with each other impossible, the Old Continent was devastated after the destructions of the war and the way of thinking and the lifestyle changed by the 1960s. Religiosity diminished on average, women bore fewer children as women’s role in the labor market increased.
Cheap workforce was needed; migrant workers came first from Italy and Yugoslavia then from Middle-eastern countries and ex-colonies (common historical and linguistic ties). Turks went to Germany, Algerians, Moroccans and Africans to France, Indians, Pakistanis and Africans to the UK.

In the 1960s there were many hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Western Europe, which was not a problem at the time. Fertility was lowering but Europeans were still able to maintain the growth of society, immigrants didn’t bring their families at the time and state welfare benefits were not so generous.

By the end of the 1960s, there are 2 dates that can be considered as the beginning of a new era:
-1967: 3rd Arab-Israeli war. Israel defeated arab armies which were much larger in number of men and equipment and this caused a huge public outrage within Arabic populations. The arab leaders and even the arab military did not fight in a disciplined way.
By that time the people realized the Arab Nationalist idea is unable to unify Arabic speaking nations and even unable to defeat a weak and poor state like Israel which was really weaker at the time.
This date can be considered as the new start of Political Islam’s strengthening.
-1968: riots in France against the traditional social model. Daniel Cohn-Bendit led a revolt which asked for sexual freedoms and a better world as I mentioned in my previous article.

By the turn of the millennium, the Soviet threat was no longer present, Europeans had the opportunity to concentrate on economic growth and they saw that immigration could solve demographic issue. With the introduction of the single currency, there was a general conviction that there will be no wars anymore and in many decades cultural and political unity will be obvious and multicultural society, like that of the USA was an ideal anyway.
The difference is that immigration to Europe was not a selected immigration, and rights exceed duties, immigrants were encouraged to conserve their traditions and customs rather than learn the language and habits of the host country.

Nowadays, the number of Muslims reached 5,5 million in France only. In Europe their number became around 30 million. The ratio of radicals within the community is relatively much higher than in other communities and this is only one source for the conflicts between them and the host societies.
The tensions between Muslim immigrants and local people and the rise-up of extreme right movements in Europe are because of many factors, many examples just for better understanding:
  • Demographics: their number is growing much faster than other communities because fertility of Muslim women is 2.5 times higher than average women in Europe. Immigrants are gaining a bigger part in subsidies than working and paying taxes, according to extreme-right movements and several statistics.
  • Islamisation: hundreds of mosques are built in European cities, many aided by the “non-confessional” state. Oil rich countries are funding Islamic mission organisations to spread Islam among non-Muslims rather than spend on their poor classes. They want to convert non-Muslims to their religion and high, visible rate of women is wearing headscarf, many with hijab or niqab in the streets, a high number of men have beards or wear a djellaba, changing the image of the population in general. Muhammad has become the most common name for newborn boys in Belgium, London and Milan.
  • Social: unemployment is becoming a bigger problem as cheap workforce is employed rather than locals. In France the rise of the National Front is mainly due to the big number of unemployed among labor class. Another issue is the repatriation of money by immigrants to their homeland, in France the yearly amount going to countries by family transactions is estimated to be around 20 billion Euros.
  • Security: in France and the UK, most of gangs are made up of 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants. A part of those who could not get well integrated into the society and don’t have a job, feel themselves discriminated by the society. There is a kind of discrimination, fear towards them in any case. In German schools, Turkish gangs are causing a huge problem to those who would like to teach and study. In the UK, gang rapes are becoming a serious problem as their number is rising.
  • Lobby in politics: Muslims are influencing internal and external politics of the host country. They are an important voter base as their number is rising and they seem very determined. Many politicians, for example Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder campaigned for the accession of Turkey to the EU to gain more Muslim votes. Parliaments and local councils are introducing lots of reforms for equal institutional rights for Islam although it is a new factor in public politics and their number is still much smaller. 

Getting back to the report, the islamisaton of the West is achieved the following way. Muslims are immigrating massively to the West, making more children and converting non-Muslims with different means.

The extreme-left, which is weakened after the fall of the Soviet Union is finding a new ally in radical Islam to fight Christianity and the market economy. They are common in their hatred of the USA. In the French presidential campaign in 2012, the Front de Gauche, which built its campaign on social justice and “confiscation” of the fortunes of the rich, has invited radical islamists many times to its meetings.

Muslims have a mission: what many converts see in Islam is that they have a struggle and fight for their right (Palestine, Chechnya, poverty etc.). Islamic mission (Da’wa)  which has 2 parts: internal and external. Internal da’wa means to revive practice of the religion, external means to preach the religion and make non-Muslims accept it.

They are building much more and much bigger mosques to show their self-confidence and their strength, extreme-right and European radical movements often accuse Muslims of show of strength by the aim of having more and bigger places of worship than Christians.

They want to introduce Islamic Sharia as western societies became mostly hedonistic and based on consumption; they see that their style of life is a solution to drug-consumption, alcoholism and prostitution.
The Islamic groups are asking more openly the public to accept their Sharia law, in East London there are some districts where radicals declared Sharia to be the official source of laws (no to gambling, music or concerts, prostitution and drugs).
As the western governments recognize these interpretations of Sharia as representing all Islam, they are strengthening radicals and weakening moderate Muslims.
Sharia courts are functioning in Britain and being introduced to Belgium, they are operated from mosques and this shows the weakness of the national “laic” arbitration system.

They are threatening free speech and make a threat of violence, the situation here is similar to radical secularists and LGBT organsiations as they require respect, tolerance and objectivity but don’t always give it to others.
The fatwa against Salman Rushdie (1989) and the killing of Theo Van Gogh (2004) show that radical Muslims represent a threat to all those who openly speak out against them.They are a threat to freedom of religion, there were many cases recently when converts from Islam to Christianity were insulted and disadvantaged in several fields.

Islamisation is financed in many ways and from many parts:
  • Individuals: Muslims donate more intensively as they use mosques more frequently than Christians use churches. There are lots of cases in the UK and in Denmark in which people gained money from tax frauds.
  • Islamic organisations: mostly charity organisations which are specialized to help the poor and women accepting to wear headscarf and spread Islamic teachings.
  • Islamic States: lots of them are oil-rich, the Gulf States had a budget surplus of nearly 500 billion USD due to high oil prices, they usually spend the funds of acquisitions done by their Wealth Funds and on charity projects. Mostly Islamic organisations are those who receive these funds. The biggest contributors are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Emirates, Qatar, Iran, Algeria and Libya.
  • Local councils: an example, Alain Juppé, the current Foreign Affairs minister of France, also mayor of Bordeaux, sold 8500 sqm of land to the local Muslim council for a symbolic amount of 1 EUR. Bordeaux could have earned 677,000 EUR on market price.
  • Western European countries: In 2004, Nicolas Sarkozy asked for state funding for mosques in spite of the Republic’s secularist status. According to a report, 30% of the money the mosques received each year, was given by the Government.
  • Islamic finance: Islamic banking is as widespread in Western Europe as in the Gulf countries. Europe would like to attract rich Arab investors. London is said to be the most Sharia-friendly investment target in Europe

They are taking over education institutes and radical preachers are very active in western universities. They ask for separate prayer rooms in schools and universities and radical imams are let into universities, there are many terrorists who studied in western universities. Muslim girls are asked to wear Islamic dress.
Another issue related to this topic is the pressure on educational institutions to teach topics related to Islam in a way to give a positive image on their religion. Governments, educators and publishers who want to avoid being accused of racism and islamophobia often yield to such requests.

Their isolation and separation is making their integration and assimilation harder. There are many examples like the “gay-free zones” in the UK and Kreuzberg in Berlin which was a city-part populated by labor class and young leftists in the 1920s, today 80% of its half a million population is from Turkey. In France, the banlieues can be considered as the ghettos of the unemployed 1st, 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants, islamisation is spreading there the quickest.

And everything mentioned above is the islamisation of Europe only, I have previously written on the persecution of Christians in the Islamic territories. Just to close the listing of examples I would like to mention that the board of one of the most prestigious European football clubs, Real Madrid, decided to delete the cross from the logo of the football club to please Qatari investors (officially Muslim fans).
As the Football World Cup in 2022 will be in Qatar: 'Will England, Sweden and Denmark have to choose between the vertical or the horizontal line in their flag?', as a Hungarian blogger asked in his article stating also that this can be considered “Re-reconquista”.

“Perhaps the next Conquest, Allah willing, will be by means of preaching and ideology”
Well, it’s about ideology, preaching, money (maybe the most important) and the identity crisis of Western Europe itself.
“Perhaps we will conquer these lands without armies”
It seems very possible, but I guess there is a Christian minority in Europe that has a mission to counter this trend. 

What would the resolution be?

“Who wants to avoid suffering, suffers twice”, according to a proverb.
Many european leaders think that by bringing immigrants inside their countries, they will assure the supply of cheap workforce to the economy and save the pensions, this is irresponsibility. Many believe they have to let the immigrants into their countries as colonized nations suffered a lot from colonization, this is a widespread thinking in France which is partly true, but we have to know that the number of locals (Arabs and Berbers) in Algeria for example was many hundreds of thousands in 1830 and they were 9 million (!) in 1960. Most of the infrastructure and monuments in the country were built by the French and the Europeans. Europeans are really avoiding the responsibility after their societies are ageing and unable to sustain the retirement system and many others are accepting the fact the colonization had only bad effects and Christianity was a tool to keep people in slavery.

We Europeans have to get back our self-confidence, we have to be proud of our past, of our history, ancestors and achievements and we have to appreciate our religion and its Saints. We have to try to revive our older habits, respect of the old people, marriage, help of the relatives and general solidarity.

Most immigrants come for better careers, higher standard of living, but they don’t see Europeans have strong beliefs or identity; there are too many divorces, drugs problems, prostitution and solitude, so they prefer to conserve their habits rather then get integrated. Most Muslims are conserving their style of life, but Islamists require heavily from their entourage to get accommodated to their beliefs and habits and this is unacceptable. They have to accommodate to our style of life, but we have to respect our religion and past and they will see a positive example.

Funding of islamisation has to be stopped from the European states and institutions and from abroad and Muslims have to solve their finances themselves as other communities do. That will diminish tensions. Muslims have to realize they should not be advantaged even if their number will double in 25 years. There are few statesmen who have the courage to take the responsibility in this issue as lobbying is strong from inside Europe and from abroad. But we have to be an organized and determined lobby group as well.

Europeans have to understand the question of identity. An immigrant never becomes French or English or German if he arrives there older than 18-20 and spends there 30-40 years or if he becomes a citizen. If only one of the parents is european, the child will be half European. In the USA, 99% of the population has a second identity after or before being American.
In France there are no minorities, officially. An immigrant is officially named French if he has the passport, there are hundreds of thousands of children who are born in France and Germany and don’t speak the language of the host state and don’t meet with the host nationality except in school.

Finally, religion is part of the identity; this is something leftists don’t want to hear or to understand. Another religion means different habits, different holidays, different language of prayer, different role of the Clergy and different meaning of life. 

Europe must wake up finally, put Political Correctness aside and realize that Christianity is its religion.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Christianity in Decline? (part 2)

In this article I want to talk about the role and situation of Christianity in Europe and North America. I was inspired by Hungarian journalist Gergely Szilvay’s articles and the 5 year report on Christianophobia in Europe, published by OIDCE (Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe).

“485 cemeteries or places of worship were damaged between January 1st and September 30th, 2010. 410 were Christian sites, 40 Muslim sites and 35 Jewish sites.” former French minister Brice Hortefeux, November 2010.

This means that the majority’s symbols are the target of anti-religious or more exactly anti-christian attacks. This is strange for those who know that Catholicism has been the official religion of France for over 1200 years and more than half of the French are still Catholic, but we have to know that in France and in most of Europe, practicing Catholics became a minority.

But we may wonder how can the silent majority be discriminated or perhaps persecuted in extreme cases? Unfortunately the phenomenon exists, just think about women who have always been more in number than men and they are discriminated until today in workplaces, even in Western Europe and North America, blacks have always been a majority in South Africa and they were discriminated for decades under the Apartheid rule.

Anti-clerical movements have always existed in Europe and have strong traditions in many societies, but the events of May 1968 were the milestone of the current situation. In May 1968 thousands of students protested against Charles de Gaulle's government and against the whole society's status quo for a "better world". They rioted in the streets, blocked the entries to universities, their leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit pissed on the wall of the Sorbonne, they also burnt the entrance of the Paris Stock Exchange.

This better world meant more freedoms in education, healthcare (legalization of abortion and euthanasia), further steps in separation of State and Church, more freedom in everyday life (behavior between children and parents, teachers and students), sexuality (pre-marital sex), society and public issues (no compulsory military service, no death penalty), less inequalities, protection of minorities, protection of fauna and flora and "World Peace".

The separation of State and Church is becoming recently separation of Church and Society, the word Church is more understood as “Clergy”. And the new waves of youth politics, the “Pirates” are also harsh supporters of further separation of State and Church.

It is interesting that, as a continent, Europe is the first Christian continent then come the Americas, but since the 1960s the role of Christian religion, Christian churches is weakening and not only because of being old-fashioned but also because of verbal and physical attacks against them. We are living the age of the “dictatorship” of Political Correctness. How could that be?

There are lots of methods related to this issue. Please see below many examples:

-EU officials proposed to delete the Christian holidays from Christian calendars.

-Extreme-left anarchist group called for burning of churches in Germany, they were later acquitted

-Protesters against a blasphemous theatre were arrested by police in France

-Local council organizes an exhibition in which Christian personalities are sodomized

-Event related to Christian religion is mocked on TV

-Masses disrupted by sexual minority activists

-Religious (incl. Christian) symbols banned in schools because of immigrants

-Religious sites hacked

-LGBT march mocking Christians

-Ban of wearing crosses at workplace and subsequent firing of Christian workers

-Public personalities or even Members of Parliament threatened with death for backing traditional marriage

-Silence over discrimination of Christians in Europe and other parts of the world

-Forcing politically correct measures on religious schools

After checking many of the 620 cases collected, it seemed for me after a while that the process/phenomenon is systematic and somebody is behind it. Well, according to OIDCE there are 3 groups behind the acts: radical LGBT organizations, radical feminists and radical secularists. And from a scientific point of view, the OIDCE 2011 report makes the following subdivisions in the discriminatory cases:

I- Discriminative cases

-Freedom of religion (19)

-Freedom of Speech (12)

-Freedom of Conscience (12)

-Anti-Christian acts inspired by the discriminatory laws based on equality (10)

II- Intolerance

-Forcing out of public life (14)

-Acts against religious symbols (19)

-Defamation (18)

III- Acts inspired by hate

A parliamentary report indicated in the UK that the state is failing to protect Christians’ rights whether it is about majority’s rights at work or other issue and lots of specialists concluded the Christians are not making their voice heard. BBC general-director Mark Thompson has claimed Christianity is treated with far less sensitivity than other religions because it is pretty broad shouldered.

The real problem is the passivity of Christians in public life and the smaller self-confidence in talking about Christian faith and identity partly because of fear of attacks and partly because of the successful negative campaign against the Church (pedophilia, Vatican’s dark issues, rape of minors in religious schools etc.) and against people and institutions related to traditions and old aristocratic/national/Christian elites.

Mainstream media and contemporary arts attack these the most. The "traditional" churches (Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist) are weakened and new religions are expanding in the societies (neo-protestants, born again christians, islam, buddhism) which is a concern as religion is a part of the personal and national identity and most people are not aware of this.

We can see that the generation of May 1968 succeeded in their imagination, a lot of these claims were applied but the effects, combined with other factors, are catastrophic:

Europe has the most ageing (Germany, Switzerland) and the lowest fertility rates (Czech Republic, Bulgaria) populations in the world. Tens of millions of abortions were executed, number of population is diminishing even with immigration, more and more children are born without marriage of their parents (Hungary, France), and most of the marriages end with divorce (63% in Sweden).

A hedonistic society based on consumption is in place in most urban areas in Europe and a very large proportion of households and individuals are suffering from debts, consumption has been higher than revenues for a long time, governments didn’t prevent the economic crisis we are experiencing now.

Our mission as young Christian-democrats is to make our voice heard in major topics that are related to people’s everyday life. We have to communicate the advantages of traditions, traditional family, society, family businesses etc.

The people have to know the importance of religion and historic Clergy, even those who are not practicing Christians have the right to know what religion really means.

Freedoms in our understanding do not mean political correctness.

States in the West are failing to protect Christians’ rights because they are under the pressure of tiny but well-organized secularist and minority groups and it is our task to make the voice of the silent, “invisible” majority heard.

“Do the good and talk about it”, we have to show example for the society and form lobby groups in favor of those “afraid” to express their point of view.

It will be a long battle but it will be worth it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Christianity in Decline? (part 1)

In December 2010, a wave of street protests was started in the Arab World by young people who protested against dictatorships, corruption and unemployment. They succeeded to overthrow dictators who ruled their countries for decades, people became freer than before, exiled
leaders came back and had the opportunity to participle in elections. But, the artificial conflicts created by older regimes within the people remained and will remain for a while.

An example: On the 9th of October last year, hundreds of Coptic Christians went to the streets to protest against the destruction of a church in southern Egypt. The Church of the Marinab had all its permits from local councils since the 1930s and authorities started demolition saying permits are not valid. There are 53 other churches that are closed by the authorities and citizens (Christians) can not use them, Christian minority saw this as an attack on its identity and as a sign of lack of freedom just like pre-revolutionary era.
A march was organized from Shubra to the State TV headquarters in Masbero, the army used military vehicles to stop the march and went through civilians killing 29 people and injuring 232, in a few hours only. Official communication was that protesters had machine guns and killed 3 soldiers. There were no arrests within the military corps following the murders but there were among the organizers of the march.
This case showed the brutality of the military body ruling the country after dictatorship and its hostility towards the Christian minority, at the same time, public media stated the Copts were the
only ones responsible for the events. There were many left-wing and moderate Muslim parties and associations who condemned the events as mass murder, but there was no stronger pressure to judge the real responsible of the killings.

This is one of the bloodiest repressions against Christians in decades, there were many other crimes committed against the Coptic minority (Kosheh 2000, Nag Hammadi 2010, Imbaba 2011)
but only in a few cases were perpetrators brought to justice, in Kosheh where 21 (the youngest martyr was 11 years old) people were killed, 93 were arrested and after 11 months they were all released, except 1 who killed a Muslim by mistake, he got 13 years to spend in jail. Just to make you understand the scale of the riots, 4500 shops and houses were looted in 48 hours, the police was withdrawn from the city during that period and a very high percentage of the victims were Christian. It is alleged that many of the criminals are serving nowadays in the armed forces
of Sohag Governorate.

The attack of a monastery, the abduction of a Christian girl and forcibly marrying her to a Muslim, burning a church or a Christian's house or shop, riots by local mobs against Christians' shops and cars are weekly issues in Egyptian media and sources of conflicts between radical Islamists and Christians. This trend is made up of islamisation and radicalisation of Islam among several social levels, the resistance of Christians to appearences of islamisation and the involvement of the regime to strengthen inter-confessionnal strifes.

Why I am writing and mentioning all this is that a Christian civilization of the Middle East is in danger. A Church which was founded by St Mark the Apostle, which is 1950 years old, has 12 million members worldwide, 2500 churches and monasteries, is in danger, especially now as Islamists gained absolute majority in the General Assembly on the elections of 2011-2012 (extremist Islamists of Al-Nur gained more than a quarter of all votes).

Many times I wonder how can I/we help as Christians? what can we do to make people all over the world know about this danger? How can a massive Christian exodus be prevented? What should the effective reaction be when we hear a church is burned down? What ideas should be proposed/used to help them? Against who/where shall we protest to stop the bloodshed?
We have to think about these questions and act.

And the above mentioned cases are related to current situations in Egypt, what about Iraq?
more than half of Iraqi Christians fled their homes, fearing killings and abductions, 500 to 1000 of the most ancient churches were burnt down and US troops did nothing to prevent these.
What could happen in Syria in case Assad regime ended? Nearly all of the "freedom-fighters" are radical Sunni Islamists from Syria and the Arab peninsula.
What about Turkey? The government is always refusing to recognize the Armenian Genocide committed by Turkish soldiers, recent Christian converts are harassed, many spend years in prison for false charges.
What about Iran? we don't know if Youssef Nadarkhani (converted form Islam to Christianity) is still alive, he was transferred to a state prison and condemned to death penalty by hanging.
What about Saudi Arabia? having a Holy Bible or a definitely Christian book is considered a crime.
What about Pakistan? Asia Bibi, accused of Blasphemy for refusing to convert to Islam, is still in
prison after 2 years now.

Since the start of the Civil War in Lebanon which Christians lost, Christianity in the Middle East
is in decline. The roots of our religion, the existence of the history's first Christian nations is in danger, the actual situation is not unique, they were threatened before the Crusades and during Ottoman Islamic rule, but it survived and I hope it will survive the decades/centuries that are coming. But, our task is to keep the attention of our surrounding on them and help them in staying in their homeland in peace and dignity.

50000 Syrian Christians were made homeless by al Faruq Brigade in the last 4 weeks in the city of Homs, they are going to spend Easter in fear. So it’s time to get to action!

Happy Easter for all of you!
God Bless,

Joseph Y.F. Potter