I recently returned from two weeks in Spain. As I have done while on other visits to that country (where my father's side of the family has its roots), I made a point of asking Spaniards about their attitudes toward Muslims.
Without exception, the responses were always negative, often bitterly so, and usually based on their fear that Islam was rapidly reconquering the Iberian Peninsula through immigration and fertility. Huge numbers of Muslims emigrate to Spain each year, especially from Morocco. As is widely known, this emigration trend is happening throughout the European Union.
These Spaniards say they're worried that before too long, Islam will reassert itself as the dominating religious force, due to the vacuum which the Catholic Church, now moribund there, has left in the wake of its steadily receding presence and influence among the Spanish people. Spain is a veritable treasure house of Catholic cultural artifacts — churches, shrines, convents, castles, monasteries, martyrs' tombs — but the vitality of the Catholic Faith is very weak indeed among the largely Catholic population.
With that depressing information fresh in my mind, this headline caught my eye this morning. It plays straight into the angst I encountered among the Spaniards I spoke to just a few weeks ago. Lord have mercy on us.
(Courtesy of Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch)
European Union set to outlaw objections to Islamic practices
If all goes as planned, the 27 member states of the European Union will soon have a common hate crime legislation, which will turn disapproval for Islamic practices or homosexual lifestyles into crimes. Europe's Christian churches are trying to stop the plan of the European political establishment, but it is not clear if they will be successful.
Last April, the European Parliament approved the European Union's Equal Treatment Directive. A directive is the name given to an EU law. As directives overrule national legislation, they need the approval of the European Council of Ministers before coming into effect. Next month, the Council will decide on the directive, which places the 27 EU member states under a common anti-discrimination legislation. The directive's definition of discriminatory harassment is so broad that every objection to Muslim or homosexual practices will be considered unlawful.
On April 2, the European Parliament passed the "directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation," 363 votes to 226. The directive applies to social protection and health care, social benefits, education and access to goods and services, including housing. American citizens and companies doing business in Europe are also required to adhere to it.
Originally intended to serve as an equal treatment directive for the disabled by prohibiting discrimination when accessing "goods and services, including housing," activist European politicians and governments had the directive's scope expanded to include discrimination on the basis of religion, age and sexual orientation.
Under the directive, harassment - defined as conduct "with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment" - is deemed a form of discrimination.
Harassment, as vaguely defined in the directive, allows an individual to accuse someone of discrimination merely for expressing something the individual allegedly perceives as creating an "offensive environment." The definition is so broad that anyone who feels intimidated or offended can easily bring legal action against those whom he feels are responsible. Moreover, the directive shifts the burden of proof onto the accused, who has to prove the negative, i.e. demonstrate that he or she did not create an environment which intimidated or offended the complainant. If the accused fails to do so, he or she can be sentenced to paying an unlimited amount of compensation for "harassment." [...]
The same phenomenon, a lack of interest on the part of European and also American public opinion, is apparent with regard to the semi-legal initiatives taken at the level of the United Nations. On October 2nd, the UN Human Rights Council approved a free speech resolution, co-sponsored by the US and Egypt, which criticizes "negative racial and religious stereotyping." American diplomats said the decision to co-sponsor the resolution was part of America's effort to "reach out to Muslim countries." The resolution passed unanimously, with the support of all Western nations. Though the resolution has no immediate effect in law, it provides Muslim extremists with moral ammunition the next time they feel that central tenets of Islam are being treated disrespectfully through the creation of what they perceive to be an 'offensive environment.'