Book: While Europe Slept - Bruce Bawer

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

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FP: Bruce Bawer, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Bawer: Hi Jamie, thanks for having me.

FP: I just finished your book. It was a fascinating and powerful read. I know the answer to this question, but let’s help our readers get acquainted with you. Tell us why you ended up writing this book.

Bawer: In 1998 I moved from New York, where I’m from, to Amsterdam. I loved the Netherlands – its tolerance, its secularism, its heritage of freedom and learning and culture. But in early 1999, living in a largely Muslim area called the Oud West, I saw another side of the Netherlands, and of Europe, that I hadn’t seen before, or even been particularly aware of. The Oud West seemed less a neighborhood than an enclave – a piece of another society that had been dropped down into the city and that lived apart from it and its values. Just to walk from downtown Amsterdam into the Oud West was to experience a staggering contrast.

I soon came to realize that Amsterdam wasn’t unique – virtually every major city in Europe had Muslim enclaves like this one. The people outside of them were living in a democracy, but the people in them were living in a theocracy, ruled by imams and elders who preached contempt for the host society and its values. They were against secular law, against pluralism, against freedom of speech and religion, against sexual equality. Husbands believed it was their sacred right to beat and rape their wives. Parents practiced honor killings and female genital mutilation. Unemployment and crime rates were through the roof.

Most remarkable of all, nobody was saying or doing anything about any of this. European politicians took a hands-off attitude. Journalists sang the praises of multicultural society. With very few exceptions, nobody in a position of authority seemed willing to stand up for basic democratic values.