By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Such a bald statement of purpose by a nation’s president before an international forum seems incredible. Yet even in British journalist Adam Le Bor’s A Heart Turned East (1997), a work of profound, almost supine sympathy for the plight of Muslim immigrants in the West, a London-based mullah is quoted as saying, “We cannot conquer these people with tanks and troops, so we have got to overcome them by force of numbers.” In fact, such remarks are commonplace. Just last week, Mullah Krekar, a Muslim supremacist living in Oslo, informed the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten that Muslims would change Norway, not the other way around. “Just look at the development within Europe, where the number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes,” he said. “By 2050, 30 percent of the population in Europe will be Muslim.”
In other words, Europe will be conquered by being turned into “Eurabia,” which is what Fallaci believes it is well on the way to becoming. Leaning heavily on the research of Bat Ye’or, author of Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, Fallaci recounts in fascinating detail the actual origin of the word “Eurabia,” which has now entered the popular lexicon. Its first known use, it turns out, was in the mid-1970s, when a journal of that name was printed in Paris (naturally), written in French (naturally), and edited by one Lucien Bitterlin, then president of the Association of Franco-Arab Solidarity and currently the chairman of the French-Syrian Friendship Association. Eurabia(price, five francs) was jointly published by Middle East International (London), France-Pays Arabes (Paris), the Groupe d’Etudes sur le Moyen-Orient (Geneva) and the European Coordinating Committee of the Associations for Friendship with the Arab World, which Fallaci describes as an arm of what was then the European Economic Community, now the European Union. These entities, Fallaci says, not mincing her words, were the official perpetrators “of the biggest conspiracy that modern history has created,” and Eurabia was their house organ.
Briefly put, the alleged plot was an arrangement between European and Arab governments according to which the Europeans, still reeling from the first acts of PLO terrorism and eager for precious Arabian oil made significantly more precious by the 1973 OPEC crisis, agreed to accept Arab “manpower” (i.e., immigrants) along with the oil. They also agreed to disseminate propaganda about the glories of Islamic civilization, provide Arab states with weaponry, side with them against Israel and generally toe the Arab line on all matters political and cultural. Hundreds of meetings and seminars were held as part of the “Euro-Arab Dialogue,” and all, according to the author, were marked by European acquiescence to Arab requests. Fallaci recounts a 1977 seminar in Venice, attended by delegates from 10 Arab nations and eight European ones, concluding with a unanimous resolution calling for “the diffusion of the Arabic language” and affirming “the superiority of Arab culture.”
While the Arabs demanded that Europeans respect the religious, political and human rights of Arabs in the West, not a peep came from the Europeans about the absence of freedom in the Arab world, not to mention the abhorrent treatment of women and other minorities in countries like Saudi Arabia. No demand was made that Muslims should learn about the glories of Western civilization as Europeans were and are expected to learn about the greatness of Islamic civilization. In other words, according to Fallaci, a substantial portion of Europe’s cultural and political independence was sold off by a coalition of ex-communists and socialist politicians. Are we surprised? Fallaci isn’t. In 1979, she notes, “the Italian or rather European Left had fallen in love with Khomeini just as now it has fallen in love with Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and Arafat.”
Considerably less intemperate than her last book on the topic of radical Islam, the volcanically angry The Rage and the Pride, The Force of Reason is despairing, but often surprisingly funny. (“The rage and the pride have married and produced a sturdy son: the disdain,” she writes with characteristic wit.) And, Fallaci being Fallaci, it is occasionally over the top and will no doubt be deeply offensive to many, particularly when, in a postscript the book might have been better off without, she claims that there is no such thing as moderate Islam. Nonetheless, the voice and warmth and humor of the author light up its pages, particularly when she takes a leaf out of Saul Bellow’s Herzog by firing off impassioned letters to the famous both living and dead. She is savage about the Left, the “Peace” movement (war is a fundamental, if regrettable, condition of life, she states), the Catholic Church, the media and, of course, Islam itself, which she considers theological totalitarianism and a deadly threat to the world. She is much more optimistic about America than Europe, citing the bravery of New Yorkers who celebrated New Year’s Eve in Times Square despite widely publicized terrorism threats, but here one feels that she is clutching at straws. Though Fallaci now lives in New York, little amity has been extended to her by her peers since the post-9/11 publication of The Rage and the Pride, and she remains almost as much of a media pariah here as she does in Europe. The major difference is that we’re not putting her on trial.