The proud nations of Western Europe and North America are bridling and brooding at the consequences of significant Muslim immigration to their shores. From Germany to France to Britain, large numbers of ghettos have arisen, riots have broken out, and gruesome murders of locals (most recently the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby by Muslim extremists) have created much angst and anxiety. Many European cities have Muslim-majority neighborhoods that are a “no go” to the natives of the city, except for armed police. European women can be expected to be harassed and abused while walking past Muslim youth wearing religious garb. The immigrants also are bringing sadistic traditions such as “honor killing” —if a Muslim girl has an independent social life, loses her virginity before marriage or tries to integrate with the culture of the adopted country, there is no telling at what point her family will think their “honor” has been soiled enough to have the girl murdered in cold blood by her own father, brother(s) and other male relations. Muslim unemployment is chronically high, and combined with the lack of education, serves to drive thousands of Muslim youth into the arms of extremist organizations that preach the destruction of the culture and laws of the countries that have tried to give them a new home. The free speech laws of these nations are openly manipulated to allow extremist Muslims to call for their destruction in public. European civilization is being used against Europeans; the likes of Hitler and Mussolini weren't defeated just for evil to retrench itself in Europe in a new way.
The membership of anti-Islamic organizations has also grown, and the threat of rising incidences of “hate crimes” looms large. New right-wing reactionary and nationalist political parties have gained ground due to the mealy-mouthed, facile and appeasing behavior of centrist and left-wing parties. All of the above seem to howl out for one clear reaction – the closing down of Muslim immigration to Western Europe. However, that's exactly what it is – a “reaction,” not a remedy. It is a hope to “avoid a fight”, one that is already happening. The true champions of democracy and freedom never run from a fight.
There are five major reasons why atheists must oppose both overt and back-handed measures to limit immigration:
1. It will be the Liberals and Secularists who will be Punished
If there was no option of immigration, what would have happened to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Taslima Nasreen, Salman Rushdie and others? Death by cruel and sadistic means. Because Islam preaches death to anyone who leaves it, being publicly against it can create a lot of difficulties. Still, the fact remains that the unrestricted Internet and press in Western nations provides a platform for tens of thousands of free-thinking activists from Muslim backgrounds to express themselves and create an alternative vision of hope as opposed to the vicious propaganda of the Muslim fundamentalists. Without immigration–people being able to cross borders and break free of barriers–the world wide web as we know would not exist. Tens of thousands of websites and blogs spreading secular humanism, atheism and rationalism to millions of people would not exist were it not for immigration. The politicians talk of “bridging communication divides,” but the grass-roots workers building real bridges are in no small measure, immigrants. The success of immigrant activists has given courage for native activists in Muslim countries to speak a little more loudly and risk a lot more for basic rights.
Any overtly restrictive immigration measure will in many societies be plainly read as “we are sorry we let you in in the first place,” directed at those Muslims who have already acquired citizenship. Western nations are showing a deep weariness of having to deal with the totally unforeseen “Muslim problem.” It is overdue for atheists to point out swiftly and loudly that its not a “Muslim problem” inasmuch as it is an “Islamic problem,” and that ex-Muslim freethinkers have blossomed and helped slow the aging of Western civilization. Once you stop applying the label of “Muslim” to people from diverse, unconnected nations, from Morocco to Bangladesh to Indonesia, indigenous cultural riches beyond the horrid Qur'an come to the surface and help immigrants enrich the new home country's own culture while integrating into the wider spectrum. It is the duty of atheists to remind Europeans and Americans that the puritanism and Catholic rule that ravaged them in the Middle Ages is what plagues the Muslims today, and it is possible for secularism and democracy to triumph over Islam just as the Renaissance and scientific revolution did wonders for Western civilization. However, as with puritanism, it will take a lot of time.
2. It will make the World a Battlefield
Keep the “Muslims” in one part of the world - as if there is such a thing. Last I checked, more than fifty nations have Muslim majorities, and the number with significant Muslim populations exceeds a hundred. You cannot confine 1.5 billion people to one part of the planet and expect that to be the end of the story. Limiting immigration justifies the “us versus them” mentality that the Muslim leaders–from the militarist tyrants and oil-fattened royals to the 'official' mullahs and unofficial, rag-tag hate-mongers of the various militias–want to cultivate. It is one thing to oppose Turkish membership into the European Union, but it is another to want the Turks who have lived for decades in Germany to move to Turkey. The former strengthens Recip Tayyip Erdogan's Islamofascist regime, while the latter makes him politically invincible and de-legitimizes a century of Turkish liberalism and modernization.
Anti-Sharia popular movements are taking to the streets across Turkey, Iran, Tunisia and Egypt, which could not have happened without the development of the East-West cultural connection through the broad networking of immigrants. These will die instantly if Western nations make immigration a greater web of obstacles than it already is. Atheism and secular humanism are growing rapidly in African and Asian countries – it is just not easy to talk about it openly or declare it in a census. That is because when it comes to religion, there is no sense of “rule of law” in most, if not all developing countries. You will face reprisals and violence, and there will be no legal recourse for justice. Which is why many millions aspire watch their immigrant brethren with fascination everyday as they can speak freely in Canada, United States and Germany and expect the protection of their fellow citizens, police and courts. Immigration allows us to give greater importance to the entire human race rather than nations identified by the division of real estate.
3. Reform in “Muslim” society will be Made Impossible
If one thinks it is frustratingly hard to try to extract even minor social reforms in Muslim communities, it will be impossible to do anything if you start issuing policies that sound awfully like “we're sorry we let you in in the first place.” If you feel anger and frustration at hearing Muslim women protesting for their right to wear the horrid burkha, consider that these women don't even get the experience of opening their mouths for any issue concerning their lives in their home countries. The best they could hope for many a year there was to either chant “Death to Israel” or “Death to America.” Before you lose your patience at the overtly-defensive and resentful Muslim leaders who seem to hate their adopted countries, please bear in mind that this is the first time in their existence that Muslims are getting a chance to feel anything aside from total emasculation at the hands of dictators and mullahs. If the Muslims refuse to change their views about “honor killings,” consider that this is the first time a Muslim woman can approach the police and be confident of rescue, justice, and any simple help from her non-Muslim neighbors. For every Muslim woman who is victimized in the medieval barbarism of Islam, there are ten who are speaking up loudly and repeatedly against these atrocities, and probably a full hundred who are rejecting various levels of religious instruction controlling their lives.
Integration can take a while; nations are molded over centuries, not decades. It was a full three to four centuries before the Europeans who had migrated to American shores felt “independent” enough to break from the British Empire, and even then, half of their ranks left for Canada. Facing radical cultural differences is difficult for any person, and the first and second generations retreat into religious and cultural shells as a result. However, integration eventually happens, and it has actually never been smoother than it is today.
4. Blood Spilled Must not be in Vain
From the murder of innocent civilians to the rape of women by Muslim extremists, Islam presents a moral crisis in Western countries. But it is nowhere as bad as what happened as a result of the West’s slumber during the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany, and Stalinism in Russia. The only way you avoid a “World War” with armies steamrolling entire nations is for communities to wage battles for “hearts and minds.” If a version of “Kristallnacht” had occurred in Britain or France against native Jews and carried out by the local Fascists, would Neville Chamberlain have still considered Hitler a “man of peace” to whom Czechoslovakia could be conceded? Would it not have made Britain and other civilized nations more understanding and accepting of Jewish refugees from Nazi rule?
As the anti-Semitic violence had not spread outside Nazi domains, it was easy for the Allies to ignore the plight of the Jews and treat it as a domestic problem of Germany. Islam has exported the terrorism it successfully implemented against the people of the captive “Muslim” countries. A decade of leaving Islamic terrorist groups in Afghanistan to deal with themselves led to 9/11, and allowing Hitler to do as he pleased with the population of his own state and its neighbors led to the Second World War.
So far, Western nations have resisted taking the route of religion – no doubt the remaining Christian fundamentalists in Europe would be thrilled to have their cohorts wage street battles against Muslims carrying the banner of Christ. Muslim terrorism in India receives mostly a Hindu response – which is basically rioting that kills thousands, and leads to further terrorism and the conversion of large parts of the country into entrenched battlefields. While China employs statist measures to destroy its problem of Islamic terrorism, the Russians openly encourage hatred of Chechens and Ingushetians as a natural form of patriotism. The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches can bring absolutely nothing to the table, considering their history in places like Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Croatia, Russia and Kosovo. Christian-fueled retaliatory pogroms in prevalent in backward parts of Europe like Russia and the Balkans–don't let that be the fate of Western Europe and North America. Today, the rumblings of religion-sparked atrocities and riots give atheists the mantle for speaking directly to all the communities. There is no excuse for complacency.
5. Atheism has a Chance to Resolve a Real World Crisis
Secular humanism or Rationalism or atheism – call it what you like – but the path of reason is the only way out of a situation that, if left to the religious and bigoted, would lead to pogroms, hijackings and mass murder on the streets. Western nations are choosing to respond as responsible nations and civilizations are supposed to.
With Muslim immigrants in countries that protect free speech, it is finally possible to speak to them simply as people of reason, as pure atheists or Rationalists. Many Muslim youth find it easy to admit that they watch Taliban-sponsored videos on bomb-making and the decapitation of their hostages – that's one side of tasting free speech. The other side is the many more thousands of Muslims watching online and televised debates and scientific documentaries that expose them, for the first time in their modern cultural existence, to a scientific and reason-based way to look at the world. With parental and communal pressure, it is difficult yet for these men and women to admit they are deeply uncomfortable with religion controlling their lives.
Atheism must destroy the worldview that restricts us to think of immigration and settlement of people seeking a brighter future in religious terms. The validation of the division of the people and the world into “Muslim” and “Non-Muslim,” of “Dar al-Islam” (House of Islam) and “Dar al-Harb” (House of War) can only happen if you start looking at every issue in those terms. What about the “non-Muslim” features of the Muslims? What about their Bengali language, their Moroccan dress, their Indonesian cuisine? What about the passion for mathematics and the laws of physics and chemistry that may lie within their skulls? Do not ever consent to cover up wonderfully complex human beings with the same black burqa as the religious would have us do.
This is a challenge for all atheists – to begin talking loudly and honestly about the exact issues at hand. To help secular humanists from Muslim backgrounds to end the barbaric customs of their communities one step at a time. However, none of this will be possible if atheists do not speak up against both overt and backhanded schemes to freeze the arrival of Muslims to the free world.