My favorite warblog, Little Green Footballs, alerts me to this New York Times story about the Spanish government’s latest efforts to make nice with the nation’s Muslim community in order to ward off another 6/11. Back on March 11, you may recall, Islamic-fundamentalist terrorists blew up four trains, killing 191 people–so the Spanish hastily voted in a new Socialist government that promptly withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq. Now, there may be even more goodies to dangle. The Spanish government has now decided to subsidize the construction of mosques in Spain so as to lessen Spain’s Muslim’s community’s dependence on money from militant Islamic groups from abroad. That’s the unofficial reason; the stated reason is that the government boodle would give Spain’s Muslims the same financial status as the Catholic Church, which has received some government financing under an agreement reached with the Vatican in 1979.
Spanish conservatives are aghast at this latest proposal, noting that Spain’s Muslims, unlike the Catholics of today, are not generally not vocal defenders of religious tolerance.
But Spain’s intellectual elite just loves the idea of funneling government money into mosques. The Times reports:
“Jes’s N”ez Villaverde, director of the Institute for the Study of Conflicts and Humanitarian Action, a research organization, told Parliament recently that Spain must find a way to dilute the presence of ‘fundamentalist religious expression that is financed through its own channels, and for which we have not one single instrument of influence, contact or association.'”
Robert Spencer’s Djimmi Watch suggests that what’s really going on isn’t influence but appeasement:
“Pull up a chair and watch, folks. Al-Andalus is advancing with amazing rapidity. I await news of the reinauguration of the mosque of C’rdoba.”
While waiting for the return of Al-Andalus (the Muslims’ name for Spain when they occupied it during the Middle Ages), I highly recommend this article by Lawrence Wright in the New Yorker (of all places!) on Al Qaeda’s efforts via the Internet to refashion itself as a “virtual” Islamic state whose aim is not only to revive Al-Andalus but to become a player on the international scene, as though it were a real country (thanks, Petrified Truth, for the link). That in turn, Wright says, could encourage even more of the kind of “negotiations” that Spain engaged in when it pulled its troops out of Iraq–and in turn even more threats of terrorism designed to encourage further “negotations.” Wright writes:
“As long as Al Qaeda is seen as being an irrational, unyielding death cult, the only response is to destroy it. But if Al Qaeda–amorphous as that entity has become–has evolved into something like a virtual Islamist state that is trying to find a permanent place for itself in the actual world, then the prospect of future negotiations is not out of the question, however unlikely or repellent that may sound to Americans. After all, the Spanish government has brokered truces with ETA [the Basque terrorist organization], which has killed four times as many people in Spain as Al Qaeda has, and the accelerated withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq following the train bombings has already set a precedent for accommodation, which was quickly followed by the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Last year, Germany paid a six-million-dollar ransom to Algerian terrorists, and the Philippines recently pulled its fifty troops out of Iraq in order to save a hostage from being beheaded.
“On July 21st, immediately after the Philippine hostage was freed, new warnings appeared on the Internet, from a body called the Tawhid Islamic Group, promising terror attacks against Poland and Bulgaria unless they withdrew their troops from Iraq. Although leaders of both countries immediately rejected the demands, opinion polls showed that popular sentiment was turning against the countries’ presence in Iraq. Another threat, allegedly from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s group, Tawhid and Jihad, warned Japan that ‘queues of cars laden with explosives’ were waiting, unless Japanese humanitarian troops left Iraq. Also in July, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades posted a communiqu’ on the Internet ordering Italians to overthrow their Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi. ‘We are in Italy, and not one of you is safe so long as you refuse our Sheikh’s offer,’ the message said. ‘Get rid of the incompetent Berlusconi or we will truly burn Italy.’ The Internet warriors have been emboldened, although it is impossible to know how seriously to take their threats.
“Appeasement is a foolish strategy for dealing with Al Qaeda. Last year, many Saudis were stunned when the terrorist group struck Western compounds in Riyadh’shortly after the U.S. had announced that it would withdraw troops from Saudi Arabia, fulfilling one of bin Laden’s primary demands. The Saudis now realize that Al Qaeda won’t be assuaged until all foreigners are expelled from the Arabian Peninsula and a rigid theocracy has been imposed. Yet some of the countries on Al Qaeda’s hit list will no doubt seek to appease terrorists as a quick solution to a crisis.”
Count Spain among them. And at the rate they’re going, to paraphrase what a friend of mine used to say about the spread of militant Islam, the Spanish had better learn to like mint tea.