While Islamic State (IS) jihadists battle their way across Syria and Iraq, beheading soldiers and civilians, training children for jihad, their supporters across Europe demand "death to Jews" and call for the blood of infidels.
Now, it seems, some European leaders are refusing to fight back.
The situation has become especially controversial in the Dutch political capital of The Hague, where pro-IS protests in July involved anti-Jewish chants and a violent attack on a female journalist covering the event. As the Jew-hate worsened and violence intensified, witnesses and Jewish advocacy groups called on the mayor's office to step in. But Mayor Josias van Aartsen was on holiday; and his deputy, left in charge, found no reason to intervene.
Residents of The Hague, however, felt otherwise: on Aug. 10, a group calling itself "Pro-Patria" staged its own "freedom march" through the same largely Muslim neighborhood (the Schilderswijk) where the pro-IS demonstrations had been held,. The aim, according to one organizer, was to show "that this so-called Sharia-triangle is still Dutch land, where Dutch laws and rules prevail." (The Schilderswijk has been referred to as the "Sharia triangle" frequently in the Dutch press.)
It was, perhaps, a naively optimistic notion: no sooner had the demonstration started than pro-IS residents began attacking, throwing stones and starting fistfights. Six people were arrested.
Mayor van Aartsen, still vacationing in France, did nothing.
Now, van Aartsen has been called back to The Hague to justify his response (or lack of one) just as yet another anti-IS, pro-freedom march is being planned in the Schilderswijk. But this one, he says, goes too far. "No more protests against radical Islam in the Schilderswijk," he declared on his return to The Hague on Thursday. "Too provocative."
In other words, Muslim radicals calling for the death of Dutch non-Muslims, the gassing of Jews – this, Mayor van Aartsen finds acceptable behavior. But a protest against such speech is not: too much violence could ensue. "Ban it," he says, as if to suggest that by banning mini-skirts, you can soon be rid, too, of rape.
Van Aartsen is by no means the only culprit. Efforts to keep from "offending" Muslims are common now throughout Europe , where Christmas celebrations are curtailed and art museums have been known to censor works potentially "distressing" to Muslims. And earlier this week, officials removed a plaque marking the Belfast birthplace of former Israeli president Chaim Herzog "due to a spate of attacks."
Really? Is this how we respond to brutal violence, to racism, to threats on our homes and lives and values? Or has Europe already lost sight of what those values mean, and why they matter?