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Islam and the Future of Europe

To celebrate New Year’s Eve in 2017, German authorities sounded more like the vice cops who roam the streets of a few Muslim-majority nations: They created safety zones for women in order to protect them from the thousands of Muslim men who descend on such festivities like packs of wolves looking for prey. Memories of what happened in Cologne in 2015, when something like 1,200 women were sexually assaulted and robbed in the heart of the city, had traumatized a nation—indeed a continent—that was already in the process of figuring out how to deal with the disruptive powers of Islamic traditions that are, for the most part, alien and antithetical to modern European values.

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A Dangerous Couple: The Story of Adam and Eve

For the longest time, ever since my early childhood years, I have tried to imagine the lives of Adam and Eve, fashioned, unlike the luminous angels, out of clay. The Quran tells us that, for some reason, Allah decides to create Adam against the spirited objection of angels who correctly predict that he and his descendants would wreak havoc in the world. In the face of God’s insistence, the angels relent and accept this order of things, except for Satan (Iblis), who vows to corrupt and lead astray as many people as he can get to. To do so, he asks God to allow him to live as long as humans are around. God grants Satan’s wish and the cosmic drama was launched until the end of time. Instead of God punishing the insubordinate angel, he allows him to embark on his nefarious scheme. The only consolation of this dubious deal, I was told, is that God never denies anyone’s request, not even Satan’s, his implacable enemy.

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Zineb's War on Islamic Fascism

In August 2011, in the midst of the Arab Spring, Zineb El Rhazoui, a young Moroccan-French woman, stood in a packed forum on human rights in the Arab world and launched a strong attack against Driss El Yazami, the president of Morocco’s Human Rights Council, blaming him for ignoring the myriad oppressions inflicted on human rights activists in Morocco. Zineb, a self-proclaimed atheist, had already an impressive number of activism credentials to her name, including being cofounder of the Alternative Movement for Individual Liberties (known in French as MALI), which became famous for challenging the penal code criminalizing fasting in public during Ramadan. She was a journalist out of a job, too, and she was upset.

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A Prophet in His Own Land

I just finished reading an eye-opening book by the Tunisian scholar Hela Ouardi, a professor of French literature who has waded brilliantly into Islam’s canonical texts, written by Sunnis and Shiites alike, and emerged with a striking portrait of the Prophet Mohammed as he lay dying in Medina. This picture is gleaned and stitched together from voluminous narratives, written over centuries, many of which present different versions of the same event. Since we have no surviving documents from Mohammed's lifetime or the decades immediately following his death to guide us, and since all Muslims rely on the texts Ouardi examines to build their image of the Prophet, this is probably the best that can be done.

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