William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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CHANGING FRANCE – AT 10:20 A.M. ET:   We have nothing against moderate Islam, but when a religion has a political component, and is the guiding force behind governments, it is open to fair comment.

The Muslim population of Europe is growing, and it is not reinforcing European culture and democratic norms.  The issue is especially present in France, whose politics may well be heavily influenced by Islam within 20 years.  This is a good, if troubling, report:

CRETEIL, France (INP): Every year about 150 Muslim conversion ceremonies are performed in the snow-white structure of the Sahaba mosque in Créteil, with its intricate mosaics and a stunning 81-foot minaret, built in 2008 and a symbol of Islam’s growing presence in France. Among those who come here for Friday Prayers are numerous young former Roman Catholics, wearing the traditional Muslim prayer cap and long robe.

While the number of converts remains relatively small in France, yearly conversions to Islam have doubled in the past 25 years, experts say, presenting a growing challenge for France, where government and public attitudes toward Islam are awkward and sometimes hostile.

French anti-terrorism officials have been warning for years that converts represent a critical element of the terrorist threat in Europe, because they have Western passports and do not stand out.

That cannot be emphasized enough.  We'll have that problem here as well.  Terrorists may not look "Middle Eastern."

In October, the French police conducted a series of antiterrorism raids across France, resulting in the arrests of 12 people, including at least three French citizens who had recently converted to Islam. Converts “often need to overdo it if they want to be accepted” as Muslims, and so veer into extremism more frequently than others, said Didier Leschi, who was in charge of religious issues at the Interior Ministry under former President Nicolas Sarkozy.

There are persistent concerns that French prisons are fertile ground for conversions and for Islamic radicalism; observant Muslims are thought to make up at least a third of the inmate population, according to French news reports.

COMMENT:  We've been told repeatedly by the Obama administration, and its Ivy League choir, that the war on terror is either over, or much reduced, or somethin'.  If you actually look at what's happening around the world, that happy, adolescent assessment just isn't true.  After 9/11, wiser heads told us that this conflict may go on for decades, even generations.  It is, like the Cold War, a twilight struggle, to use Kennedy's words, with moments of open warfare.  Pretty much like a good part of human history.

February 4, 2013