Growing concern in Germany and France about an influx of immigrants from cultures at odds with western democracy and individual freedom especially for women have led one German national newspaper to print a list of house rules of how to behave, in the wake of violent pro-Hamas, anti-Semitic demonstrations. In France Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission about a France ruled by Islamists stirred up a storm and landed just as the cartoon publisher Charlie Hebdo’s office was attacked with several killed in retaliation for a satirical cartoon about Mohammed. France’s rigorous approach to maintaining a secular society with strictures against Muslim woman wearing headscarves and veils attracts praise from some and criticism from others about Islamaphobia.
Henry Kissinger just before his death said “It was a grave mistake to let in so many people of a totally different culture, religion and concepts.” A mistake which Sweden is belatedly regretting and struggling to find a solution. A report on Germany’s migrant population produced by Harvard University warns that, instead of adapting to the liberal way of life in their new host nation, many remain attached to the austere conservative Islamic customs of their countries of origin. Women are often controlled by their menfolk, or face domestic violence. Some have ‘never even learned how to hold a pencil’, the report says. France has most Muslims, around 9%, Sweden around 8% while Germany and the UK have around 6%.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” “The law of unintended consequences – why things bite back.” Both truisms and both true.
Disentangling religion from culture is not a simple matter. Many of the more extreme fundamentalist Salafist beliefs -derogatory views towards women, homosexuals, non-believers, and an edict against integration – would not have gone amiss in the mediaeval Vatican. So they are part of the west’s past but progress was made and more civilized attitudes developed, though it did take several centuries.
I was trying to find an astrological timeline not so much for Muslim immigration as for the clash of cultures which has arisen in recent years. There have been Muslim intakes at various stages through the past century; with the 1970s seeing an uptick which was when Neptune moved into Sagittarius and Pluto into Libra. Neptune can be surprisingly fanatical in its opinions and Sagittarius with its 9th house rulership can lean towards self-righteous religious beliefs. Al Quada emerged when Pluto moved into Sagittarius in the mid 1990s. Pluto in Libra – should have improved relationships though what it did was shot the divorce rate up and expose flaws in cooperation.
The other date which seems more plausible was the late 1980s when the triple conjunction of Neptune, Saturn, Uranus in Capricorn was in place. Triple conjunctions which have only occurred 10 times in the past two thousand years can cover specific events over a decade or more. But they more essentially point to major civilization shifts, whose effects ripple out for decades and sometimes centuries to come.
In the 5th century AD, a quadruple conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Pluto followed by a shattering Uranus–Saturn–Pluto triple conjunction oversaw a huge civilization shift as the Roman Empire declined, Britain was invaded by the Picts, Scots and Anglo-Saxons, and the Dark Ages began. This last 1989 triple conjunction was nothing like as strong but it did have a particular impact on the UK, Germany and the EU – all with Capricorn Suns. I suspect we are still seeing the tsunami waves from that conjunction.
Al Quaeda which became the poster boy of the least palatable side of Islam was founded in 1988 as well. It in part developed out of frustration with western interference in the Middle East which had for decades propped up autocracies – and it campaigned for an equally totalitarian wish to impose a Caliphate on the entire world. Which to be fair is hardly dissimilar to Christian missionaries in South America and elsewhere trying to impose their faith on unbelievers.
None of which gives any indication of when this particular problem will find closure.
Hamas having lit the touch paper in Israel has set off a firestorm way beyond the Gaza borders.
As a non-astro-addendum I remember being infuriated when Labour Minister Jack Straw whose constituency was in the Midlands with a large Muslim population was jumped on for suggesting Muslim women dispense with the full face veil. The squalling this perfectly reasonable and sensible suggestion attracted was never satisfactorily countered. As neither was the Ayatollah’s fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie in 1989 which aroused great fervour in the UK Midlands. I thought at the time that should have been slammed down on hard – you do not threaten to assassinate people in the UK and the country has no laws against heresy or blasphemy. Any imams or others heard repeating the threat should have been straight into prison. As TV commentator Joan Bakewell said at the time. “When basically tolerant countries let in intolerant elements they don’t know what to do with them.”
Another imponderable problem. Any ideas do pitch in.
Die Bild: A manifesto in 50 points
1. For everyone living in Germany, Article 1 of the Basic Law applies: “The dignity of man is inviolable.”
2. For us, there are no infidels! Everyone can believe in whatever they want – even Santa Claus.
3. Anyone who considers our constitution and our legal system as a collection of non-binding recommendations should leave Germany as soon as possible.
4. Anyone who wants to live here permanently must learn German. Only when we speak the same language will we understand each other.
5. Everyone can demonstrate peacefully in Germany for their convictions. Free speech does not include threatening people, assaulting them, throwing rocks, burning cars, or celebrating murderers.
6. We don’t wear masks or veils; we look each other in the face (unless it’s Carnival or Corona).
7. Respect and charity sustain our free society.
8. Against the backdrop of the darkest chapter in our history, Israel’s security is a matter of German national interest! This means: Standing up for the security of the Jewish people is non-negotiable. Criticism of Israel’s politics is, of course, allowed.
9. We say please and thank you.
10. We gladly shake hands as a greeting or farewell.
11. We see the police as “friend and helper,” not as a repressive force or an enemy.
12. Many Germans eat pork. Of course, not everyone does. By the way: We have 10 million vegetarians or vegans because freedom also goes through the stomach.
13. The state has a monopoly on violence. Apart from the state-appointed agencies, nobody has the right to use violence against people or things.
14. We accept that our freely elected parliament sets the rules for our coexistence, which can be checked by independent courts.
15. Men are allowed to love men and women women. Whoever has a problem with that is the problem himself. Love and let love!
16. Even if someone feels neither male nor female, they are not persecuted or punished. In our country, citizens are allowed to think freely and live queer.
17. We don’t see social services as employers but as institutions that help people in financial need, people who can’t work. Not people who don’t want to work.
18. We respect the judiciary because it judges without prejudice.
19. Women wear bikinis or bathing suits in the swimming pool. And if someone wants to swim naked in the Baltic Sea – that’s okay too!
20. Women and men are equal in every respect.
21. Equality also in payment for work (we still have to catch up there)!
22. We discuss controversially and passionately, but we don’t insult those with different opinions.
23. We are tolerant with the tolerant.
24. And we have no tolerance for intolerance!
25. We only use fireworks on New Year’s Eve, so when it’s allowed.
26. We don’t burn flags of countries we dislike. That’s a crime!
27. We respect every religion, but we clearly separate religion from state.
28. Women who have affairs are not ostracized, let alone beaten or stoned! In the event of a divorce, joint custody applies to the children. It doesn’t matter who caused the marriage to fail.
29. You don’t have to be a virgin to get married!
30. Those seeking protection from political persecution or war in Germany will find it. Even those who have no claim to it can often stay. We don’t expect gratitude, even if it would be appropriate. But we do demand strict adherence to our laws and respect for our values and way of life.
31. We don’t marry off children. And men can’t have more than one wife.
32. Women decide – like men – for themselves how they dress, who they’re friends with, whom they love, whether they’d rather go to a club or church, whom they vote for, and what profession they choose.
33. Germany is a country of grillers. After a picnic in the park, we take our trash with us.
34. Knives belong in our kitchens, not in our pockets.
35. We pay taxes because we know they are the foundation of the state.
36. When a woman says no to a man, it is final and absolute. Anything else constitutes sexual harassment or rape.
37. We expect everyone who can and is allowed to, to seek employment and provide for themselves – even if social assistance or citizen’s income might initially be higher than the salary.
38. There is compulsory schooling in Germany. We believe in the importance of education and learning.
39. We give up our seats in buses and trains for the elderly and disabled.
40. Cheers, Germany! Beer and wine are part of our culture here. Respect it, and if you don’t want to drink, don’t.
41. How long or short a skirt is, is decided solely by the woman wearing it.
42. Those who cannot tolerate the caricature of politicians, celebrities, gods, or prophets are not in the right place in Germany.
43. The media question politicians, but we generally trust that the elected officials decide truthfully and for the people’s welfare.
44. Honor does not mean the right of the strongest.
45. Respect and appreciation are just as natural in social networks as they are in supermarkets or offices.
46. We try to protect the environment and conserve resources. Sustainability is the future.
47. Germany has a heart for children. They are not beaten but promoted.
48. Catcalling, like whistling or calling out to women, is harassment.
49. Boys and girls can go on school trips together, participate in sports, and swim classes together.
50. We love life, not death.