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A Europe We Can Believe In : the Paris Statement “These Lands Are Our Home; We Have No Other” *****


From the British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton and other European intellectuals, the so-called Paris Statement regarding the current malaise of Europe and what must be done to overset it. ( “We ask all Europeans to join us in rejecting the utopian fantasy of a multicultural world without borders”)from a long and heartfelt document which deserves to be read and pondered in its entirety:
1. Europe belongs to us, and we belong to Europe. These lands are our home; we have no other. The reasons we hold Europe dear exceed our ability to explain or justify our loyalty. It is a matter of shared histories, hopes and loves. It is a matter of accustomed ways, of moments of pathos and pain. It is a matter of inspiring experiences of reconciliation and the promise of a shared future. Ordinary landscapes and events are charged with special meaning—for us, but not for others. Home is a place where things are familiar, and where we are recognized, however far we have wandered. This is the real Europe, our precious and irreplaceable civilization.
Europe is our home.
2. Europe, in all its richness and greatness, is threatened by a false understanding of itself. This false Europe imagines itself as a fulfilment of our civilization, but in truth it will confiscate our home. It appeals to exaggerations and distortions of Europe’s authentic virtues while remaining blind to its own vices. Complacently trading in one-sided caricatures of our history, this false Europe is invincibly prejudiced against the past. Its proponents are orphans by choice, and they presume that to be an orphan—to be homeless—is a noble achievement. In this way, the false Europe praises itself as the forerunner of a universal community that is neither universal nor a community.
A false Europe threatens us.
3. The patrons of the false Europe are bewitched by superstitions of inevitable progress. They believe that History is on their side, and this faith makes them haughty and disdainful, unable to acknowledge the defects in the post-national, post-cultural world they are constructing. Moreover, they are ignorant of the true sources of the humane decencies they themselves hold dear—as do we. They ignore, even repudiate the Christian roots of Europe. At the same time they take great care not to offend Muslims, who they imagine will cheerfully adopt their secular, multicultural outlook. Sunk in prejudice, superstition and ignorance, and blinded by vain, self-congratulating visions of a utopian future, the false Europe reflexively stifles dissent. This is done, of course, in the name of freedom and tolerance.
The false Europe is utopian and tyrannical.
4. We are reaching a dead-end. The greatest threat to the future of Europe is neither Russian adventurism nor Muslim immigration. The true Europe is at risk because of the suffocating grip that the false Europe has over our imaginations. Our nations and shared culture are being hollowed out by illusions and self-deceptions about what Europe is and should be. We pledge to resist this threat to our future. We will defend, sustain and champion the real Europe, the Europe to which we all in truth belong.
We must defend the real Europe.
5. The true Europe expects and encourages active participation in the common project of political and cultural life. The European ideal is one of solidarity based on assent to a body of law that applies to all, but is limited in its demands. This assent has not always taken the form of representative democracy. But our traditions of civic loyalty reflect a fundamental assent to our political and cultural traditions, whatever their forms. In the past, Europeans fought to make our political systems more open to popular participation, and we are justly proud of this history. Even as they did so, sometimes in open rebellion, they warmly affirmed that, despite their injustices and failures, the traditions of the peoples of this continent are ours. Such dedication to reform makes Europe a place that seeks ever-greater justice. This spirit of progress is born out of our love for and loyalty to our homelands.
Solidarity and civic loyalty encourage active participation.
6. A European spirit of unity allows us to trust others in the public square, even when we are strangers. The public parks, central squares and broad boulevards of European towns and cities express the European political spirit: We share our common life and the res publica. We assume that it is our duty to take responsibility for the futures of our societies. We are not passive subjects under the domination of despotic powers, whether sacred or secular. And we are not prostrate before implacable historical forces. To be European is to possess political and historical agency. We are the authors of our shared destiny.
We are not passive subjects.
7. The true Europe is a community of nations. We have our own languages, traditions and borders. Yet we have always recognized a kinship with one another, even when we have been at odds—or at war. This unity-in-diversity seems natural to us. Yet this is remarkable and precious, for it is neither natural nor inevitable. The most common political form of unity-in-diversity is empire, which European warrior kings tried to recreate in the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire. The allure of the imperial form endured, but the nation-state prevailed, the political form that joins peoplehood with sovereignty. The nation-state thereby became the hallmark of European civilization.
The nation-state is a hallmark of Europe.
8. A national community takes pride in governing itself in its own way, often boasts of its great national achievements in the arts and sciences, and competes with other nations, sometimes on the battlefield. This has wounded Europe, sometimes gravely, but it has never compromised our cultural unity. In fact, the contrary has been the case. As the nation states of Europe became more established and distinct, a shared European identity became stronger. In the aftermath of the terrible bloodshed of the world wars in the first half of the twentieth century, we emerged with an even greater resolve to honor our shared heritage. This testifies to the depth and power of Europe as a civilization that is cosmopolitan in a proper sense. We do not seek the imposed, enforced unity of empire. Instead, European cosmopolitanism recognizes that patriotic love and civic loyalty open out to a wider world.
We do not back an imposed, enforced unity.
9. The true Europe has been marked by Christianity. The universal spiritual empire of the Church brought cultural unity to Europe, but did so without political empire. This has allowed for particular civic loyalties to flourish within a shared European culture. The autonomy of what we call civil society became a characteristic feature of European life. Moreover, the Christian Gospel does not deliver a comprehensive divine law, and thus the diversity of the secular laws of the nations may be affirmed and honoured without threat to our European unity. It is no accident that the decline of Christian faith in Europe has been accompanied by renewed efforts to establish political unity—an empire of money and regulations, covered with sentiments of pseudo-religious universalism, that is being constructed by the European Union.
Christianity encouraged cultural unity.
10. The true Europe affirms the equal dignity of every individual, regardless of sex, rank or race. This also arises from our Christian roots. Our gentle virtues are of an unmistakably Christian heritage: fairness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, peace-making, charity. Christianity revolutionized the relationship between men and women, valuing love and mutual fidelity in an unprecedented way. The bond of marriage allows both men and women to flourish in communion. Most of the sacrifices we make are for the sake of our spouses and children. This spirit of self-giving is yet another Christian contribution to the Europe we love.
Christian roots nourish Europe.
11. The true Europe also draws inspiration from the Classical tradition. We recognize ourselves in the literature of ancient Greece and Rome. As Europeans, we strive for greatness, the crown of the Classical virtues. At times, this has led to violent competition for supremacy. But at its best, an aspiration toward excellence inspires the men and women of Europe to craft musical and artistic works of unsurpassed beauty and to make extraordinary breakthroughs in science and technology. The grave virtues of the self-possessed Romans and the pride in civic participation and spirit of philosophical inquiry of the Greeks have never been forgotten in the real Europe. These inheritances, too, are ours.
Classical roots encourage excellence.
12. The true Europe has never been perfect. The proponents of the false Europe are not wrong to seek development and reform, and there is much that has been accomplished since 1945 and 1989 that we should cherish and honor. Our shared life is an ongoing project, not an ossified inheritance. But the future of Europe rests in renewed loyalty to our best traditions, not a spurious universalism demanding forgetfulness and self-repudiation. Europe did not begin with the Enlightenment. Our beloved home will not be fulfilled with the European Union. The real Europe is, and always will be, a community of nations at once insular, sometimes fiercely so, and yet united by a spiritual legacy that, together, we debate, develop, share—and love.
Europe is a shared project.
13. The true Europe is in jeopardy. The achievements of popular sovereignty, resistance to empire, cosmopolitanism capable of civic love, the Christian legacy of humane and dignified life, a living engagement with our Classical inheritance—all this is slipping away. As the patrons of the false Europe construct their faux Christendom of universal human rights, we are losing our home.

France: The New Collaborators And How to Protect France, Europe, the West by Giulio Meotti

“They are those who believe that Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and love and do not want to hear about an Islam of war, intolerance and hatred”. — Michel Onfray, Le Figaro.
Le Figaro just devoted an entire issue to Muslim women in France who are trying to fight radical Islam. They are journalists, activists and writers who want equality between men and women, freedom of expression and sexual freedom. These Muslims clearly care more about the French Enlightenment than many non-Muslims who advocate appeasing Islamists.
In short, France needs to start fostering its side of this cultural war. Even if it is too late to recover all of the lost ground, if France does not start immediately but just limits itself to “manage” this “state of emergency”, the lights turned off will not be only those of the Eiffel Tower, as happens after every terror attack, but also the lights of one of the greatest civilizations that history ever gave us.

A few days ago Abdelkader Merah, the brother of the Islamic terrorist who gunned down four Jews in Toulouse in 2012, went on trial, charged with complicity in terrorism. “Beginning in 2012, we entered an age of terrorism, where before we believed ourselves protected; it was a turning point in French history”, said Mathieu Guidere, a professor of Islamic studies in Paris.

Since then, France has faced severe challenges by Islamic fundamentalists in Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron is now trying to manage a terrible situation: some 350 Islamic terrorists currently sit in prisons; 5,800 are under police surveillance; an additional 17,000 have been classified as a “potential threat”, while since 2015, more than 240 lives have been lost to jihadi terrorists.

It seems that France has decided to accept what it might see as unavoidable: the Islamic takeover of parts of the country. This view is reflected in the very idea of a “state of emergency”. France’s lower house of parliament just passed a new anti-terrorism law, taking measures which have been in place for two years under a previous “state of emergency” and enshrining them into law.

After the murderous January of 2015 attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Macron’s predecessor, President François Hollande, officially declared that “France is at war”. Until now, however, the war has been fought only on one side, by the Islamic fundamentalists.

Although some scholars, such as Gilles Kepel, estimate that a “civil war” could break out in the future, there is a more realistic scenario: a country split along demographic and religious lines — the secular French republic vs. the Islamic enclaves, the “French 100 Molenbeeks”, from the name of Brussels’ jihadist nest.

France used to be regarded as a jewel of civilization. One of France’s great intellectuals, Alain Finkielkraut, recently said: “France has become for me a physical country, since its disappearance has entered into the order of the possibilities”. Finkielkraut, a member of French civilization’s holiest shrine, the Académie Française, was not thinking about the physical disappearance of French bakeries, boutiques or boulevards; he seemed rather to mean the disappearance of France as the capital of Western culture.

Under the assault of radical Islam, French civilization is eroding from within. And there are now large parts of French culture which are openly adding water to the mill of Islam. These have been just called by Le Figaro, “agents of influence of Islam”. Intellectuals, journalists, politicians, those who consider the Muslims “the new oppressed”.

The French essayist Michel Onfray recently called them “the new collaborators”, like the French who stood with the Nazis:

“They are those who believe that Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and love and do not want to hear about an Islam of war, intolerance and hatred… The collaborator wants to see only the first [type of] Islam by believing that the second has nothing to do with Islam. These collaborators are the Islamo-leftists”.

And they are winning the cultural war.

How can France prevent an Islamic takeover of parts of the country with fatal metastases for the entire European continent? “In order to disarm terrorists, we must disarm consciences”, Damien Le Guay just wrote in a new book, entitled La guerre civile qui vient est déjà là (“The Coming Civil War Is Here Already”).

France needs to stop talking with “non-violent Islamists”, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, and instead to speak with the true liberal reformers, the internal dissidents of Islam. The daily newspaper Le Figaro recently devoted an entire issue to Muslim women in France who are trying to fight radical Islam. They are journalists, activists and writers who want equality between men and women, freedom of expression and sexual freedom. These Muslims clearly care more about the French Enlightenment than many non-Muslims who advocate appeasing Islamists.

France also needs to close its borders to mass immigration and select new arrivals on the basis of their willingness to retain the present culture of France, and to abandon multiculturalism in favor of respect for a plurality of faiths in the public space. That means rethinking the phony French secularism, which is aggressive against Catholicism but weak and passive with Islam.

France needs to close the Salafist mosques and ban the preaching of radical imams who incite Muslim communities against the “infidels” and urge Muslims to separate from the rest of the population.

A Visit to Tivoli By Bruce Bawer

Smack dab in the center of Copenhagen is an amusement park called Tivoli. First opened in 1843, it’s a special place. I always found Disneyland agitating, garish, and strangely disturbing – big and sprawling and fake and always insanely crowded, not just an amusement park but something more like a would-be alternate reality where you’re condemned to the hell of spending eternity queued up for some two-minute diversion surrounded by shrieking, ill-mannered children. (I’ve so far managed to avoid visiting Disney World.)

Tivoli’s not like that. It’s like a Japanese garden, modest and charming and meticulously put together. There’s a perfect mix of outdoor bars and cafes and fine eateries – a steak place here, a seafood place there, and charming restaurants with different architectures and atmospheres offering, variously, Spanish and Italian and German and Danish cuisine. There are rides for kids and rides for adults. There’s an arcade where you can throw a ball and knock things over and win outsized teddy bears and giant chocolate bars. There’s the smell of cotton candy and popcorn.

There’s a tree-shaded pond that’s lit up at night by multicolored bulbs You can have a world-class Wienerschnitzel with horseradish and baked carrots at a sumptuous restaurant overlooking the pond, then walk a few steps down a path and see a mother duck, on the small strip of grass between the path and pond, sleeping peacefully with her ducklings. You can put a five-kroner piece in a little machine by the pond and buy food to feed the fish in the pond. It’s sweet, not spectacular – compact and low-key, like Denmark itself. I’m exceedingly fond of it, and so are the Danes, for whom it’s nothing less than a national symbol not unlike the Eiffel Tower in France, the Colosseum in Italy, and Big Ben in Britain.

The travel writer Jan Morris doesn’t approve of Tivoli’s key role in the Danish psyche, saying that she finds it “childishly demeaning” that such a frivolous place “should stand at the very center of Denmark’s life and reputation.” That opinion appears in Morris’s 1997 book Fifty Years of Europe, and I remembered it when I first visited Tivoli many years ago. After experiencing the park for myself, I thought her criticism was unfair: for me, Tivoli seemed the perfect national symbol for a small, flat, pretty country inhabited by quiet, decent, pretty people who ride bicycles to work, whose most famous invention is Lego toys, and whose great author was a teller of children’s tales.

To be sure, even when I first visited Tivoli I knew there was a dark cloud over Hans Christian Andersen’s sunny little land. I had wandered through Nørrebro, the once-hip, Greenwich Village-type neighborhood of Copenhagen that was already becoming Islamized – this was in 2004 – and that will soon, I suspect, be a full-fledged no-go zone. (Copenhagen’s annual gay pride march used to go through Nørrebro; this year the organizers opted to re-route it, and insisted their decision had nothing to do with aggressive Muslim demands that the sodomites stay off “their” turf.)It was also in 2004 that a Danish journalist said to me over dinner that her countrymen, in the wake of 9/11, still didn’t see Islam as a danger to themselves, and she feared that that wouldn’t change “until the terrorists blow up Tivoli.” In fact, when it comes to these matters Denmark has turned out to be more sensible than many other countries, at least in terms of its immigration and integration policies and the openness with which Islam can be discussed in the media. To drive across the Øresund Bridge from Copenhagen to Malmö, Sweden, is to travel from a country that may still have a fighting chance to one that is obviously teetering on the edge of self-destruction.

Germans Debate Muslim Public Holidays “We have a Judeo-Christian religious character, not an Islamic one.” by Soeren Kern

“Germany’s Christian heritage is not negotiable. The introduction of Muslim holidays is out of the question for us.” — Alexander Dobrindt, a senior member of the CSU party.

“We have a Judeo-Christian religious character, not an Islamic one. Therefore, I do not understand why we are even having this debate. Instead, we should discuss something else: When will Christians in all Islamic countries have the same religious freedom as Muslims have here?” — Wolfgang Bosbach, a senior member of the CDU party.

“CDU wants Muslim holiday. This is the difference: AfD says NO! NO! NO!” — Beatrix von Storch, Deputy Chair of the Alternative for Germany party (AfD).

An off-the-cuff proposal by German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière to introduce Muslim public holidays has sparked another furious debate over the role of Islam in Germany.

Speaking at a campaign rally on October 9 for state elections in Lower Saxony, de Maizière, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said that federal states with large Muslim populations should be allowed to celebrate Muslim public holidays:

“I am prepared to discuss the possibility of introducing Islamic holidays. In areas where a lot of Catholics live, we celebrate All Saint’s Day, and in areas where not a lot of Catholics live we don’t celebrate All Saint’s Day. So why can’t we think about Islamic holidays as well?”De Maizière’s statement, apparently aimed at enticing Muslim voters, prompted a furious backlash from his own party and political allies, who are still reeling from the CDU’s poor results in the general election on September 24. Although Merkel won a fourth term in office, the CDU, together with its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), suffered its worst electoral result in more than half a century.

Party insiders blame the election debacle on Merkel, who they say has moved the CDU too far away from its conservative roots, especially on immigration. More than a million traditional CDU/CSU voters defected to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), an upstart party that harnessed widespread anger over Merkel’s decision to allow into the country more than a million mostly Muslim migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

North Korea Knowns and Unknowns We are in the middle, not at the end, of a long North Korean crisis. By Victor Davis Hanson

No one really knows all that much about North Korea’s nuclear or conventional military capability or its strategic agenda. Are its nuclear missiles reliably lethal, are they as long-ranged and accurate as hyped, and are they under secure command and control?

Conventional wisdom states that Seoul would be destroyed in minutes by at least 10,000 North Korean artillery and rocket batteries that are now aimed from right across the Demilitarized Zone. Such guns are said to be capable of firing 500,000 rounds within a few minutes.

As a result, South Korea and its allies are supposed to be veritable hostages, with no strategic choices in countering North Korea’s newly enhanced nuclear threat.

But is Seoul really being held hostage, and would it be doomed if war broke out?

In fact, no one can be sure of the actual size, nature, and readiness of the North Korea arsenal — or the degree to which it is coordinated and effectively aimed. Much less does anyone know how well North Korea’s guns have been pre-targeted by American and South Korean planes, counter-batteries, and missiles.

Seoul itself is a huge city of 10 million urban residents. Indeed, greater Seoul and its population of some 24 million are sprawled out over a vast area of more than 250 square miles. The idea that the North Korean military could destroy the world’s third-most-populated metropolitan area in minutes with conventional weapons is unproven.

Take the example of Israel and its existential enemies. The Iranians now claim that their Hezbollah proxies in Lebanon have targeted 80,000 rockets at Tel Aviv. Israel’s enemies brag that together they could bombard the tiny country with 200,000 rockets and missiles in a matter of minutes should Israel ever again go to war.

In the 2006 Lebanon war, Hezbollah and terrorist forces on the West Bank boasted that they had launched more than 8,000 rockets into Israeli cities. Israel claimed the number was closer to 4,000. The entire population of Israel in 2006 was then less than half of greater Seoul. Yet in total, some 40 to 50 Israelis lost their lives to rocket attacks in 2006. The rocket strategy of Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas did not deter Israeli military operations, nor did it much affect Israel’s strategic options.

Seoul may well be vulnerable to conventional artillery or rocket strikes. But the usual assessments that the city would be destroyed in minutes by North Korea and therefore the South Korean government is now held hostage in its strategic choices are probably not true.

We are told that China has few choices in restraining North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. But without Chinese money, trade, and technology, North Korea would today have no nuclear-tipped missiles.

Beijing enjoys playing dumb from time to time as it unleashes North Korea to threaten the West and consume American time, money, and military resources in Asia and the Pacific. In truth, China has as much leverage over North Korea as the United States would have over South Korea should it ever choose to set off missiles all over the South China Sea and brag about targeting nearby Chinese cities with nuclear weapons.

Trump lays the groundwork for a real strategy against Iran to begin. Caroline Glick

By placing the nuclear deal in the context of Iran’s hostility and aggression, Trump made it self-evident that no US interest is served in continuing to give Iran a free pass.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump initiated an important change in US policy toward Iran.

No, in his speech decertifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear accord it struck with his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump didn’t announce a new strategy for preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, or stemming its hegemonic rise in the Middle East, or limiting its ability to sponsor terrorism.

Trump’s move was not operational. It was directional.

In his address Friday, Trump changed the policy dynamics that dictate US policy on Iran. For the first time since 2009, when Obama backed the murderous regime in Tehran, spurning the millions of Iranians who rose up in the Green Revolution, Trump opened up the possibility that the US may begin to base its policies toward Iran on reality.

Trump began his remarks by setting out Iran’s long rap sheet of aggression against America.

Starting with the US embassy seizure and hostage crisis, Trump described Iran’s crimes and acts of war against America in greater detail than any of his predecessors ever did.

Trump’s dossier was interlaced with condemnations of the regime’s repression of its own people.

By merging Iran’s external aggression with its internal repression, Trump signaled a readiness to drive a wedge – or expand the wedge – between the authoritarian theocrats that rule Iran and the largely secular, multiethnic and pro-Western people of Iran.

Trump then turned his attention to Iran’s illicit ballistic missile program, its sponsorship of terrorism, including its links to al-Qaida, its aggression against its neighbors, its aggressive acts against maritime traffic in the Straits of Hormuz, and its bids to destabilize and control large swaths of the Middle East through its proxies.

It is notable that these remarks preceded Trump’s discussion of the nuclear deal – which was the ostensible subject of his speech. Before Trump discussed Iran’s breaches of the nuclear deal, he first demonstrated that contrary to the expressed views of his top advisers, it is impossible to limit a realistic discussion of the threat Iran constitutes to US national security and interests to whether or not and it what manner it is breaching the nuclear accord.

Spain to Propose Measures to Strip Catalonia of Powers Catalan leader fails to renounce secession bid, demands talks with Madrid By Jeannette Neumann

BARCELONA—Catalonia’s leader defied an ultimatum from Madrid on Thursday by failing to renounce his push for independence, prompting the Spanish government to gear up for stripping the region of some of its powers.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called an extraordinary cabinet meeting for Saturday, where the government will invoke a never-before used article of Spain’s constitution to reduce some of the wide autonomy that Catalonia enjoys.

Triggering the provision is intended to “protect the general interest of Spaniards, including the citizens of Catalonia, and to restore the constitutional order in the autonomous community,” according to a government statement.

Mr. Rajoy, who has steadfastly refused to negotiate on secession, had demanded that Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont abandon his drive by 10 a.m. local time Thursday, or Catalonia could lose some powers.

Mr. Puigdemont, in a one-page letter sent Thursday morning, failed to do so, reiterating his call for dialogue with the central government. He added that if Madrid didn’t sit down to talks, Catalonia’s regional parliament, where separatist lawmakers hold a majority of seats, might formally declare independence.

Mr. Rajoy called for the extraordinary meeting immediately after receiving the letter.

The prime minister must ask Spain’s upper house of parliament to approve any next steps. He is expected to have broad political support to implement Article 155. In addition to his own center-right Popular Party, which has a majority in the Senate, two main opposition parties have said they would support stripping Catalonia of some of its autonomy if separatists insist on secession.

Analysts expect Madrid to prioritize taking control of Catalonia’s police forces. CONTINUE AT SITE

World Away From Syria Islamists in the Philippines pledged allegiance to ISIS, devastated a city and built a model for jihadists after the fall of Raqqa Linus Guardian Escandor II

MARAWI, Philippines—On the third day of his captivity, during one of the most violent jihadist rebellions outside the Middle East and Africa, Ronnel Samiahan watched Islamist militants make an example of a fellow hostage who had tried to break free.

After dragging the conscious man onto the street and pulling his head up by the hair, the militants began sawing at his neck with a knife. Five minutes later, the executioner thrust the severed head toward the remaining hostages, warning, “If you try to escape, this is what is going to happen to you,” recalled Mr. Samiahan, a Christian local laborer.

Islamist militants took over this city of 200,000 people in late May, modeling themselves on Islamic State, or ISIS. Philippine soldiers, assisted by the U.S. military, struggled to reclaim it.

The Philippine military has struggled to defeat hundreds of well-armed militants who seized the southern city of Marawi in May. Photo: Linus Guardian Escandor II for The Wall Street Journal

Philippine authorities on Monday said two of the militants’ most senior leaders had been killed, including one on Washington’s list of most-wanted terrorists, and that it was a few days from securing the city. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday declared the city liberated.

The militants’ occupation—and the military’s siege—has left Marawi in ruins, with more than 1,000 soldiers, civilians and militants killed and many neighborhoods devastated by airstrikes. A few dozen militants remain in the city, the military said on Tuesday.

The Marawi battle shows how militant groups outside the Middle East and Africa are finding a template in Islamic State, not just as an exporter of terrorism, but also as a holder of territory. ISIS itself is looking for new beachheads having been pushed out of strongholds such as its de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, which U.S.-backed forces said they captured this week.

ISIS Loses its “Caliphate” Capital ISIS territory in Syria continues to shrink under U.S.-led coalition pressure. Joseph Klein

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias backed by U.S.-led air strikes, has driven ISIS out of its self-declared “caliphate” capital, the Syrian city of Raqqa. With its back against the wall and its jihadists surrendering or fleeing in droves, ISIS’s control of territory in Syria has been reduced to a strip of the Euphrates valley and surrounding desert. The United States Central Command held back from declaring complete victory, but said that “more than 90 percent of Raqqa is in S.D.F. control.” Land mines and improvised explosive devices remain, which need to be cleared before civilians can safely return. Nevertheless, developments were considered positive enough that Brett McGurk, President Trump’s special envoy for the global coalition against ISIS, reportedly left Washington for a visit to Raqqa.

ISIS had taken over Raqqa at the beginning of 2014. Not until June of this year did the U.S.-backed campaign to take Raqqa back get under way. Just two months ago, there were still about 2,000 ISIS fighters remaining in Raqqa, determined to fight to the death for their capital. By last weekend, a few hundred ISIS militants, mostly foreign born, were left behind to continue fighting, holed up in a stadium and a hospital which were captured on Tuesday.

The loss of its capital is a huge symbolic blow to ISIS, which has been suffering a string of major defeats since President Trump took office. Just as nothing succeeds like success in attracting new recruits to ISIS’s cause, its loss of its base of operations from which it had planned and directed attacks around the world spells failure. As Jenan Moussa, a reporter Arabic Al Aan TV, tweeted: “Game over for ISIS in #Raqqa. They lost capital of their caliphate. Same guys, not long time ago, bragged about conquering Rome.”

Some human rights and anti-war activists have complained that the defeat of ISIS in Raqqa has come at too heavy a price in civilian lives and devastation, which they blame on air strikes by the U.S.-led military coalition. A report issued by Amnesty International last August stated that the coalition forces’ “reliance to a large extent on weapons which have a wide impact radius and which cannot be accurately pinpointed at specific targets to neutralize IS [ISIS} targets in civilian neighborhoods, has exacted a significant toll on civilians.” Some activists blamed the Trump administration’s change in tactics, delegating more decision-making on where and when to conduct air strikes to lower level field commanders.

The number of civilian deaths attributable to coalition air strikes has been estimated to be approximately 1000. That said, much of the problem facing the anti-ISIS coalition is the same that Israel confronted in fighting Hamas militants in Gaza. ISIS concentrated many of its fighters in densely populated areas of Raqqa, using civilians as human shields and hiding among women and children who had nowhere else to go. ISIS used civilian residents’ homes, hospitals, religious sites and civilian neighborhoods as locations from which to conduct their military operations. As Amnesty International itself acknowledged, ISIS “laid mines and booby traps to render exit routes impassable, set up checkpoints around the city to prevent passage, and shot at those trying to sneak out.”

Despite these obstacles, coalition forces endeavored to safely evacuate civilians from Raqqa and out of harm’s way when possible. The coalition allowed a deal to go forward several days ago, under local tribal elders and Raqqa Civil Council auspices, to evacuate civilians by bus from Raqqa along with some non-foreign members of ISIS.

Europe’s New Official History Erases Christianity, Promotes Islam by Giulio Meotti

“The patrons of the false Europe are bewitched by superstitions of inevitable progress. They believe that History is on their side, and this faith makes them haughty and disdainful, unable to acknowledge the defects in the post-national, post-cultural world they are constructing.” — The Paris Statement, signed by ten respected European scholars.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière’s proposal to introduce Muslim public holidays shows that when it comes to Islam, Europe’s official “post-Christian” secularism is simply missing in action.

A few days ago, some of Europe’s most important intellectuals — including British philosopher Roger Scruton, former Polish Education Minister Ryszard Legutko, German scholar Robert Spaemann and Professor Rémi Brague from the Sorbonne in France — issued “The Paris Statement”. In their ambitious statement, they rejected the “false Christendom of universal human rights” and the “utopian, pseudo-religious crusade for a borderless world”. Instead, they called for a Europe based on “Christian roots”, drawing inspiration from the “Classical tradition” and rejecting multiculturalism:

“The patrons of the false Europe are bewitched by superstitions of inevitable progress. They believe that History is on their side, and this faith makes them haughty and disdainful, unable to acknowledge the defects in the post-national, post-cultural world they are constructing. Moreover, they are ignorant of the true sources of the humane decencies they themselves hold dear — as do we. They ignore, even repudiate the Christian roots of Europe. At the same time they take great care not to offend Muslims, who they imagine will cheerfully adopt their secular, multicultural outlook”.

In 2007, reflecting on the cultural crisis of the continent, Pope Benedict said that Europe is now “doubting its very identity”. In 2017, Europe took a further step: creating a post-Christian pro-Islam identity. Europe’s official buildings and exhibitions have indeed been erasing Christianity and welcoming Islam.

One kind of official museum recently opened by the European Parliament, the “House of the European History”, costing 56 million euros. The idea was to create a historical narrative of the postwar period around the pro-EU message of unification. The building is a beautiful example of Art Deco in Brussels. As the Dutch scholar Arnold Huijgen wrote, however, the house is culturally “empty”:

“The French Revolution seems to be the birthplace of Europe; there is little room for anything that may have preceded it. The Napoleonic Code and the philosophy of Karl Marx receive a prominent place, while slavery and colonialism are highlighted as the darker sides of European culture (…) But the most remarkable thing about the House is that.as far as its account is concerned, it is as if religion does not exist. In fact, it never existed and never impacted the history of the continent (…) No longer is European secularism fighting the Christian religion; it simply ignores every religious aspect in life altogether”.

The Brussels bureaucracy even deleted the Catholic roots of its official flag, the twelve stars symbolizing the ideal of unity, solidarity and harmony among the peoples of Europe. It was drawn by the French Catholic designer Arséne Heitz, who apparently took his inspiration from the Christian iconography of Virgin Mary. But the European Union’s official explanation of the flag makes no mention of these Christian roots.

The European Monetary and Economic Department of the European Commission then ordered Slovakia to redesign its commemorative coins by eliminating the Christian Saints Cyril and Methonius. There is no mention of Christianity in the 75,000 words of the aborted draft of the European Constitution.