daniel pipes 58.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Anew German political party, Die Freiheit (The Freedom), had its inaugural
meeting on October 28 in Berlin. I was in town, so its leaders invited me to be
the only nonmember to witness and report on its founding assembly.
reminder of how freedoms have eroded in Europe in this age of Islamist terror, a
political party that resists Islamization and supports Israel cannot come into
existence in broad daylight. So, like the other 50-plus attendees, I learned of
the event’s time and location only shortly before it took place. For good
measure, the organizers operated undercover; the hotel management only knew of a
board election for an innocuously named company. Even now, I cannot mention the
Much of the time was taken up with the legalisms required
to register a political party in Germany: Attendance was taken, votes counted,
organizational procedures explained, steps enumerated to contest Berlin
elections in September 2011, and officers elected, including the chairman, René
Stadtkewitz, 45. Of East German background, he is a member of the Berlin
parliament who belonged to the ruling conservative CDU party until his expulsion
a month ago for publicly hosting Dutch politician Geert Wilders.
of chief interest was his oral summary of party policies, plus the distribution
of a 71-page “Basic Program” detailing party positions. Stadtkewitz explained
the need for a new German party on the grounds that “the established parties,
unfortunately, are not ready to take a clear stand but instead abandon the
The program neither minces words nor thinks small. Its opening
sentence declares that “Western civilization, for centuries a world leader,
faces an existential crisis.”
The new party, whose slogan is “the party
for more freedom and democracy,” speaks candidly about Islam, Islamism, Islamic
law and Islamization. Starting with the insight that “Islam is not just a
religion but also a political ideology with its own legal system,” it calls for
scrutiny of imams, mosques and Islamic schools, for a review of Islamic
organizations to ensure their compliance with German laws, and condemns efforts
to build a parallel legal structure based on Shari’a.
analysis forcefully concludes: “We oppose with all our force the Islamization of
Freiheit robustly supports Israel, calling it “the only
democratic state in the Middle East. It therefore is the outpost of the Western
world in the Arab theater. All democratic countries must show the highest
interest in Israel’s free self-determination and security.
commit ourselves to Israel’s right to exist.”
HOWEVER CLEAR these
passages, as well as the rejection of Turkish accession to the European Union,
they comprise only about 2% of the Basic Program, which applies traditional
Western values and policies to German political life.
Its topics include
German peoplehood, direct democracy, the family, education, the workplace,
economics, energy, the environment, health and so on. Offering a wide platform
makes good sense, fitting the anti-Islamization program into a full menu of
Despite this, of course, press coverage of the founding
emphasized Freiheit’s position vis-à-vis Islam, defining it as a narrowly
The establishment of Freiheit prompts two
observations: First, while it fits into a pattern of emerging European parties
that focus on Islam, it differs from the others in its broader
Whereas Wilder’s PVV blames nearly every societal problem on
Islam, Freiheit, in addition to opposing “with all our force the Islamization of
our country,” has many other issues on its agenda.
Second, Germany is
conspicuously lagging behind most European countries with a large Muslim
population in not having spawned a party that stands up against Islamization.
That’s not for a lack of trying; previous attempts petered out. Late 2010 might
be an auspicious moment to launch such a party, given the massive controversy in
Germany over the Thilo Sarrazin book ruing the immigration of Muslims, followed
by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s announcement that multiculturalism has “utterly
A change in mood appears to be under way.
party has been conceived as a mainstream, earnest and constructive effort to
deal with an exceedingly complex and long-term problem. If it succeeds, it could
change the politics in Europe’s most influential nation.The writer
(www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube
distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.