Much has been written in the last decade about Europe’s culture, its religious makeup, and whether the Islamic minority in European Union countries could ever be a majority.
Melanie Phillips’ Londonistan is perhaps the best-known book making the case that Europe’s character hinges upon demography. While Phillips’ book is carefully researched and well-written, many who speak more polemically about the rise of Islam in Europe are dismissed as ‘Islamophobic’ or extreme both by outside pundits and also by mainstream politicians. Some deserve the label, but others are faced with it as a strategy by the establishment left to shut down legitimate debate. This disconnect in assessments and beliefs is perhaps one of the reasons why the European far-right has been able to consolidate greater support, even in the Netherlands where Geert Wilders fell short of power in this week’s elections but nonetheless managed to gain seats.
Well, as a contrived dispute between Turkey and the Netherlands, supposedly sparked Amsterdam’s refusal to allow Turkish ministers to speak at local rallies for Erdogan’s political party, Erdogan has given fodder to all those who say there is a demographic plot against Europe. According to Hurriyet Daily News, one of the last semi-independent outlets in Turkey:
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called on Turkish citizens living in Europe to have five children – two more than his usual calls to Turks in the homeland – in a bid to multiply their presence in the continent so that they will be the “future of Europe.” “I am calling out to my citizens, by brothers and sisters in Europe,” Erdoğan said at a rally in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir on March 17. “Have not just three but five children.” “The place in which you are living and working is now your homeland and new motherland. Stake a claim to it. Open more businesses, enroll your children in better schools, make your family live in better neighborhoods, drive the best cars, live in the most beautiful houses,” he said. “That’s because you are the future of Europe. It will be the best answer to the vulgarism, antagonism, and injustice made against you.” Erdoğan’s message comes amid ongoing political tension after Turkish ministers’ attempts to stage rallies with members of the Turkish community living in Europe were denied by some countries and after the European Court of Justice ruled to allow employers to ban workers from wearing visible religious symbols, including the headscarf.
Erdogan is no stranger to the demographic game. He has previously urged women to stay at home and have at least three children (and he has also opined that Cesarean sections were against God’s will). By urging a demographic battle to take over the heart of Europe, Erdogan has for very cynical reasons at the very least given fuel to every European conspiracy theorist and cast a shadow over a Diaspora that has largely lived at peace inside Europe for decades.