September 2010

By Anna Momigliano, for the Christian Science Monitor:

American pundits and politicians continue to argue over whether building an Islamic cultural center two blocks from ground zero – where Al Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center nine years ago – is appropriate.

But as the debate, centered around religious freedom and the role Islam itself played in the 9/11 attacks, continues in New York another of the world’s great cultural cities is arguing over a proposal for its first mosque. And proponents are getting help from an unlikely corner: the Vatican.

Milan, the northern Italian city famed for finance and fashion, is home to about 100,000 Muslims, mostly migrant workers from North African countries. But within city limits, there isn’t a single mosque.



From the Economist:

IT WAS an unusual book launch. Journalists jammed themselves into a suite of overcrowded rooms at the headquarters of Berlin’s press corps. Security was tighter than for appearances by the chancellor. When the author at last showed up he was greeted with the flashbulb fireworks you expect on the red carpet at the Kodak Theatre. The centre of the fuss was Thilo Sarrazin, a rather dour economist who sits on the board of the Bundesbank. His book, “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (“Germany does away with itself”) is explosive.

In a nutshell, Mr Sarrazin’s argument is that the right sort of German women are having too few babies and that the wrong sort—Muslims and those with little education—are having too many. The result is not only that Germany’s population is shrinking, it is also getting dumber. “With higher relative fertility among the less intelligent, the average intelligence of the population declines,” he writes. His defence of eugenics—through policies to encourage fertility among smart women—seems like a throwback to a grimmer time.