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The new face of colonization: A cultural and religious remapping

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In the annals of human history, colonization has often been marked by the clash of armies, the subjugation of peoples, and the ruthless exploitation of resources. Traditionally, this process was driven by the naked ambition of empires seeking to expand their territories through conquest and coercion. However, in our contemporary era, we are witnessing a new and insidious form of colonization – one that operates not through the barrel of a gun, but through the subtle and pervasive influence of cultural and religious remapping.

This modern colonization leverages immigration and demographic shifts to gradually impose a particular worldview onto host countries. It cloaks itself in the rhetoric of victimhood and accusations of racism, effectively silencing opposition and facilitating a profound transformation of societal norms. To fully grasp this phenomenon, one must understand the concept of the Ummah in Islam and recognize the stark differences between Islamic and Western notions of community and statehood.

Central to Islamic thought is the concept of the Ummah, the global community of Muslims bound by their faith, transcending national boundaries and political entities. This notion stands in sharp contrast to the Western idea of the nation-state, which is grounded in territorial sovereignty and distinct political governance. For Islamic ideologues, the Ummah takes precedence over national identities, promoting a vision of a unified Muslim community that supersedes geographic divisions. This divergence in worldview is crucial to understanding why many Western nations have failed to recognize the ongoing process of cultural colonization driven by Islamic ideologues. Unlike traditional colonization, which sought to conquer land and subjugate peoples through direct force, this new strategy aims to reshape the cultural and religious landscape from within.

Islamic doctrine, it is often argued, dictates that once a land has been conquered, it is forever absorbed and claimed as part of the greater Islamic world. This tenet compels its adherents to maintain a state of perpetual opposition to any community that seeks to reclaim its independence. The permanence of these territorial claims under Islamic law means that any attempts by a territory previously under Islamic control to assert autonomy are seen as illegitimate and are met with fierce resistance. This worldview fuels an unending ideological struggle, reinforcing the notion that any land once under Islamic rule must remain so indefinitely.

Consider the primary argument against the State of Israel: the land was once under Islamic dominion and, by this doctrine, must therefore remain as such. This issue is far more than a matter of mere territoriality or even religion; it merges territorial claims with religious ones, asserting that land belongs to a faith rather than a people. The situation in Israel could very well set a precedent for other nations that once found themselves under Islamic rule, regardless of how long ago that rule ended.

Take, for instance, parts of Spain during the period of Al-Andalus, or regions in the Balkans that were once part of the Ottoman Empire. Even India has territories that were under Islamic rule. The doctrine’s assertion that these lands should perpetually remain within the Islamic fold poses a potential threat to modern nation-states striving to uphold their sovereignty and cultural identities. This dynamic underscores the imperative for contemporary societies to grasp the historical and ideological contexts underpinning such claims, recognizing the broader implications for global stability and national sovereignty.

We are dealing with a profound ideological conflict that conflates land with religious dominion. This ongoing experiment against the State of Israel could serve as a harbinger for other nations, signaling a troubling conflation of religious and territorial imperatives. Understanding this conflation is critical, as it illuminates the broader strategic maneuvers at play and the existential threats they pose to the modern nation-state.

The methodology of this contemporary colonization, as orchestrated by the Islamic Republic of Iran, is both systematic and multifaceted. Tehran has cunningly exploited the Palestinian cause to sway Muslim communities, pushing them to adopt its narrative and positions against the West. This strategy effectively stokes animosity towards Western Judeo-Christian traditions and values. Large-scale immigration from predominantly Muslim countries introduces significant demographic changes, and over time, these burgeoning communities begin to wield considerable cultural and political influence within their host nations.

As these communities assert their cultural and religious practices, they lobby for accommodations and policy changes that reflect their values, such as demands for Sharia-compliant financial services, separate legal considerations, and modifications to public spaces and educational content. Any resistance to these changes is immediately branded as racism and Islamophobia. By framing opposition as bigotry, proponents of this strategy efficiently silence legitimate concerns about integration and societal cohesion.

Furthermore, as these communities gain political clout, they advocate for laws and policies that align with their religious and cultural beliefs. This gradual but relentless shift can lead to significant alterations in the legal and social framework of the host country, fundamentally reshaping its identity and values. The insidious nature of this strategy lies in its ability to use the very freedoms and democratic principles of the West to undermine them from within, creating a society increasingly alien to the values it once held dear.

The consequences of this modern colonization are far-reaching. It represents an existential threat to the core principles of Western democracies, such as secularism, individual rights, and national sovereignty. By failing to recognize and address the ideological motivations behind these movements, Western societies risk a profound and irreversible transformation. This is not a mere issue of immigration; it is a strategic and ideological challenge. The cultural identity of Western nations is being reshaped from within, using the very freedoms and democratic principles that define these societies as tools for transformation. This form of colonization seeks to erode national pride, teaching the Arab street to prioritize the flag of another before its own, encouraging young men and women to adopt the language of the Islamic revolution without realizing it.

Western democracies must awaken to the reality of this modern colonization. It is not merely about population movements or cultural diversity; it is about the strategic imposition of a worldview that seeks to fundamentally reshape our societies. By understanding the ideological underpinnings of the Ummah and recognizing the unique nature of Islamic statehood, we can begin to see the true scope of the challenge we face. Our response must be informed and robust, defending the values that underpin our societies while fostering genuine integration and respect for our democratic principles. Only through vigilance, preparation, and strategic foresight can we hope to defend against this pervasive and evolving threat. 

About the Author
Catherine Perez-Shakdam - Director Forward Strategy and Executive Director Forum of Foreign Relations (FFR) Catherine is a former Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and consultant for the UNSC on Yemen, as well an expert on Iran, Terror and Islamic radicalisation. A prominent political analyst and commentator, she has spoken at length on the Islamic Republic of Iran, calling on the UK to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organisation. Raised in a secular Jewish family in France, Catherine found herself at the very heart of the Islamic world following her marriage to a Muslim from Yemen. Her experience in the Middle East and subsequent work as a political analyst gave her a very particular, if not a rare viewpoint - especially in how one can lose one' sense of identity when confronted with systemic antisemitism. Determined to share her experience and perspective on those issues which unfortunately plague us -- Islamic radicalism, Terror and Antisemitism Catherine also will speak of a world, which often sits out of our reach for a lack of access.