The suicide bombing which slaughtered nearly two dozen concertgoers in Manchester last week demonstrates yet again that terrorism is indeed becoming “part and parcel,” as London’s Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan declared, of European life. And yet the continent’s elites continue to live in denial of the religious roots of that terrorism. Few are willing to tell the truth about Islam and its impact on Europe; even fewer have dared to tell that truth in the gripping way that only fiction can. Controversial French novelist Michel Houllebecq’s bestselling Submission, for example, recently struck a chord among readers with its chilling tale of Europe’s embrace of sharia. And then there is Bruce Bawer’s new novel The Alhambra.
Critic, essayist, and political journalist Bruce Bawer is the author of over a dozen books, most notably While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within (2006), Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom (2009), and The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind (2012). He is a native New Yorker who has lived in Europe since 1998, and who continues to report on the continent’s decline and fall from the front lines. Full disclosure: I am honored to say that Bawer is a friend of mine.
FrontPage Mag readers are surely familiar with regular contributor Bawer’s incisive work. But some may not know that Bawer has just released a self-published international thriller that takes on the verboten topic of Islam’s infiltration and subversion of Europe. The Alhambra is set in early 2001, while America and Europe still slept, as Bawer put it in another book, prior to the September 11 attacks. It is the story of an American living in Amsterdam who overhears jihadists planning an act of terrorism, and finds himself caught up in the deadly intrigue.
Why did he decide to self-publish? As Bawer told me in an email, “My agent liked the book but thought the combination of gay characters and vile Islamophobia made it hopeless to try to place it [with a publisher].” The “vile Islamophobia” alone, of course, is enough to scuttle a novel’s chances with any traditional publisher, and of course Hollywood is far from likely to touch it either. But Bawer didn’t let that deter him from telling a story that needs to be told.
The novel’s protagonist is Steve Disch, a gay filmmaker pushing forty who moves impulsively to Amsterdam after his once-promising Hollywood career stalls out. He immerses himself in the city’s Old World charm but increasingly finds himself crossing paths with the city’s dark, threatening subculture of Muslim immigrants:
Block by block, the neighborhood grew shabbier. There was graffiti, garbage on the street. There were storefronts with signs in Arabic… He passed a group of men who looked like Arabs or Turks or Persians and who were standing on the sidewalk holding a loud, angry-sounding conversation in some Middle Eastern tongue. As he walked by, they all turned, every one of them, and gave him unfriendly, suspicious looks. One of them said something to him. He didn’t understand the words, but he could guess at the sentiment. Further down the street, he passed a woman in an Islamic head covering who was pushing a baby carriage and was flanked by two toddlers. Half a block later, he passed another woman, also covered; this one was pregnant and pushing a child in a stroller.
Steve had spent quite a bit of time in Amsterdam, but he’d never seen, or even heard of, a neighborhood like this.
Steve, like countless Westerners prior to 9/11/2001, is clueless about Islam and taken aback when his European friends express what he initially considers anti-Muslim bigotry. “You need to read up on Islam,” one of them tells him. “But is it worse than Christianity?” Steve counters, echoing the kneejerk response of people who even today are still reluctant to draw a distinction between Islam and other religions. “One piece of advice,” the friend urges. “Get a Koran. Read it.”
But before Steve can educate himself much further, he is chilled to the bone to overhear a group of Turkish men beneath his apartment plotting a bombing of some kind. Attempting to report it to the police, he gets an eye-opening dose of PC multiculturalism from an officer who dismisses his concerns and who lectures the American on Dutch tolerance. These Muslim immigrants here have been subjected to enough prejudice, she tells him, and “one of our values is our belief in helping the poor and weak people of the world.” It is Steve’s first encounter with the shocking degree of colonialist guilt, self-loathing and willful blindness toward Islam that afflicts white European authorities today.
Attempting to eavesdrop again on the conspirators, Steve and a friend are discovered and end up killing two of them in self-defense. The friend assures Steve that going on the run is their only hope. “A thousand times more important than protecting us,” he says of the authorities who are brainwashed by multiculturalism, “would be not to offend the Mohammedan community. That’s how things work here. That’s how people think here. Especially the people in power.” So they run, and Steve simultaneously tries to defuse the bomb plot, which he now knows involves the attempted assassination of a controversial, Geert Wilders-style rising politician who has built a growing constituency of voters angry about the country’s Islamization. The plot complicates as Steve reaches out to a former lover in the CIA who may be covering up the Agency’s own agenda regarding the country’s lone political voice against Islam.
Bruce Bawer’s The Alhambra is a rarity: a literate yet cinematic page-turner of a thriller, with urgent contemporary relevance, grounded in the unflinching reality of fundamentalist Islam’s corrosive impact on Europe. It deserves more attention than it will get without the widespread distribution channels of a traditional publisher. Get your copy here and spread the word.