Post-Christian Europe became noticeably more Islamized during 2012. As the rapidly growing Muslim population makes its presence felt in towns and cities across the continent, Islam is transforming the European way of life in ways unimaginable only a few years ago.
Some of the more notable Islam-related controversies during 2012 occurred in Germany, where the Muslim population has jumped from around 50,000 in the early 1980s to more than 4.5 million today.
What follows is a brief chronological review of some of the main stories involving the rise of Islam in Germany during 2012.
In January, German authorities welcomed the start of the New Year by officially confirming that they are monitoring German-language Internet websites that are critical of Muslim immigration and the Islamization of Europe.
In a January 4, 2012 interview with the Berliner Zeitung and the Frankfurter Rundschau, Manfred Murck, the director of the Hamburg branch of the German domestic intelligence agency (the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV)), said his organization was studying whether German citizens who criticize Muslims and Islam on the Internet are fomenting hate and are thus criminally guilty of "breaching" the German constitution.
The BfV's move marked a significant setback for the exercise of free speech in Germany and came amid a months-long smear campaign led by a triple alliance of left-wing German multicultural elites, sundry Muslim groups and members of the mainstream media, who have been relentless in their efforts to discredit the so-called counter-jihad movement (also known as the "Islamophobes") in Germany.
In a country stifled by decades of political correctness, the counter-jihad activists and bloggers have been giving a voice to millions of frustrated Germans who see the harm being wrought by the cult of multiculturalism.
Opinion polls consistently show that growing numbers of ordinary German citizens are worried about the consequences of decades of multicultural policies that have encouraged mass immigration from Muslim countries. Germans are especially concerned about the refusal of millions of Muslim immigrants to integrate into German society, as well as the emergence of a parallel legal system in Germany based on Islamic Sharia law.
Also in January, Muslims in Duisburg, one of the most Islamized cities in Germany, clamored for the right to turn empty churches into mosques. All of the churches are located in the gritty Hamborn and Marxloh districts in northern Duisburg where Islam has already replaced Christianity as the dominant religion, and where several Catholic churches have been abandoned.
In Germany as a whole, more than 400 Roman Catholic churches and more than 100 Protestant churches have been closed since 2000, according to one estimate. Another 700 Roman Catholic churches are slated to be closed over the next several years.
By contrast, Germany is now home to more than 200 mosques (including more than 40 mega-mosques), 2,600 Muslim prayer halls and a countless number unofficial mosques. Another 128 mosques are currently under construction, according to the Zentralinstitut Islam-Archiv, a Muslim organization based in Germany.
Meanwhile, on January 16 one of the oldest universities in Germany inaugurated the country's first taxpayer-funded department of Islamic theology. The Center for Islamic Theology at the University of Tübingen is the first of four planned Islamic university centers in Germany.
The German government claims that by controlling the curriculum, the school, which is to train Muslim imams and Islamic religion teachers, will function as an antidote to "hate preachers." (Most imams currently in Germany are from Turkey and many of them do not speak German.)
But the idea has been fiercely criticized by those who worry the school will become agateway for Islamists who will introduce a hardline brand of Islam into the German university system.
In February, the interior minister of the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Jochen Hartloff, said he favored the introduction of Islamic Sharia law in Germany. In an interview with the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Hartloff, a Socialist, said that using the Islamic moral code "is certainly conceivable when it comes to questions pertaining to civil law." Hartloff said using Sharia law to resolve family law issues such as alimony, divorce or financial contracts "could have a pacifying effect" in Germany.
Hartloff's comments were seconded by Michael Frieser, an expert on integration issues for the Conservatives in the German parliament. He told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that he has nothing against Muslim immigrants seeking judgments according to their own legal systems. "That can ultimately serve the cause of integration," Frieser said.
In March, Muslim mobs in Berlin threatened to "burn down the neighborhood" after a German fatally stabbed an 18-year-old Muslim, in what police deemed was an act of self defence. The March 9 incident occurred in the heavily Islamized Berlin neighborhood of Neukölln, when the German, Sven N., tried to stop a fight between two groups of Turks over who should get a football that had been kicked over a fence. The Turks quickly turned their anger against the German. After a group of 20 Muslims armed with knives and daggers challenged Sven, he stabbed one of the attackers, Yusef Al-Abed, in the heart. More than 3,000 Muslims attended Yusuf's funeral, evoking scenes of the Gaza Strip (photos here).
In April, Islamic radicals launched an unprecedented nationwide campaign to distribute 25 million copies of the Koran, translated into the German language, with the goal of placing one Koran into every household in Germany, free of charge.
The mass proselytization campaign -- called Project "Read!" -- was organized by dozens of Islamic Salafist groups located in cities and towns throughout Germany.
Salafism is a branch of radical Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia that seeks to establish a Sunni Islamic Caliphate (Islamic Empire) across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, and eventually the entire world. The Caliphate would be governed exclusively by Islamic Sharia law, which would apply both to Muslims and to non-Muslims. Salafists believe, among other anti-Western doctrines, that democracy, because it is a man-made form of government, must be destroyed.