Tales from a Mosque (4): The Countess Returns

Countess Theresa Von Laubringen, a woman in her middle 40’s, a tall blonde with distinctive dress style and several facelifts, to remain young forever, was standing on the terrace of their family castle, located in the steep mountains above an Austrian city, and she was watching the beautiful landscape around, meadows glaring with green, where the cute ground squirrels, called Alpine Marmots, were running freely, as the spring came into these lands early this year, but the mountain peaks were still covered with snow.

The castle belonged to the Laubringen family for almost 600 years, and any member of this aristocratic family with so long tradition of noble honor and blue blood felt great responsibility not only for the castle, but also for the lands below, once their property, including all villages, fields and peasants.

Before the Second World War, after the “Anschluss” of Austria by Nazi Germany, the Laubringens were widely persecuted by new Nazi government, and they were forced to flee to America, particularly to Malibu, where Theresa lived her whole life, visiting the castle only once, in 1992, when she was still a young woman, and her impressive professional career, when she became a respected horse rider and trainer, plus a respected fashion model in a top U.S. agency, was still awaiting her.

Now, when she reached the middle age and her father announced final retirement, leaving the management of the European family assets to her and her brother Karl, she had to travel to Europe, to supervise all properties, to establish connections, meet local personnel, and to define the next direction of property development.

Theresa was never a woman who would care for their family property too much. Europe was so distant, she felt as an American, and she made good money herself, without any necessity to use the family support.

So, this news came as not to so pleasant for her, she had to cancel many planned activities she loved, but the sense for family duty eventually won, and she packed her Louis Vuitton suitcases, to head for a 14-days trip to Europe, accompanied by her faithful female servant of Mexican origin, called Beatriz, ten years younger, but always having respect for her masters, discreet and silent in every possible situations.

Now, Theresa was here, and she was deeply displeased. She watched the beautiful landscape from above, she could feel as a ruler, but there was something new and disturibing added to the view, since her last visit: a Mosque, with two minarets of middle height, altering the panorama of the city once and forever, and not the way Theresa would like, as Laubringens were always highly devoted Christians.

“You called for me, Countess,” an older man appeared behind her back, as a ghost. It was the basic duty for any family servant, to be as silent as possible, to suppress their personalities, egos and emotions. Otherwise, they were quickly dismissed from the service, and no complaints or threats of leaking alleged family secrets to the hunry press helped. The nobility never steps back from their decisions, and this feature makes kings.

“Ja, Heinrich, I called for you,” Theresa turned her head with perfectly arranged long blonde hair.

After a moment of pause, when Teresa looked at high Alpine peaks around, she started talking.

“How long are you in our services, Heinrich?” she asked with warning authoritative tone in her voice, as her noble genetics started to awake inside her.

“Forty five years, Countess,” the servant replied modestly, with his eyes down, to the ground. It was another rule here: never to look into master’s eyes, as this move could be perceived as “unhealthy approach to service”.

“I was told that you are a trustworthy person and a good servant, you always managed the most serious matters of the family sensitively, but I have one objection. How could you allow this???” she fingered at the direction of the city, where the white mosque was standing.

“What happened with all of you, people?” Theresa expressed her deepest astonishment. “This was once a Christian land, and now, look: a mosque is standing there, so proud, so obvious, so striking, calling into the whole vicinity: Allah rules here! Come and worship Him, He is the one who prevails here!”

Heinrich remained silent, as he felt that woman’s statement is not over yet, and it was his duty to let his masters to talk, until some suggestion or order was issued.

“I don’t know why this makes me so angry,” Theresa thought loudly. “I come from a fully multicultural society, but it’s America… and now, it happens in Europe as well? I simply don’t understand it, so please, Heinrich, explain to me, what happened here.”

“Do I have the permission to speak openly, Countess?” Heinrich asked obediently.

“Granted,” Theresa replied indifferently.

“The mosque was built in 1996, several years after your last visit,” Heinrich started explaining. “Local Muslims asked the municipal office for permission to build it, as they were accepted as an integral part of the Austrian society by the politicians. Yes, there were many protests about it, not only from the right-wing extremists, but the most powerful opponents were people from the quarter, chosen by the Muslim community as a place to build. They felt the same, as you. No one likes changes, and everybody knew, that allowing Allah into these lands will have consequences.

But what could the ‘Rathaus’ (=town hall) do? Muslims said, ‘we live here, we have the same rights, as you, including religious freedom, so let us to worship our God’.

There was no way to stop it, only to disallow the location, as local residents tried to do. But the Muslims had very strong support from all sides, and the opposition faded, as they were persuaded, that nothing is in fact happening, and the goal is to create a multicultural society in Austria,  where everybody has their human and cultural rights granted, so such things belong to it firmly.

If you ask me, whether I knew about this, and whether I had participated in some counter action, I have to tell you openly, that I hadn’t, as your father was met by a man who later became the Imam of the mosque, and he was impressed by him, perceiving him as an asset, that he can show people some other, alternative, fresh, more beneficial values, as your father believed, that Christianity as a religion is in deep decline, only a shade of its former might.

‘New times are coming,’ your father told me, when we were discussing the affair. ‘If I will try to fight with them, I will lose, I will seem as an old reactionary, and I will only exhaust myself, losing my dignity. You have to accept the change in life, Heinrich, and Imam Faraj is a man who will maybe help me one day, as I don’t believe in corrupted Christian clergy anymore. Thus, where should I search for a desirable salvation, when I will need it? I won’t be a young and strong man forever. So, I will be selfish this time, I will allow Imam Faraj to establish his place of worship in our lands, and he will repay me this favor one day, I know it.’

After this conversation, the family completely ignored the matter, sending local people who came here for support back home, telling them: ‘It was you who voted for your current government, your politicians, your votes, which created them, which gave them power to change your lands as they feel right. You will get what you voted for, and the Laubringen family will remain silent, as we were stripped of our power one hundred years ago by your grandparents, and this is what your ancestors voted for. Now, we will accept all changes in the society, watching them from distance, not being involved anyhow, neither for the cause, or against.’

And it was all. Local people then put away all their arms, resigned and succumbed. So the construction works of the mosque went quite smoothly, using generous money support from Saudi Arabia, and after only six months, the panorama of the city was changed, maybe forever, as you can see.

I remember, when the mosque was finished, including minarets, I stood here, on this terrace, with your father. He saw it for the first time, and he said: ‘Imam Faraj is there, behind these white walls, working and living for Allah. He is alive, he creates something, unlike us, only watching, contemplating about our famous past, today only counting our money and property jealously, so no one steals it.

But him? He has almost nothing in material sense. He lives in a small flat with his family, he has no car, no house, no glamorous dresses, he wakes up every dawn, when the whole city sleeps yet, to pray for the first time of the day. He has no king size bed, no heraldry, and still, he has everything: he has Allah, he has only one book, the Qur’an, which gives him immense power.

I was once like him, but look, what happened from me. A tired man, who has his hands tied, who comes to a church, thinking: what is our vision of the God in comparison with their vision, Allah? Allah means strength, but our fat clergy sends us to suffer, to carry the burden, like some imaginary saints.’

In the end, your father decided: ‘Tomorrow, we will visit Imam Faraj, Heinrich, to show him respect.’ When we reached the mosque, Imam Faraj accepted us with honors, saying: ‘Even if you are a non-believer, Count Von Laubringen, just by commiting good deeds, you worship Allah, the Most Compassionate and the Most Merciful. Remember, that He will now watch over you, providing protection and good advices, and He will always be willing to accept you as His servant, so you can find the Straight Path.’

Your father was pleased, he thanked Imam Faraj, and that is how it all ended. We never discussed the matter anymore, the mosque was still standing there, until now, but not in our eyes. We simply moved on, forgetting what once was, or wasn’t.”

Theresa seemed shocked. “He never told me about this… and doesn’t he even think about accepting Islam?” she said deeply disturbed.

“I doubt that he would discuss such a thing with me, a small modest servant,” Heinrich kept distance. “But once, I heard him talking about the issue, and he said, that the conversion must be made before laying on death bed, to be valid. Ask him yourself, Countess, what he wants.”

“I won’t ask him,” Theresa said decisively, even ruthlessly. “I will simply stop all this nasty affair! Tell me, Heinrich: what options do I have? And again, be completely open, this time.”

“If you would like to achieve such extremely demanding task, Countess,” Heinrich smiled to such boldness, “there’s only one real option, as the Muslims are perfectly organized, strong in faith, strong in protecting their rights, standing up for each other, brother to a brother, they don’t fear anybody, they don’t bow in front of anybody, except Allah, and everybody knows that, including right-wing extremists, many of them are even converting to Islam themselves these days, as they feel strong historical and practical ties with Islam, even sharing an archenemy, the Jews, and the state of Israel,” he explained quite coldly, but in his voice, some kind of agreement could be felt, and he maybe presented it openly to the Countess, to indicate to her, what is his personal, disallowed but still real opinion.

“And the option that you mentioned is?” Theresa was curious, and full of hope suddenly, she even stepped closer to the old servant.

“Before I will reveal it to you, I want to ask for a favor,” Heinrich looked into Theresa’s eyes this time, and he showed no hesitation, he fully realized that he crosses the lines this time, but he knew, that the matter is the most important for Theresa, so she will be willing, or forced, to make concessions.

“You old sassy fool,” Theresa said with disdain, not tolerant to such behavior of her pawn. “I will think about this, maybe, but firstly, tell me what solution you suggest.”

“There is only one group which Muslims fear secretly, and the only one group powerful enough to surpass them and their strong protection from above, their benefactors, all that NGOs and human rights activists, all that multicultural ideology and political correctness, even to defeat them in their effort to conquer the world with their expansive Islam.

But I must warn you in advance: playing games with these people will have consequences, they always know, how to use any situation for their benefit, they are masters in covert action, pulling levers as no one else, having no emotions, and no mercy. You could lose much more in the end, than you will gain,” Heinrich now sounded as an experienced Intelligence operative, and it surprised Theresa.

“It seems that you are too well informed about alleged effective countermeasures against the spread of Islam,” she commented. “But is this information reliable? Can I believe you, or do you just try to create a better position for negotiation, you fool? Selling me the blue sky?”

“I always served your family with honor, always trying to fulfill your wishes as well as I can, Countess, and for this demanding purpose, I established a strong and efficient network of informers and clandestine collaborators from many interesting places, even abroad, for achieving special tasks like this. Thus, I was able to obtain a highly classified document from the highest levels of state defence structures of a NATO member, analysing the matter very elaboratedly, if you want a clear proof, not willing to believe to my personal tales and possibly false promises,” Heinrich straightened his old rusty body proudly.

“Well then,” Theresa decided. “What is that you ask as a compensation for this… small help?”

“Just permission for an early retirement, Countess. Being honorably discharged from services, with generous financial compensation. A man should know, when to stop. I want to retire before your father will… this will be my message to him, saying goodbye properly, as visiting a Mosque with him involuntarily was the most humiliating moment in my life, a sin that will be hardly ever forgiven,” Heinrich stated even ruthlessly, but Theresa understood. They were something like allies now… against her own father, but family matters and relations are complicated sometimes.

“Hmmm… this is what I can easily arrange for you, if you will be any help. Meet me in the city center this evening, after work, in that small café ‘Adler’ near the main square. We have to discuss the matter in privacy, out of reach of all attentive eyes here,” the Countess decided.

“As ordered, Countess,” Heinrich was obedient again, and he disappeared as a ghost.

Theresa had the last look down, where the city was. “We will yet see, who will prevail here, Imam Faraj,” she promised to herself, and with large American smile, she went to greet her father.

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