Emerson Vermaat: Danish Cartoons, Hamas and the religious fascists
February 7, 2006
Danish Cartoons, Hamas and the religious fascists
By Emerson Vermaat
It started with a radical Imam named Ahmed Abu Laban who tried to sue the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten for blasphemy. In September 2005, this newspaper published twelve cartoons some of which linked the founder of Islam – Mohammed – to terrorism. When his legal action failed Imam Abu Laban and other offended Muslims from Denmark traveled to the Middle East to complain about the twelve cartoons. They carried a letter with them blaming Denmark for ‘the lack of official recognition of the Islamic faith' and ‘an atmosphere of growing racism.' They asked fellow Muslims in other countries ‘to join the defense and support of the prophet,' as these cartoons showed that Muslims were having a very hard time in Denmark. In interviews with Western media Abu Laban said he was against boycotting Danish products, in an interview in Arab with ‘Al–Jazeera' he told exactly the opposite.
Personally, I do not like these cartoons. In general, I do not agree with cartoons which are offensive to any religion, be it Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist. If I were a newspaper editor I would not have published such cartoons on Mohammed. I do not know if there is direct link between the founder of Islam, who lived 1500 years ago, and contemporary suicide terrorists. But I do know Mohammed was not a pacifist, on the contrary, he was a man preaching revenge and the sword. In that sense he was precisely the opposite of Jesus Christ who told his followers: ‘Love your enemies.' He also said: ‘Blest are those of a gentle spirit; they shall have the earth for their possession.' (Matthew 5 verse 5, New English Bible). The early church was exactly like that, later – after about 300 A.D. – many of those who called themselves Christians deviated from this path. But the origins of Islam were quite different. Maxime Rodinson decribes Mohammed as ‘the prophet in arms.' He tells us how Mohammed ordered the public execution of the male members of a Jewish tribe who opposed him:
‘All adult males were to be slain, the women and children sold into slavery, and their property divided. Mohammed cried out: "You have judged according to the very sentence of Allah above the seven skies."
The next day he had great trenches dug in the market place of Medina. The Jews were led out tied together in groups, and beheaded, one by one, on the edge of the trenches and thrown in. According to some there were six or seven hundred of them; while others say eight or nine hundred.'
Mohammed's relations with the Jews were a complicated matter. There are verses in the Koran describing Jews as ‘the people of the book,' but there are other verses where Jews are referred to in a less friendly manner. Initially, Mohammed hoped to convert the Jews to Islam, and he was friendly towards them. Later many Jews refused to accept him as a prophet and began to resist his claims.
According to Mohammed Ibn Ishaq (who wrote a book about the life of Mohammed about one hundred and twenty years after Mohammed's death) the ‘Apostle' once instructed a follower: ‘Kill any Jew who falls into your power.' From the outset, Islam was the religion of jihad or holy war. There was no compromise. Those who resist the invincible march of Islam must be eliminated.
But it would be wrong to claim that the religion of Islam is in favor of eliminating the Jews. In times of persecution Jews sometimes found a safehaven in Muslim lands (this was the case, for example, in sourthern Spain in the Middle Ages, Morocco and the Balkans). This is something that Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda, Hamas and other Muslim extremists conveniently prefer to ignore.
Their hatred of the Jews is not very different from Nazism (many of them believe in the antisemitic ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion' and similar antisemitic conspiracy theories).
Ibn Taymiyya, a hardline 14th century Islamic theologian is the author of an essay on ‘The Obligation to Kill Anyone who Insults the Prophet.' In the Summer of 2004, this essay was translated by a Dutch Moroccan named Mohammed Bouyeri. A few months later the same Bouyeri would kill the Dutch columnist and filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Dutch member of Parliament and a former Muslim, had made the film Submission, showing koranic texts about the suppression of women on a half-naked female body. If I were a film director I would have made a different film – its message though, would not be very different. The point is, you don't kill people for making films (or cartoons). Not only was a peaceful and defenseless man like Theo van Gogh killed as he was on his way to his work, a letter was also knifed by Bouyeri to Van Gogh's lifeless body telling Ayaan Hirsi Ali she would be the next victim.
On February 2, 2006, ‘Al Ghurabaa,' a British group of radical Muslims issued a statement saying what happened to Van Gogh would also happen to the Danes. One day later a group of angry young Muslims demonstrated in front other the Danish Embassy in London. Their slogans were equally violent: ‘Behead those who insult Islam!' ‘Kill those who insult Islam!!! ‘Liberalism go to Hell!' ‘'Butcher those who mock Islam!' ‘Europe you'll come crawling when Mujahideen come roaring!!!' It is clear such people are not interested in European values and democracy. They enjoy all the freedoms and benefits of western societies, yet they hate the West more than ever before. One wonders why they want to live in the decadent West, why don't they en masse apply for visas and go to Iran or settle in Pakistan's tribal areas?
What they want to establish here is sharia law. They want to conquer Europe and are using the rage about those silly cartoons as a pretext. Once aroused, their anger knows no bounds and they cry for revenge – like the angy crowds in elsewhere in the Muslim world.
This is not new. In his excellent study ‘The Arab Mind' (1983) Raphael Patai decribes the ‘uncontrolled outbursts of emotionalism:'
‘Any event that is outside routine everyday occurence can trigger such a loss of control and turn the docile, friendly, and courteous Jekyll into a raging, dangerous, and maniacal Hyde, who will return to his former self as soon as the seizure of temper passes.
Particularly interesting is the frequency with which self-control gives way to temper, the ease with which the flood of anger, violence, or other intense emotion sweeps over the dam of self-control and in an astonishingly short time transforms the entire personality.'
‘Once aroused, Arab hostily will vent itself indiscriminately on any and all outsiders.'
In Gaza armed masked men belonging to the notorious ‘Al-Aqsa Brigades' occupied the offices of the European Union. Other radical Palestinians threatened to abduct European journalists and aidworkers. Copying what is happening in Iraq is a popular trend in the Palestinian areas nowadays.
Somebody from Hamas recently said they did not need European help. Their Arab and Iranian friends would fill in. The EU is the biggest donor of funds to the Palestinians, many of whom voted for Hamas. Yet, Europe's flabby leaders have no intention of stopping the flow of money to the Palestinians whose only response seems to be ‘jihad' and ‘death to you.' We in the West pay their salaries and corrupt rulers, and they threaten to kill us. In three years time, corrupt Palestinian officials from the Palestinian Authority embezzled some 700 million dollars of Western aid money. Since 2000, more than 5 billion dollars have been transfered to the Palestinian Authority. Without that money, they would simply cease to exist. Neither the Arabs nor the Iranians are willing to rescue the Palestinians once the immense flow of money from the international community stops.
The tragedy is that international aid largely serves to keep corrupt Palestinian structures intact, with Hamas gaining more and more ground. When I was in Gaza in 2002, I remember how ordinary Palestinians were complaining about the lavish lifestyle of Suha Arafat, the much younger wife of Yassir Arafat. These Palestinians did not like Hamas at all, yet they were also highly critical of the corrupt Palestinian Authority led by Yassir Arafat. His wife was living in luxury in Paris and receiving millions of dollars in her bank account. She was wearing expensive clothes and jewelry while the poor Palestinians in Gaza and the Westbank could hardly feed their own children.
Why are there no massive demonstrations in the Muslim world against their corrupt leaders? Why are the Muslim masses not protesting the hijacking of their own religion by ruthless terrorists? Why is Europe afraid of taking a real stand against the religious fascists and holocaust deniers and show solidarity with the Danes? All of us should be Danes now, should we not?
Maxine Rodinson, Muhammad (London: Penguin Books, 1996), p. 213
John Bagot Glubb, The Life and Times of Muhammad (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1970), p. 199 (Mohammed Ibn Ishaq).
Raphael Patai, The Arab Mind (New York: Hatherleigh Press, 2002, first publsihed in 1976 anmd revised in 1983), p. 169-171.
Emerson Vermaat is an investigative reporter specialized in terrorism and crime. He also made a number of television reports in countries in the Middle East and North Africa for Dutch television.