Discussion Of Islam By Daniel Pipes And Geert Wilders At Danish Free Press Society Theo Van Gogh Memorial Conference
November 10, 2014
MIM: A video of the discussion is at the top of the page which can be accessed by the link below.
Discussion of Islam by Daniel Pipes and Geert Wilders
Daniel Pipes: As you know, [Geert,] I admire your courage and your clear analysis. But I also disagree, as you know, with one thing you're saying. You said there will never be a moderate Islam. I don't know how you know that. Islam has changed — I'm a historian, and a historian studies change over time. Everything human changes over time. I took up the study of Islam in 1969, 45 years ago. Islam is very different and much worse than it was in 1969. If it can get worse, it can get better. Islam changes. I could spend an — we could have a summit on it. I'll tell you about how Islam has changed. How do you know it can't get better? How do you know there can't be a moderate Islam? Why are you rejecting this possibility beforehand? Lars is skeptical. I accept that. But you're saying, "Absolutely, no, it can't happen."
Geert Wilders: Well, Daniel and I have known each other for a long time. We do respect each other and we have had the discussion many times before, and sometimes we can agree to disagree. But, indeed, I don't believe that Islam will ever change. Islam is the word — look at the Koran. The Koran is, together with the Hadith and the Life of Mohammed (the Sira), the Koran is the way, the basis of Islam. And the Koran, Muslims believe, is the word of God. It cannot be changed. And of course people change, Daniel. I believe that. I don't believe that Islam has ever changed in the past. When it got worse — and indeed it did, it's worse every day — then it's because people changed. And people changed unfortunately for the worse, not for the better. So yes, I believe that even though today, it gets worse every second — look at the Islamic State, look at what is happening in your country, my country — and that will not change. But the people can change. And I'm not a theologian. I believe that once again, why people, and why people believe in Islam is none of my business. But I am a politician. I'm a lawmaker. And I'll tell you I just told you before, that I'm not interested in changing [them] or not. I'm interested in the people. And if you adhere to our values, you are welcome and if you do not adhere to our values, you have to go. You have to leave. I don't care if it will change, or it will not. I care about the people in my society: Will women in Copenhagen, in Amsterdam be free to walk the streets or will they be harassed? Will children be free to walk our streets? Will homosexuals be beaten up in Amsterdam by Moroccan youths or not? This is the question we should answer, and if the [answer] is "no", we should send them away and stop the immigration [from] countries where we have this aggression. That is the only question that I want to answer.
Moderator: Daniel, do you want to comment on that?
Daniel Pipes: Yes, we have argued this for decades and more. And I agree with your point about the actions being unacceptable and people changing, so we agree on that. Still, you made very clear in your opening remarks that Islam, moderate Islam can — there'll never be a moderate Islam. So let's put aside the actions of people. Why can there not be a moderate Islam? It's — the Koran remains the same, but interpretations of it change. Let me give you one example. There's a short phrase in the Koran, la ikraha fi'd-din, meaning "there should be no compulsion in religion." This is a phrase which over the millennia has changed in its understanding, its interpretation. I wrote an article in which I showed some dozen different historical understandings of what this term means, from the most rigid and limited to the most liberal. Now, every aspect of the Koran can be dealt with in this same way. For example, the contradictions in the Koran. As it is now, it tends to be the more severe that are accepted and the less severe which are rejected. That could change. This is human. This is not divine; this is interpretation of the Koran. Interpretation of the Koran has changed and is changing, and it has changed for the worse and the more severe. Why don't you admit the possibility of a change for the better?
Geert Wilders: Well, you know, the Koran, in Islam there is a rule called "abrogation." And abrogation means that the latest verse in the Koran is valid and invalidates everything that was written before. That's a rule that even moderates in Islam agree with. So indeed, yes, there are passages in the Koran that were saying maybe not the harshest things but they were, at the end of the day, replaced through abrogation by many parts of the Koran, which I don't believe but many Muslims believe in, that this the fact today. Second point: it's the word of God. It's the word of God [that] there are not interpretations today about; there are no Arab or Islamic yeshivas being active today, but where people study and interpret the parts of the Koran, they are non-existent. So please, let us once again agree to disagree; just let us not focus on something that I believe will never happen, and you believe that it might happen in five thousand years. But I am interested in what will happen today, and tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and our countries should be safe, and safe from the brutality of Islam.