Ever since 9/11, every time some place or another on the planet has been struck by a major jihadist act, the mainstream media have reliably come out with stories about "backlash" against Muslims. Not accounts of actual backlash, mind you, but pieces in which various academics, public officials, Muslim leaders, and other sensitive souls have been described as wringing their hands over the dreaded possibility that some of us boorish infidels might respond to this latest action by going on the warpath against innocent Muslims. If these "backlash" articles have been such a staple of post-9/11 journalism, it's obviously because they've offered the media an opportunity to focus not on the innumerable Muslim-on-infidel atrocities that have actually taken place but, rather, on hypothetical, and violent, infidel-on-Muslim responses – and thus to persist in casting Muslims in the role of victim, even while the bodies of those they have slaughtered in Islam's name have yet to go cold.
Yet the fabled "backlash" has never really materialized – not, at least, on anything remotely resembling the scale that the media have repeatedly predicted. On the contrary, with a very small number of minor, isolated exceptions, people in the non-Muslim world have routinely responded to Muslim violence with civilized restraint. Indeed, it's hard to think of anything that more dramatically reflects the difference between the Islamic and Western cultures than the contrast between the brutality and scale of the jihadist attacks on the West in recent years and the extraordinarily low level and modest scale of actions taken against Muslim targets in revenge. This refusal of non-Muslims to take an eye-for-an-eye approach in response to jihadist acts is a remarkable testament to the native tolerance of Christians, Jews, and other non-Muslims – and, indeed, to the black-and-white distinction between pretty much every other religion in the world and Islam, which, alone among major faiths, instructs its adherents to see offense everywhere and to respond even to the merest cartoon with murderous violence on a global scale.
Seeking to "hit him hard," the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and acting president Trita Parsi brought a frivolous defamation lawsuit against a critic. Now they face a $183,480.09 fine to his legal defense.
Exactly one year ago, a killer entered the courtyard of a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, and shot in cold blood a rabbi and three children. He said he had wanted to kill more, and to perpetrate a massacre, but that his gun jammed.
During the previous days, he had shot three French soldiers of Arab origin.
The killer was quickly located, besieged by the police for thirty two hours, then riddled with bullets when he tried to escape.
At 11:20 a.m. on Feb. 5, Lars Hedegaard answered his door bell to an apparent mailman. Instead of receiving a package, however, the 70-year-old Danish historian and journalist found himself face to face with a would-be assassin about one third his age. The assailant shot him once, narrowly missing his head. The gun locked, Hedegaard wrestled with him, and the young man fled.
Given Hedegaard's criticism of Islam and his even being taken to court on criminal charges of "hate speech," the attack reverberated in Denmark and beyond. The Associated Pressreported this incident, which was featured prominently in the British press, including the Guardian, the Daily Mail, and the Spectator, as well as in Canada's National Post. The Wall Street Journal published an article by him about his experience.
When the New York Times belatedly bestirred itself on Feb. 28 to inform its readership about the assassination attempt, it did not so much report the event itself but an alleged Muslim support for Hedegaard to express himself. As implied by the title of Andrew Higgins' article, "Danish Opponent of Islam Is Attacked, and Muslims Defend His Right to Speak," he mainly celebrates Danish Islam: "Muslim groups in the country, which were often criticized during the cartoon furor for not speaking out against violence and even deliberately fanning the flames, raised their voices to condemn the attack on Mr. Hedegaard and support his right to express his views, no matter how odious [emphasis added]." This theme pervades the piece; for example, Karen Haekkerup, the minister of social affairs and integration, is quoted pleased that "the Muslim community is now active in the debate."
(For a close dissection of this agitprop, see Diana West's evisceration; and see Andrew Bostom's analysis for a comparison of Higgins to Walter Duranty, the NYT reporter who whitewashed Stalin's crimes.)
Secondarily Higgins delegitimizes Hedegaard, my topic here. In addition to the snarky "no matter how odious" reference, Higgins dismisses Hedegaard's "opinions" as "a stew of anti-Muslim bile and conspiracy-laden forecasts of a coming civil war" and claims the Dane has "fanned wild conspiracy theories and sometimes veered into calumny."
These characterizations of Hedegaard's work are a vicious travesty. A few specifics:
1. What Higgins airily dismisses as Hedegaard's "opinions" is in fact a substantial oeuvre in several academic books and articles laden with facts and references dealing with Islamic ideology, Muslim history, and Muslim immigration to Denmark. Those books include:
Hedegaard's major articles include:
To the best of my knowledge, no one has claimed these writings contain sloppy scholarship or wrong references. As Hedegaard puts it, "I am a university-trained historian and take my craft seriously." The real criticism of Hedegaard is not about his scholarship – but that he raises difficult and even unpleasant questions.
2. Higgins ascribes to him "forecasts of a coming war"; but these are not his forecasts, only his reporting what Islamist texts and spokesmen themselves predict and advocate.
3. Higgins writes that Hedegaard "for several years edited a mainstream Danish daily, Information, is a major figure in what a study last year by a British group, Hope Not Hate, identified as a global movement of 'Islamophobic' writers, bloggers and activists whose 'anti-Muslim rhetoric poisons the political discourse, sometimes with deadly effect'."
"Islamophobia" is a silly neologism intended to vilify anyone who criticizes Islam or even Islamism.
As for "sometimes with deadly effect": that is applied to the whole group of 100 organizations and individuals in the Hate not Hope listing, not to Hedegaard individually. Higgins nastily insinuates that Hedegaard is responsible for deadly attacks on Muslims when, in fact, he was the victim not the perpetrator of an attack. (Hope not Hate, by the way, lists both the Middle East Forum and me in its Counter-Jihad Report; it flatters me as the "Powerhouse behind the international counter-jihadist movement.")
In conclusion, it's not "a stew of anti-Muslim bile and conspiracy-laden forecasts" but "a cocktail of sensible critiques and unsettling analyses." Higgins has written a stew of shoddy aspersions of a brave, distinguished, and accomplished writer with whom I co-authored an article "Something Rotten in Denmark?" in 2002 and who is currently a colleague at the Middle East Forum.
Shame on Higgins for this article and shame on the New York Times for publishing him.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2013 All rights reserved by Daniel Pipes.
How to deal with one madman is tricky enough, but how do you rectify things if the whole world has gone mad? Take Sweden and its apparent determination to deport Reza Jabbari back to his native Iran, most likely to be killed for having converted from Islam to Christianity.
First, there is the growing phenomenon of individuals being targeted for retribution if they have been seen to "insult" Islam. In particular there is the terrible recent case of Lars Hedegaard, who was targeted by an assassin at his home in Denmark earlier this month. The larger tapestry that hangs behind incidents such as the attempted assassination of Lars Hedegaard, Kurt Westergaard and others, however, is not just the attempt to silence a few brave voices, but the attempt to silence an entire planet. I refer of course to the attempt to criminalize – around the world – any speech which is deemed to be offensive to Islam.
This process is not only ongoing among the 57 Islamic countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), but is being considered – rather than laughed out of the room – by, among other countries, the United States of America.
For more than a decade the OIC, originating from Pakistan, has been attempting to bring in legislation via the UN to criminalize "Defamation of Religions." Last December Hillary Clinton made a speech at the Istanbul Process's meeting (in London, shamefully) on "Combating intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief."
Here is the first paragraph:
Right there is the problem. Because her two "fundamental freedoms" might be a square peg or a round peg. But there is absolutely no way that either will ever fit into an OIC-shaped hole. Of course the OIC will continue to talk in generalities. So let us talk specifics. While the OIC pretends to worried about its feelings, let us consider a real-life, concrete, current example.
Reza Jabbari is an Iranian by birth. He is also a convert to Christianity. He is currently seeking asylum in Sweden. Why would this possibly be necessary? Surely if the OIC are being honest, Mr. Jabbari is merely someone with a different opinion from the people who run the country of his birth? And surely if the Iranians are worried about "offense" to religion, they would be standing up to ensure that Mr. Jabbari does not have his Christian faith insulted by the claims of Muslims that he is forever Muslim because he happened to have been born into a Muslim family.
Alas, the realities of the OIC are otherwise. As are those of the Swedish authorities, who appear to be doing everything they can to ensure that Mr. Jabbari is returned to Iran, where he is likely to be imprisoned, sentenced to death, or both. I suppose the Swedes reason that do not have room for him, even with all those empty homes the Jews left behind when they fled Malmo.
But let us take the Hillary Clinton view of things. Iran is one of the countries which has been pushing for an international blasphemy law. If you are Iran, hungry for people like Mr. .Jabbari to be put in their appropriate place, at the end of a crane, would you think, when the American Secretary of State even speaks on your favorite fake subject at your best pet forum, that things are going your own way, or more in what used to be known as the American way?
Put conversely, if you are, say, one of the millions of people who happen to have been born in a country such as Iran or another majority Muslim country, and you had thought that you might like to move around a bit faith-wise -- as plenty of cultural Jews, Christians and atheists do -- would you think that things globally were going in a good-ish direction for you and your religious freedom? Or would you think that the opposite was true and wonder about acting accordingly?
To put the most benign motives on the Obama administration's willingness not to "offend" the OIC, I suppose it is possible that they think that they can encourage the Islamic world in a more tolerant direction. "Nudge" it perhaps? Perhaps Hillary and Barack can sort of "nudge" the Islamic world in a better direction? Sure, it does not understand the idea of freedom of conscience or freedom of religion or freedom of belief right now. And sure, it hasn't had such a good record in any of these matters over the course of fourteen hundred years. But perhaps this time the Islamic world might start to see infidel light?
Well, the administration then is more optimistic than I am. If there is one thing you can say about this subject, after countless discussions over the years, it is that if anything ever does move, it does not move fast.
Some years ago I found myself on the BBC debating a very moderate sort of gentleman, Dr. Tim Winters, who teaches at Cambridge University, England. He is a quiet, reflective type; and as a convert to Islam, he is known as Sheikh Abdul Hakim Murad. In Britain, he is widely thought to be just about the most moderate theologian going.
Anyhow – during our discussion we got into a disagreement on the matter of the punishment for apostasy. I mentioned that it is particularly regrettable that the punishment still mandated in all the major schools of Islam -- to this day -- continues to be death. But Tim mentioned something interesting – apparently game-changing. He said that he had recently attended a seminar in Jordan with some muftis from that neighborhood; and that the interesting upshot of all their discussions was that there had been some agreement that death may not after all be absolutely necessary for apostasy. The ultra-moderate compromise was that "maybe a custodial sentence" would do. [See 8 minutes into the video] "Too kind, too kind", I found myself replying.
Anyway, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and all the other people who are meant to be leading the free world are busy launching us – again to take the kindest possible interpretation – on one of the grandest gambles of all time. Their gamble is that if they give the Islamists of the OIC just a little something – a little nod, a little encouragement, just a "harmless" little law -- then we might all just be able to get along.
They are looking at this in exactly the wrong way. Because for every inch of encouragement the free nations of the world give the OIC, the more Reza Jabbaris we sacrifice to them. Literally. And for every one of the Reza Jabbaris we sacrifice to them, a million more free-thinking souls within the Muslim world will reckon that the strong horse in all this, such as the U.S., is the weak horse and the weak horse, such as the Arab World, is the strong horse. And those millions of people will act accordingly. In Tehran first, but then in Sweden, and Denmark, and finally in America. Perhaps the next American Secretary of State can address the next OIC conference by simply saying, "Whatever you want is perfect!"
Ex-Muslim Imran Firasat, says "Those who refuse to accept Islam must be persecuted until they convert, or be killed"
On Monday, December 3, members of the Legal Project at the Middle East Forum participated in a Capitol Hill panel discussion about "The Istanbul Process and the OIC's Continuing Efforts to Implement Restrictions to Prevent the Defamation of Islam: Part II".
On October 4, 2012, a First Amendment free speech case was argued before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Pamela Geller, a prominent blogger and activist, had – through her organization called the American Freedom Defense Initiative – paid for ads to run on billboards in the Washington DC metro that said: "In any war between the savage and the civilized man, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."
Bashy Quraishy, the Pakistani-Danish Muslim familiar to Legal Project (LP) readers from past articles by Adam Turner and me (see here and here), is back at his old stomping ground, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Speaking at the OSCE's 2012 Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (September 24, 2012-October 5, 2012, in Warsaw, Poland), Quraishy showed that he and his Islamic supremacist, anti-free speech agenda has not changed.
Geert Wilders Lauds Legal Project
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