Statement from Lars Hedegaard, founder and president of the Danish Free Press Society.
This post is long overdue. But as the subject matter was important and misinformation was flying about in all directions I wanted to make certain that what I posted was accurate as well as authorised.
Below, please find an article written by Lars on the subject of the events which led up to criminal charges laid against him in Denmark for ‘hate speech’ stemming from a videotaped interview for a Danish Blog, www.snaphanen.dk which I will add below.
A View from the Swamp
When will 180Grader start facing the realities of the world?
By Lars Hedegaard
Translated from Danish
All hell has broken loose again. Occasioned by the release of Mogens Camre’s and my book “The 1400 year war “, Asger Trier Engberg interviewed me for Snaphanen (“Islam is an army”: http://snaphanen.dk/2009/12/17/lars-hedegaard-islam-is-an-army). This caused the blogger Lars Pilegaard, who describes himself as an anti-imperialist, to accuse me of encouraging “revolt, lynching and war”. These remarkable accusations have made such an impression on Ole Birk Olesen that he has found them worthy of publication at his Internet news site 180Grader (www.180grader.dk).
Before these tall tales proliferate, I encourage everyone to hear the interview. They will be able to ascertain that of course I have neither encouraged lynching nor war. This is an accusation that Lars Pilegaard has made up, something that can be done with impunity due to the fact that in Denmark you’re free to make any accusation as long as you make sure to describe the accused as a member of “the rabid right wing swamp”, where Pilegaard consequently hastens to put me.
[Note to the reader:
Ole Birk Olesen is the editor-in-chief of 180Grader (www.180grader.dk), a news aggregation and opinion web site with a radical libertarian worldview.
While 180Grader has been documenting the anti-Jewish demonstrations in Copenhagen, January 2009, in a remarkable turn of opinion it started posting favourable articles about the prospects of an Iranian-backed mosque in Copenhagen (http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2009/09/tehran-comes-to-nrrebro.html), asserting that as a free society, we neither have nor should want the means to prevent this.]
A duty to conquer
What I make clear in the interview as well as in the book is that Islam – i.e. the religion or the ideology, if you will – contains a declaration of war against everyone who will not bow before its divinely ordained duty to rule everywhere. That this duty is part and parcel of Islam is beyond discussion. This central observation is amply documented, not just in Camre’s and my book, but in countless other works that cite Islam’s canonical texts and recognized spokespeople throughout 1400 years. And as far as I know, till this day not a single authoritative spokesman of Islam has said anything else.
This is hardly surprising since doing so would entail a radical departure from the commands laid down in the Koran, the hadith, the teaching of Sunni Islam’s four recognized law schools, in commentaries etc.
But in the eyes of Pilegaard and Ole Birk Olesen, pointing out this highly interesting feature of Muhammad’s worldview constitutes a declaration of war against Islam. In other words: Whoever repeats what Muslim scholars have said throughout 1400 years about their own plans and religious duty becomes responsible for the wars that Muhammad ordered Muslims to wage against anyone who would not bow to his totalitarian system. The attacked becomes the aggressor as soon as he acknowledges that he is under attack and takes action to defend himself. (This also corresponds with the view expressed in Islam’s canonical texts: The attacked is himself responsible for the war which Islam wages against him because he could simply surrender.) And – if I understand Pilegaard’s reasoning correctly – Islamic theology would not contain any aggressive potential or any duty to conquer, if we refrained from quoting what Muslim spokesmen say about themselves.
In reality Lars Pilegaard’s proclaimed “anti-imperialism” is founded on the cultural imperialist view that we here in the West are supermen who can dictate what the poor natives of the Muslim world and their immigrants to the West should believe or think. Even though their holy books are full of exhortations to war, and even though history shows that these exhortations have been put into practice, it is all our fault.
A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of having dinner with the grand old man of Western Islamic studies, professor Bernard Lewis of Princeton. I asked him what he thought of the outlook for the confrontation between Islam and the West and he did not sound overly optimistic. The first requisite to win this struggle has to be that we in the West at least acknowledge that we are under attack, and he did not see many signs that the West had done that.
We’re talking about Islam
In both “The 1400 Year War” and in the interview, I have been at pains to emphasize that I speak about Islam, not about Muslims. In the interview I was asked if I believe that all Muslims are prepared to take part in the holy war, jihad – a war, which I also made clear, is no longer primarily fought with military means.
My reply is that I do not know if all Muslims are prepared to do so or if they even support the idea. The only thing I know is that Islam’s canonical texts state that personal participation in jihad is a prerequisite for salvation and that this teaching can’t fail to exert a significant influence on the believers.
I am terribly sorry about that. I also feel pity for the hundreds of millions of children of Muslim parents who are indoctrinated with the notion that they are damned if they allow themselves to be integrated into infidel societies and thus give up their duty to contribute to Islam’s victory.
But it is not I who has made up this belief system or wished that children should be raised in this way.
One could easily imagine a solution to the problem. Everything the imams and Islamic scholars – ulema – would need to do, is to explain that Islam does not imply any duty of conquest and that the holy texts have thus far been misinterpreted; that it can’t have been God’s intention that women should be under the surveillance of a guardian all their lives; that Muslims can marry whoever they want; that they can freely change religion without risking the death penalty; and that Islam permits the same freedom of religious criticism as do Christianity and Judaism. If they would not just say that but practise it, there would be no problem. The war would be over.
I admit that it would be a very difficult task as any normal reading of the texts and any honest study of Islam’s 1000-year old practices would lead to the exact opposite conclusion. But I know that there are Muslims who strive for a radical reinterpretation. Unfortunately they have no significant influence. Thus I have to relate to Islam as it is preached, not to an Islam one might wish for.
My detractors are also disturbed by the fact that I have spoken about one of Islam’s greatest taboos, that family rapes of Muslim girls is a serious and widespread phenomenon. This is of course not what happens in every Muslim family. Not do I claim that it happens in most of them. But I am forced to relate to the indications that are available.
For obvious reasons, we can’t know the exact extent of the problem. Who will admit that they have committed rape, and how many girls – even boys in some cases – will tell that it has happened to them? Much of the material is therefore anecdotal or deals with the situation in specific countries.
One might for instance read the description of how girls are treated in the Somali community in Norway in Amal Aden’s book “Se Oss” [See Us] (Aschehoug 2008, Norway), where the main character is raped by her uncle while her father and mother look the other way. The Norwegian Children’s Ombudsman Reidar Hjermann notes that “if only some parts of this book are accurate, we have an important job to do”. He would probably not have said so if he had assumed that such abuse was a rare thing.
In her memoirs, “Meyebela: My Bengali Girlhood – A Memoir of Growing Up Female in a Muslim World” (Steerforth Press 1998), Taslima Nasrin described how she was raped by uncles on two separate occasions. How many Bengali girls have experienced something similar – without telling? Nasrin’s courage and frankness resulted in her having to flee for her life, and she continues to live in exile in the West.
An American study, which was done in 1993 at the behest of the North American Council for Muslim Women, indicated that domestic violence (which includes everything from beatings to incest) against Muslim women and children occurred in 10 pct. of the Muslim population.
In 2006 there was a discussion in FrontPageMagazine, where the German Islamic scholar Hans-Peter Raddatz maintained that incest and rape are one of Islam’s greatest problems. Raddatz was supported by the psychiatrist and Arabist Nancy Kobrin, who stated that “the Arab-Muslim culture by definition encourages an incestuous family, a ‘closed circle’”. Kobrin made reference to among others the Arabic sexologist Abdelwahab Bouhdiba’s work Sexuality in Islam, a French edition of which was published in 1975.
In 2004 the Danish nurse and social counsellor Kristina Uddin pointed out that Muslim girls are raped or assaulted by their closest family and launched a sharp attack on the majority society for not defending these girls (Politiken, 24 October 2004).
What do Pilegaard and Olesen have to say about this? Is Kristina Uddin part of the “right wing swamp” or is she, as a Muslim, exempt from criticism?
The largest survey I know of is “Crimes of the Community: Honour-based Violence in the UK” (http://www.socialcohesion.co.uk/files/1229624550_1.pdf), which was published in 2008 by the English Centre for Social Cohesion. From the conclusion:
This study shows that honour killings, domestic violence, forced marriage and FGM are not isolated practices but are instead part of a self-sustaining social system built on ideas of honour and cultural, ethnic and religious superiority. As a result of these ideas, every day around the UK women are being threatened with physical violence, rape, death, mutilation, abduction, drugging, false imprisonment, withdrawal from education and forced marriage by their own families. This is not a one-time problem of first-generation immigrants bringing practices from ‘back home’ to the UK. Instead honour violence is now, to all intents and purposes, an indigenous and self-perpetuating phenomenon which is carried out by third and fourth generation immigrants who have been raised and educated in the UK.
In the study it is also stated:
Activists in the Arab community believe that honour-based domestic violence often occurs if a woman defies the authority of her husband, brother or parent. Mohamed Baleela, project worker at the Domestic Violence intervention Project in Hammersmith in West London, says: ‘Domestic violence is a huge problem. I’d say 60 per cent of Arab families suffer from domestic violence. The main problem is the lack of awareness within the community on the violence and its affects. It is a huge stigma because it is associated with shame. An Arabic-speaking woman would not want to be seen as breaking up her family. Community leaders and imams see keeping the family together as much more important.’
One of the examples in the survey is the murder of Banaz Mahmod, who was raped and beaten in a conscious attempt to humiliate her. On orders from her father, her murderers stripped her of clothing and raped for two hours in the family home before eventually garroting her.
Summing up, it appears that the justice system at least in small parts has awakened to the responsibility which it has so obviously neglected for decades. Here in December 2009 a London court sentenced Mehmet Goren to 22 years in prison for the 1999 honour killing of his 15-year old daughter Tulay after the police had refused to protect her. Tulay’s ‘crime’ was that she had a boyfriend, which according to the father had made her a “worthless piece of merchandise” that could no longer fetch the 5000 pounds dowry he had hoped for. In court Goren’s wife testified to 30 years of systematic domestic violence.
The survey from Centre for Social Cohesion also estimates that more than 98 000 women in Great Britain are at risk of being genitally mutilated and that 65 000 have already been circumcised.
Revolt – yes, please
In a country – Denmark – where we constantly hear stories about “revolt in the Liberal Party” or “revolt in the Conservative parliamentary group”, 180Grader’s commentator considers it a horribly extremist that I suggest that a popular revolt might be required (in the interview I used the words “uproar” and “uprising”), unless the state, which has pledged to uphold the constitutional order, acts against this kind of abuse. He tries to make it look as if I encourage lynching, and 180Grader – not to speak of the Conservative daily Berlingske Tidende – finds this worth publishing.
A few years ago three Norwegian immigrant girls stepped forward and threatened to take the Norwegian state to court if it failed to offer them the same protection given to everyone else. As far as I know, nothing came of it.
But I couldn’t agree more with the girls. Citizens’ rights and the state’s responsibility to uphold them should include everyone.
[Subsequent to the publication of the above comment, I have issued a press statement, been quoted in several papers and twice appeared on national television. Here I have tried to explain that my statement: "They rape their own children" should not be understood to imply that every Muslim in the world behaves this way. It is akin to a statement such as: the Americans make good films. This does mean that all 300 million Americans are filmmakers or that all American films are good.]