Wednesday, July 27, 2011

If only Anders Breivik had read the Brussels Journal

On contents, the so-called multiculturalists have lost the Islam debate. They have never been able to make a dent in the case against Mohammed and his religion presented by Islam scholars and ex-Muslims. In the courts, they lost it again with Geert Wilders’ recent acquittal on charges of sowing hate against Muslims. In politics, they have had to suffer the rejection of so-called multiculturalism with its Islam-favouring policies by leading public figures including the Prime Ministers of Germany, Belgium, France and Great Britain, and the adoption of more realistic integration policies by various European countries. So, what to do?

They were at the end of their wits, but fortunately for them, Anders Breivik went into action and killed 76 fellow-countrymen, mostly young activists of Norway’s ruling Labour Party. Breivik acted from anger about an imminent Islamization of Europe and was apparently unaware of the changing tide in European (including Norwegian) policies. We will discount as silly conspiracy thinking that the so-called multiculturalists made him do it; but fact remains that they never had a better friend than the lone Norwegian terrorist. They were elated when they heard the news that not Muslims angry over Norway’s NATO involvement in military missions to Muslim countries had perpetrated the killings in Oslo on 22 July, but a native Norwegian. Though they tried not to make it too conspicuous, the euphoria simply oozed out of their background comments on Breivik’s massacre.

Breivik’s manifesto contained the reproduction in full of some articles from the Brussels Journal, a libertarian-conservative blog website. Predictably, the Belgian and some international media, which never liked the website’s consistent stand for freedom of speech in the face of Islamic attempts at muzzling it, have tried to impute responsibility for Beirvik’s hideous act to this defender of freedom of expression. But in reality, the Brussels Journal never ever carried calls to counter Islam by means of bombs or shoot-outs, whether of Muslims or non-Muslims. It carried criticism of Islam, but that is a perfectly legitimate exercise. As Karl Marx put it, criticism of religion is the start of all proper criticism. Enemies of the freedom to criticize religion are simply enemies of freedom.

As an occasional but frequent contributor to the Brussels Journal, I find my own name (along with that of numerous lucid observers, from Winston Churchill on down) mentioned a few times in Breivik’s manifesto, not in the parts written by him but in two articles from elsewhere which he reproduced. On p.140, an article by Srinandan Vyas quotes me as explaining that Hindu Kush, the name of a mountain range in Afghanistan forming the border of historic India, is Persian for “slaughter of Hindus”. Originally Hindu Koh, “Indian mountain”, it was amended to Hindu Kush because, as Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta explained, numerous Hindu slaves on transport would die there from the cold. So the name does not refer to the mass killings of Hindus by the Muslim invaders, of which there have been many, but to another factor of the bleeding of India by Islam, viz. mass enslavement. This is a historical fact, as is the larger context of Islamic destruction in India from AD 636 onwards.

On p.339, an article by Fjordman on Brussels Journal quotes me as predicting the impending implosion of Islam, then paraphrasing me as warning that before the end comes, Islam can still come to dominate Europe. Islam’s intention to take over Europe is well-documented, and like other historical facts it is not susceptible to being altered by Breivik’s irrational crime. As it happens, my thinking about the magnitude of the risk of Islam succeeding in taking over Europe has evolved, I am now less pessimistic about it than in the 1990s. But either way, it is perfectly legitimate to think about these serious matters. So no, I do not feel embarrassed in any way by seeing these observations of mine reproduced by any of Vyas’s or Fjordman’s readers. As the French saying goes, la vérité est bonne, “truth is a good thing”. It never causes harm by being known.

On the contrary, if I could turn the clock back, I would try to save Breivik’s victims by advising Breivik to read the Brussels Journal. There he would have learned that the threat is not quite as dramatic as he imagined, indeed quite manageable by normal democratic means; and that killing Muslims (let alone non-Muslims) is not the way to counter the expansion of Islam.

For example, he should have read the article “Swat and the Prospects of Islamic Conquest” by Koenraad Elst, posted on Monday, 2009-08-03 ( There he would have read:

“Nevertheless, the spearheads of the Islamic revolution have miscalculated and been defeated in their specific local objectives. What is wrong with Muslims that they waste such golden opportunities? (...) Meanwhile, it confirms my long-standing position that if ever we lose against the Islamic plans of conquest, it can only be due to slackness in mobilizing our brains against this not-so-talented enemy. I don't do ‘Islamophobia’, I don't fear an impending Islamic world conquest. Not because of the rosy dogma that the whole idea of Islamic world conquest is a farcical and fanciful invention (for there are enough Muslim leaders who have affirmed just such a vision), but because the Muslim world rarely lives up to its potential. Neither economically nor in cultural production. But not even in political and military confrontations either. Their threatening postures should not intimidate us. We are capable of outwitting them.”

Again, in the article “Clenardus and the Way Out of Islam” by Koenraad Elst, posted on Friday, 2009-08-07 (, he would have read:

“When I write that we don’t have much to fear from the Islamic aggressor, one reaction I often get is that I am overly and unduly optimistic, making light of a massive threat. (...) At any rate, I am not at all saying that Europeans should go to sleep. On the contrary, my position is that we should be alert and outwit the Islamic aggressor. In this endeavour, we may take inspiration from some of our ancestors, who faced the same problem. (...) They had at least got the basics right: the solution for the Islam problem is to liberate the Muslims from the mental prison-house of Islam.

“An example (...) was Nicolaas Beken Cleynaerts, better known as Nicolaus Clenardus (1495-1542). He grew up in Diest, a town in the eastern corner of Flemish Brabant, now called ‘Diestanbul’ by its fast-growing Turkish community. (...) A statue in Diest commemorates him: ‘Verbo non gladio gentes Arabas convertere ad Christianam fidem nisus est’, ‘He made the effort to convert the Arabs to the Christian faith with the word, not the sword.’

“Preaching on a town square in Tunis or Fez proved to be less than effective as a method to free the Muslims from Islam. (...) So in that respect, the past does not offer us much guidance. It is our own job to find better ways of reaching out to the prisoners of Islam. If this lack of alternatives for self-reliance is a reason for pessimism, then please consider that we may not be all that important.

“Can’t you feel the impact of knowledge and its novel ways of direct availability in colleges and private homes throughout the Muslim world? The phenomenon of ex-Muslims speaking out openly and informing their stay-behind relatives is slowly but surely changing the ideological landscape of the Muslim world. The attempts by Muslims to present their religion as tolerant and pro-woman are admittedly untruthful but do nonetheless show an impact of non-Islamic values and sensibilities that is bound to increase and hollow out the attachment to Islam.(...) In the postcolonial age, de-islamization can no longer be imposed from above even if we had wanted to, but it is now growing from inside. It is up to us to find inconspicuous but effective ways of strengthening this tendency. This is an appeal to European alertness and resourcefulness.”

So there you have a radical and peaceful solution for the Islam problem. Given the findings of modern scholarship about religion, and given today’s possibilities of mass education through information and communication technology, there is no reason to let our Muslim fellow-men continue as prisoners of the deluded belief system imposed by Mohammed. We should not see them as enemies per se, even if they declare war on us, because they are only acting on beliefs instilled in them and from which they can free themselves. In this global age, an enduring solution can no longer be territorial, such as keeping or pushing Islam out of our continent. It has to go to the root of the problem, which is the sincere devotion of otherwise good people to a divisive and hate-fomenting belief system. Policy decisions at other levels, regarding immigration or burqas or other aspects of Islam’s presence may play an auxiliary and temporary role, but the most humane and most secure approach is and remains the liberation of the Muslims from the mental prison-house of Islam.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Danish cartoon affair revisited

For the record, a post of mine on the Indo-Eurasian Research yahoolist from August 2009 is reproduced, concerning the Danish cartoon affair, the hypotheses proposing to "explain" it, and my own role in it.

--- In, Michel Tavir wrote:
> [Mod. note. The terms "party line" and "party liners" are really loaded,
> Michel. What supposed party are you talking about? When you say that
> "Denmark was chosen because, more than anywhere else in Europe, the
> anti-muslim ultra-right had (and still has) a defacto grip on political
> power...", who was supposedly doing the choosing? Without naming
> names it sounds more than a bit conspiratorial. - SF.]

There was no need for Michel to withdraw into a figurative reading of the expression he used. In Denmark, an "anti-Muslim" political party (Pia Kjaersgaard's) did have a "grip" on power, in the sense that it gave indispensible outside support to Rasmussen's minority government.

But I wouldn't call it "ultra-right". When moving rightward from the centre, the farther right you go, the less likely that you will meet "anti-Muslim" people, who are usually also anti-democratic, anti-American and anti-Zionist. Neo-Nazis in their demonstrations nowadays carry pictures of the Hezbollah sheikh and of Iran's president Ahmadinejad, comrades at arms in the struggle against the Zionist World Conspiracy. Recently the leader of the Dutch neo-Nazi group said on TV that Bosnian and Albanian Muslims were fully part of Europe, because they are white and also because of their numerous volunteers in the Waffen-SS, but African Muslims were not, and nor were African Christians or native religionists, because of their race. From the Nazi viewpoint, not religion but race is important: history shows that religions come and go, but race is forever, at least if we do the demographically right thing. And that's where religion may play an auxiliary role: in Himmler's footsteps, some neo-Nazis theorize that the white race would be better off by converting to Islam, a martial and pro-natalist religions that leaves no womb unused. Some neo-Nazis have put this advice into practice and converted to Islam.

"Anti-Muslim" positions are more common in a more moderate segment of the right, viz. libertarian, pro-democratic, generally also pro-American and (pragmatically rather than religiously) pro-Zionist. And are now reviving among the Left. Increasingly, leftist intellectuals on the European continent are realizing that the instrumentalization of postmodern "cultural relativism" as a shield against criticism of Islam's treatment of women and of non-Muslims just can't be reconciled with their basic commitment to equality and emancipation.

> > It was, in short, scholarship, not sensationalism.
> That's also how I viewed Jytte Klausen; (...) yet, if she is quoted properly:
> > Ms. Klausen, who is also the author of "The Islamic Challenge: Politics and
> > Religion in Western Europe," argued that the cartoon protests were not
> > spontaneous but rather orchestrated demonstrations by extremists in Denmark
> > and Egypt who were trying to influence elections there and by others hoping to
> > destabilize governments in Pakistan, Lebanon, Libya and Nigeria. The cartoons,
> > she maintained, were a pretext, a way to mobilize dissent in the Muslim world.
> it appears that she is [toeing] the "party line" that was propagated around
> the world by the West's willing media.<

That was indeed the line taken by the hegemonic media, but for a different reason than the one your propose. It was to abort the rising impression of Muslim hatred for liberty that they shifted responsibility for the anti-cartoon riots away from "ordinary Muslims" and into the hands of fringe movement leaders or impersonal state actors.

> For those who like myself were on the
> front line at the time and refused to be blinded by ideology or prejudice,
> it was obvious from the start that we were witnesses to an orchestrated (not
> a "well-orchestrated", as the cliché goes) provocation that fit all too
> nicely into one of the neo-cons favorite paradigms, Huntington's so-called
> clash of the civilizations.<

That's exactly what Ayatollah Khamenei said at the time. It was also said by the editor of the Flemish weekly Knack, who argued that Jyllands-Posten's Jewish editor Flemming Rose, the American alleged Likudnik Daniel Pipes with his Middle East Forum, and also the Flemish website Brussels Journal, then the main clearing-house for news about the cartoon affair, had concocted the cartoon scenario with the aim of provoking the Muslim masses in Syria and Iran into vandalism and other ugly scenes for the TV news in order to prepare the ground for an Israeli military attack. Pen-pushers and pencil-pushers conspiring for world war, no less! Considering that i have written for both the Middle East Quarterly (about a similar affair, Rushdie's The Satanic Verses) and Brussels Journal, I suddenly found myself in the middle of a truly ambitious conspiracy. At least I can say I was "on the front line at the time and refused to be blinded by ideology or prejudice".

(You may notice that, extensively elsewhere but also on BJ, I have repeatedly written *against* the interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and possibly Iran; war polarizes opinion and only hardens the existing beliefs, whereas what the Muslim world needs is a thaw that makes their beliefs melt and give way to Enlightenment.)

Well, after that promotion to crown witness, it is my testimony that to my knowledge, there was no such pre-planning involved. A journalist simply wanted to know if you can make as much fun of Mohammed as is routinely done with Jesus and Yahweh in European papers. And he found out.

> The most serious, comprehensive and trustworthy book published on the
> Mohammed cartoons affair is "Karikaturkrisen - En undersøgelse af baggrund
> og ansvar" ("The Danish Caricature Crisis - an Investigation of Background
> and Responsibilities"), published in 2006 by Tøge Seidenfaden, the
> editor-in-chief of Politiken, Denmark's second largest newspaper, and
> renowned analyst and commentator Rune Engelbreth Larsen, whose outlook on
> current affairs is rooted in the traditions of humanistic Renaissance and
> the Enlightenment:

Strange what positions these "humanists" take: shielding obscurantism from scrutiny and attacking secularism and freedom of speech. I know a different breed of humanists who swear by the Enlightenment. Or knew, for quite a few have been murdered, such as Pim Fortuyn and Theo Van Gogh. Others are absconding, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali ex-Muslim politician, or have been smashed out of court, like Mohamed Rasoel, the Pakistani ex-Muslim who was sentenced by a white judge in Amsterdam for "anti-Muslim racism" after writing critically about Islam and its view of non-Muslims. He hadn't written anything about islam that hadn't been written in essence already by Ernest Renan or Winston Churchill or Bhimrao Ambedkar, or has since been written by Henryk Broder and other respected mainstream intellectuals. Anything held against the cartoonists also counts against those big names.

The lead in criticism of Islam now rests with pro-Enlightenment ex-Muslims like Ibn Warraq or Ali Sina or Taslima Nasreen. They put their lives at risk, they are the vanguard in the struggle for secular modernity against religious obscurantism. Another reason for genuine secularists too support them and the cartoonists is the worldwide anti-freedom alliance that soon materialized between different religions. In India, the Hindu-nationalist BJP supported a resolution (in the Andhra Pradesh assembly) condemning the cartoons. In the Netherlands, Christian parties surprised everyone with a proposal to reinvigorate the dormant law against blasphemy, now explicitly to include "blasphemy" of Allah and Mohammed. And did you ever hear GW Bush, the reborn Christian and neocon par excellence, applaud the cartoons?

> It doesn't seem that their book was ever translated into English, most
> likely because what it had to say wasn't very popular among party liners.

Strange, for the same things have been said in English by well-published writers like Karen Armstrong. It was also supported by every single member of the panel at the 2006 AAR conference (I was there in the audience); they had not cared to invite a single expert or participant willing to defend the cartoonists.

> Sorry if I come across with a certain sense of frustration, but this remains
> a very sensitive subject for some of us, considering where the swamp of
> intolerance the world, and Europe in particular, has increasingly got itself
> mired in since those events took place.<

Every one of the Islam critics I mentioned, including the tenors of the cartoons affair, have stated as their reason (or at least one of their reasons) to hold Islam up for criticism that Islam is intolerant. Their stated intention is to do something about intolerance. Shouldn't that make you happy?

> Needless to say, I'm not taking
> issue with the freedom to publish controversial material, anymore than
> Seidenfaden or Engelbreth would.

That's at least one thing we can agree on. As Jawaharlal Nehru said: "Freedom is in peril, defend it with all your might." That's what the cartoonists intended to do.

Steve Farmer wrote:

> > Note that the NY Times article doesn't give a link to
> > the cartoons either.
> >

In the case of the US and UK press, I could understand why, at the height of the Iraq war, and with many other entanglements in the Muslim world, they would choose to avoid hurting Muslim sensibilities. In case an al-Qaeda operative were to cite the publication of the cartoons as justification for the killing of their soldiers in Iraq, the newspaper editors might feel morally implicated. But to continue this prudishness about the cartoons today is no longer justifiable.

> >
> >
> >

Sometimes Mohammed shows his face in these pictures, sometimes he is veiled. When the Dutch-Pakistani Islam critic Mohamed Rasoel, when he still an unknown name behind his book, was invited by the press, he appeared on TV (there to be grossly insulted) with his face covered.

Incidentally, his name was a pen name, meaning "Mohammed Prophet". After he had seen Muslims demonstrate in Britain and also in Rotteram with slogans like: "We will kill Salman Rushdie", he calculated that they would think twice before shouting "We will kill Mohammed the Prophet".

> > Please note that I'm not "anti-Islam": I'm against all pre-Enlightenment-
> > style political/religious extremism: Islamic, Zionist, Hindutva,
> > Christian, Mormon, Dravidian, general-American, whatever. They are
> > all hangovers from pre-modern states of culture.
> >

Another point of agreement! Good to see how this painful affair, viz. the violence by obscurantists against cartoonists exercising their freedom of expression, gives rise to such a chummy situation on this forum.

Kind regards,

Koenraad Elst

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