Saturday, September 30, 2006
A French high school philosophy teacher and author who carried out a scathing attack against the Prophet Muhammad and Islam in a newspaper commentary says he has gone into hiding under police protection after receiving a series of death threats, including one disseminated on an online radical Islamist forum.
The teacher, Robert Redeker, 52, wrote in the center-right daily Le Figaro 10 days ago that Muhammad was “a merciless warlord, a looter, a mass-murderer of Jews and a polygamist,” and called the Koran “a book of incredible violence.”
The Redeker case is the latest manifestation in Europe of a mounting ideological battle that pits those who believe Islam and the Prophet Muhammad can be criticized in the name of free speech against those in the Muslim community who believe no criticism can be tolerated.
And, I might add, against those in the non-Muslim community who pusillanimously shrink from the anticipated the Muslim reaction. Redeker now knows what it is like to be at the other end of that rage:
Immediately afterward, Mr. Redeker, who teaches in a public high school near Toulouse and is the author of several books on philosophy, began to receive death threats by telephone, e-mail and through the online Islamist Web site known as Al Hesbah, a password-protected forum with ties to Al Qaeda. The forum published photos of him and what it said was his home address, directions to his home and his cellphone number, according to the SITE Institute, which tracks violent Islamist groups.
That day’s issue of Le Figaro was banned in Egypt and Tunisia. Mr. Redeker was denounced by a commentator on Al Jazeera television.
“I can’t work, I can’t come and go and am obliged to hide,” Mr. Redeker told Europe 1 radio in a telephone interview from an undisclosed location on Friday. “So in some way, the Islamists have succeeded in punishing me on the territory of the republic as if I were guilty of a crime of opinion.”
Mr. Redeker, who has kept in contact with news agencies by cellphone and e-mail, said that his wife and their children had also been threatened with death. He told Europe 1 that his wife was in hiding with him, but he was less clear about his three children, saying that one of them had been forced to move and that another was in a boarding school.
Asked to describe the sort of threats he had received, Mr. Redeker replied, “You will never feel secure on this earth. One billion, three hundred thousand Muslims are ready to kill you.”
Even the New York Times was apparently unable to fullfill its usual function of finding a "moderate" Muslim who would denounce those who have threatened Redeker.
The Redeker fatwa is of a piece with the grandfather of such fatwas, the Ayatollah Khomeini's demand that Muslims assassinate Salman Rushdie for having written The Satanic Verses. Two years ago, an assassin linked to al Qaeda murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Last year, Islamists drove Ayaan Hirsi Ali into the relative security of the United States, she becoming the first refugee from the Netherlands since World War II. This year, it follows the Danish cartoons controversy, Pope Benedict's speech, and the Berlin opera -- which surrendered only this week -- in having become the latest excuse for barbaric crimes in the name of The Prophet.
Whenever I read these stories, I wonder "What would The Prophet do?" It seems to me that there are only two answers. Either The Prophet would approve of murder, arson and vandalism in his name because some infidel expresses an opinion, or he would disapprove. If he would approve, then everything these critics have said about Islam, at least as practiced by fundamentalists, must be true. If he would disapprove, then his followers -- those who would commit these crimes against free expression -- are themselves dishonoring their Prophet by lying about his teachings. Is there a third answer? I can't locate one.
Europeans are realizing this. German Prime Minister Angela Merkel stepped right up and denounced the cancellation of Mozart's Idomeneo, saying "We must be careful that we do not increasingly shy away out of fear of violent radicals. Self-censorship out of fear is not tolerable." No, it is not. Western civilization cannot tolerate the intolerant.
Prime Minister Merkel is a politician, and probably would not have been so unequivocal if she did not believe that would be popular. She would have taken the more "nuanced" position of French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who qualifies free speech with the requirement that it must "respect others, of course."
I wonder if Europe will eventually snap under these tensions. For well over a thousand years, it was the most brutal, violent continent on the planet. Has that really all changed in sixty years? Ralph Peters thinks we would be mistaken to think it had. From his excellent book, New Glory (which you are a fool not to read):
Yet Europe is likely to be good for a number of surprises - surprising not least to Europeans themselves. With our short historical memory (one American quality Germans welcome), we thoughtlessly accept that, since much of Europe appears to be pacifist now, so it shall remain. But no continent has exported as much misery and slaughter as Europe has done, and the chances are better than fair that Europe is only catching its breath after the calamities it inflicted upon itself in the last century.
We last saw widespread pacifism in Europe just before 1914 and again during the half-time break in that great European civil war that lasted until 1945 (or 1991 east of the Elbe).
Europe's current round of playing pacifist dress up was enabled by America's protection during the Cold War. We allowed our European wards to get away with a minimum number of chores. The United States did (and still does) the dirty work, seconded by our direct ancestor, Britain. Even the North Atlantic Treaty Organization merely obscured how little was asked of Europe. For almost a century the work of freedom and global security has been handled by the great Anglolateral alliance born of a struggle against the tyranny of continental European philosophies hatched on the Rhine and Danube. Our struggle continues today, against fanaticism and terror.
It is unlikely that Europe's present pacifism will last... Europe will rediscover its genius, reforming itself if necessary. There will be plenty of bitterness and recriminations along the way, but Europe will accept the need to change because change will be forced upon it. The trouble with European genius, of course, is that it has a dark side. If its racist populations feel sufficiently threatened by the Muslim millions within their divided societies and by terror exported from the Islamic heartlands, Europe may respond with a cruelty unimaginable to us today. After all, Europe is the continent that mastered ethnic cleansing and genocide after a thousand years of pactice. We Americans may find ourselves in the unexpected
position of confronting the Europe of tomorrow as we try to restrain its barbarities toward Muslims.
Are there the first hints of a European backlash in the events of the last year? Just yesterday, I fell into a conversation with a colleague who recounted a dinner that he had had in Germany this week. His hosts were liberal, educated professionals who have always been most moderate in tone, but they were tired of Muslim rage, and wanted to know how long they would have to put up with it. They, like many Europeans, are far less willing than many Americans to call radical Islamism what it is -- an implacable, barbaric enemy that must be driven from our midst -- because they are afraid that to give voice to their fears will spark the return of "the dark side" of European genius, something that today's generation wishes was gone forever.
MORE: The first fifteen minutes or so of last week's "Blog Week In Review" podcast, featuring Austin Bay, Glenn Reynolds and Mark Steyn, touches on just the topic of this post and is well worth listening to (in its entirety, actually).
You know, it is fascinating how the Europeans can do no right in your eyes. They try to integrate with Muslims, they are accepting terrorism and bowing down to the sheiks. When they begin to stand up to it, then right away it is "OMG NAZIS!!!11"
Why should anyone take you seriously? If I were to contend that Americans were by their very nature a barbarous, ignorant people because of atrocities they have committed fairly recently (savagery toward native Americans, slavery, segregation, etc etc) and idiotic populations within this country (why hello there creationists), you wouldn't take me seriously, nor should you.
You are particularly unfair to the Germans. The atrocities of WWII have penetrated very deeply into their consciousness and I dare say you didn't suggest to your hosts that they were deep down in fact really all genocidal butchers - because while you can snarkily imply that behind your wall of anonymity here on the Internet, you wouldn't have the balls to say it person. Especially because it isn't true, and you know it. You are the same flesh and blood they are - today's Germans are no more and no less capable of genocide than you or I.
Or do you subscribe to the idea that some people are just biologically murderous? That theory sounds familiar, I just can't place where I've heard it before...
It has been 60 years since the German people committed one of the greatest atrocities ever, during which time they have striven mightily to purge themselves of the influences that led to that crime. They are now confronting their first major geopolitical challenge which requires them to display some strength and assertiveness, and they are treading very carefully. Now your response is to tell them they might as well get on with the genocide since we all know that is where it is going. Very helpful indeed.
It is extremely un-American to think that people or a culture can't change. I'm shocked, disappointed, and angered by what I've read here today.
Which part in particular do you think is wrong? To be clear, I'm not taking the position that Europe will snap, only that they might. As for the distance of history, Europeans were slaughtering Muslims without regard as recently as the last decade, and only American intervention put an end to it.
Now, I grant you that there is a certain unfairness in speaking of "Europeans" as if they were one people, just as we should not speak of "Latin Americans," "Africans" or "Arabs" as if they are all one. Fine. But the point still holds: Europe has a much less healthy relationship with the Muslims in its midst because it has lost the confidence to defend its own culture. My theory is that it has lost that confidence largely out of guilt over its past. When Europe overcomes that guilt and again becomes confident in the triumphs of Western civilization, what will it do about the unintegrated Muslims in its midst, who assert their "right" to extinguish free discussion of religion? How will Europe resolve this? Is there really no possibility that it will not turn brutal?
For what little it may be worth, both my wife and I are descended from Germans, and I am proud of my German heritage. If it were in the genes, I'd have my own problems. No, I think the question is whether it is in the culture, and whether two generations is enough to eradicate it so thorouoghly that even the extreme pressures of Islamist cultural subversion -- and that is what has been happening in Europe -- do not, eventually, trigger a reaction.
Fatwa or not, the man's life and the lives of his family are in peril.
I greatly adimire him for saying in his radio interview after going into hiding that he has "no regrets. I have given a lot of thought in writing this text".
Le Figaro, which published the original article, came up with a small item where they said they stand for "freedom of speech", but have taken out the internet page with the article, and already apologized in A-Jazeera. Not quite a display of valor.
It appears you have missed the point of tigerhawk's post.
"...Or do you subscribe to the idea that some people are just biologically murderous? That theory sounds familiar, I just can't place where I've heard it before..."
Biology has nothing to do with it. It's about culture. Europe's history abounds with unspeakably atrocious behavior between ethnic groups and nations which continues to this day ie Yugoslavia... yes, we are contempories with Milosevic, are we not? If Europeans aren't squabling amongst themselves, they are implanting their heads firmly up their asses, unwilling to do what they KNOW in their collective marrow needs to be done.
American slavery, on the other hand, was officially ended BY THE STATE in 1865. And don't give that baloney about American racism in the 21ST century; racists are pariahs today, and are actively pursued and prosecuted. Oh, and although I'm not a practising Christian, I wouldn't call Benedict "idiotic", or perhaps some fundamentalist creationist might come and "crusade" on my butt. I'm quite certain YOU would be the first to post "See, those damn idiotic Christians!" But "jihad" on people like Redeker, oh, big deal, mustn't over-react.
Go ahead, shrink from truth if you want to. The fact is, as things heat up (and they will), Europe will be compelled to make a choice.
Either they will fundamentally change their social order (yes, curtailment of civil rights specifically targeting some groups... read "Nazism"), or not-so-slow cultural suicide (demographics HEAVILY favour the 20 million plus Muslim populations, a MAJORITY of which favour such things as Sharia, so I've read in many polls).
Or... the Europeans can start to face the truth of matters RIGHT NOW, and stridently disband madrassas, prosecute imams by the hundreds (thousands?), bust up riots (billy clubs, anyone?)... in other words, serve notice NOW that they will not be trifled with.
I abhor what will happen in the next 20 years if they don't clean house NOW. People compare the times we are living to 1938. Looks more like the late 1920s or early 1930s to me, and we all know who won an election in Germany in , what was it, '33?
"Go ahead, shrink from truth if you want to."
He knows the truth but cannot bear to admit it. Vilifying as racists those who oppose islamic fascism is just his way of reassuring himself that he's right.
You are the same flesh and blood they are - today's Germans are no more and no less capable of genocide than you or I.
If that is true--and I think it is more true than not--it should give us all pause to consider that any group, if pushed hard enough, is going to react--most likely violently and badly.
To my way of thinking, that is just one more argument for doing whatever we possibly can do now to relieve the pressure before the pot explodes. (And no, that is most definitely not a call to appeasement.)
Rather than get into an argument about "blood and soil" and who is or isn't a Nazi, consider this from another viewpoint.
Donald Sensing of "One Hand Clapping" (the blog) has asked for essays asking if "democracy" is compatible or incompatible with Islam.
We can rhetorically reverse the question, as Tigerhawk has suggested: When will the democratic governments of Europe react to the monomania of harsh Islamic attitudes, in their midst (not in the Middle East or elsewhere, but IN Europe), before the react to protect that which they are alleged to value?
Lincoln once said that the whole of the Constitution was not ransom to its separate parts (I think in response to the suspension of the writ of habeus corpus), and Thomas Jackson also said that the Constitution was "not a suicide pact."
The US Congress has spoken this week about the status of non-uniformed combatants captured and their treatment. Some say this eviscerates the Constitution, others say it is a necessary tool for protection. Regardless, the people's repesentatives have spoken.
What will the parliaments of Europe have to say in the years to come? This is not just about an angry man in black with a nightstick.
phrizz said: (unless he got his words mixed up, even then it gives a clue to his mindset)
"They try to integrate with Muslims, they are accepting terrorism and bowing down to the sheiks."
Yep, they are trying to intergrate WITH the Muslims, instead of the other way around.
You know, the time honored way, where the immigrants intergrate WITH the inhabitants of the country that they migrate TO.
Another clue: "You are the same flesh and blood they are - today's Germans are no more and no less capable of genocide than you or I."
Yea, we all are from the same blood, but as you know the human race as a whole is a murderous, barbaric bunch. It always has been. Its not any different today, its the same blood. The culture in different areas of the world dictate how thick the membrane is between the barbarian and the civilized person.
Or how he reacts to danger.
Does he call the police, or does he pick up a gun and confront the danger?
Even here in these somewhat United States, the culture differences are easy to spot. If you have been around this Republic or have put some study into it, you will know that Americans as a whole are made up of many cultures, but because of their "Americanization" (is that a word?) they are not like your average [e]uropean (old or new).
When you cross over into the south and southwest of this Republic, you have no trouble seeing that these people are really friendly. But if you study people, like some do, you might pick up on something else.
"These" people are survivors, the membrane that seperates them from the barbarians is thin, thinner than in other parts of this Republic and much thinner than some parts of the world.
So, yes, some Americans are more capable of genocide than other Americans and Germans.
Where I live, the most important thing is survival of the family, our children and our women. Nothing is higher than that except God. Our country comes right after our family and way before our lives.
Yep, we are willig to die for our country and for our families, but we don't intend to. We intend to make the Islamics die for their Allah. They seem to want to get there so fast, we will be glad to send them.
We will not be compared to nor suffer from liberal fools or people who will go into cultural suicide like the Jews went into the concentration camps.
Yea, I have the blood of Norsemen, Englishmen and Scotsmen, but I'm a fourth generation Texan and I know that my State, my County, my City, my Friends, and my family will fight Islam and it's followers until they are destroyed and nothing more than a bad memory.