Preserving ‘Harmony’ for Islamic Radicals
Geert Wilders is barred from entering the United Kingdom.
By Andrew C. McCarthy
It has come to this: If you are an Islamic radical, trained to carry out terrorist atrocities in al-Qaeda’s jihad against the United Kingdom, the British will welcome you with open arms. Not content with that, Great Britain will lobby insistently for your release from custody so that you may freely roam British streets—and the halls of Westminster.
If, by contrast, you are a duly elected representative in the democratic government of a country to which England is bound in the European Union, and you speak about the undeniable—though mulishly denied—nexus between Islamic doctrine and jihadist terror, Great Britain will slam her door in your face.
That is the lesson in the appalling saga of Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament and Exhibit Umpty-Umpth illustrating the depths of capitulation to which the West has sunk in its half-hearted bid for cultural survival.
On Tuesday, British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith took time out of her busy schedule of protecting from extradition Britain’s expanding roster of resident terrorists to warn Wilders that he was not welcome in the country—notwithstanding that the vision of Europe as a “union” is supposed to mean that Europeans may travel freely within it. Quite apart from the fact that Wilders is a government official of the Netherlands, he was not visiting the U.K. on a lark. He was the invited guest of Malcolm Pearson, a member of the House of Lords. Lord Pearson and Baroness Caroline Cox (a human-rights activist who has worked tirelessly on behalf of enslaved and oppressed Christians and Muslims in Sudan) had asked Wilders to screen his short, controversial film, Fitna.
Wilders is a lightning rod. In the great tradition of the Enlightenment, and to the consternation of post-sovereign Europe, he faithfully reports what his senses perceive. When he studies the Koran, he finds exhortations to violence. When he reads Allah’s command in Sura 9:5 that “when the sacred months have passed,” Muslims must “slay the idolaters wherever ye find them,” he entertains the outlandish idea that this means what it plainly says, and is understood by many Muslims as doing so. He has noticed, after all, that this passage is not singular, that its injunction is a recurrent theme in the Koran, and that the sentiment is even more pronounced in the Hadith and other Islamic scriptures, which elevate jihad—in its original, accurate, military sense: waging war against unbelievers—to the highest form of worship. He has noticed, moreover, that Muslim militants seem to slay the idolaters and other unbelievers with some regularity.
So Wilders is not making this up. It is, in fact, a view of Muslim doctrine he shares with some of the world’s most renowned authorities on the subject. There is, for instance, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the inspiration for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and also, according to Osama bin Laden, for the 9/11 attacks. Rahman’s leadership position in the global jihad stems solely from his scholarship—he is a doctor of Islamic jurisprudence and a graduate of Egypt’s al-Azhar University, the seat of Sunni learning. Or, to cite another example (and I could cite many others), there is Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who fomented international rioting over cartoons of Mohammed and who urges jihadists to continue the fight “in Palestine, in Iraq, in Lebanon, and in every country that has been conquered by foreigners.” Our own State Department describes Qaradawi as an “intelligent and thoughtful voice” from the Middle East who “deserves our attention.”
For his trouble in pointing out the ability of doctrine to inspire action, Wilders has been indicted in Holland for “inciting hatred.” Prosecutors initially declined to pursue the case, but they have been overruled by Amsterdam’s craven court of appeals, which is paralyzed by dread of upsetting Dutch Muslims, who have been known to erupt in murderous riots over perceived slights.
Fitna runs about 15 minutes long. It depicts a phenomenon familiar to Britons who witnessed July 7 and Americans who lived through September 11: The faithful rendition of verses from the Koran, often recited by influential Islamic clerics, followed by acts of terrorism committed by Muslim militants who profess that they are simply putting those scriptures into action. To be sure, this is not the dominant interpretation among the world’s billion-plus Muslims, most of whom do not so much interpret their creed as ignore those parts that would otherwise trouble them. But to deny that Fitna reflects an intellectually consistent construction of Islam, adhered to by an energetic minority, is to deny reality.
Wilders, consequently, discerns parallels between the Koran and Adolph Hitler’s polemic, Mein Kampf. Let’s set aside the fact that the German kampf and the Arabic jihad convey the same meaning—struggle. The analogy pressed by Wilders is hardly foreign to British ears. As Middle East expert Daniel Pipes and researcher Andrew Bostom have noted, none less than Winston Churchill himself, in his history of the Second World War, described Mein Kampf as “the new Koran of faith and war: turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message.” One needn’t accept the analogy (Pipes, for example, does not) to concede it is not a frivolous one.
Today’s Britain, however, is not the Britain of Churchill and free expression, but of Jacqui Smith and multicultural hypersensitivity. Wilders intended to screen his film in the House of Lords in late January, but his trip was postponed due to the machinations of Nazir Ahmed, a Labour lord and grievance-industry agitator of the first order. As the Hudson Institute’s Thomas Landen reports, Lord Ahmed threatened to mobilize 10,000 rabble-rousers to prevent Wilders from entering Parliament. When the trip was rescheduled for this week, Smith’s office issued a curt letter apprising Wilders that he would not be admitted into the country. According to the letter, Wilders’s “statements about Muslims and their beliefs, as expressed in your film Fitna and elsewhere, would threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the U.K.” Later, the Home Office laughably maintained that by barring Wilders it was perforce barring “extremism, hatred, and violent messages.”
Of course, extremism, hatred, and violent messages have found a comfortable home in the birthplace of Western civil rights, where “community harmony” means that jihadists talk and you listen. In 2005, Lord Ahmed hosted a book launch for Joran Jermas, one of Sweden’s most rabid anti-Semites, who predictably ranted about the “Jewish supremacy drive,” the Jews as the “one reason for wars, terror and trouble” in the Middle East, and Zionist “control” of Western mass media. The following year, his guest at Westminster, a building that happens to be one of al-Qaeda’s most coveted targets, was Mahmoud Suliman Ahmed Abu Rideh, who attended a session of the House of Commons. Before his release in 2005, Abu Rideh, a Palestinian, had been detained under Britain’s Terrorism Act of 2001 (an enactment later voided by the law lords as a violation of human rights) due to al-Qaeda connections and threats to carry out a bombing plot. Not to worry: Abu Rideh explained that he didn’t leave his family to go to Afghanistan for jihad, but to set up a charitable school for children. Next case.
Suspected al-Qaeda members are welcome in Parliament, but not a member of the Dutch parliament. Britain has a revolving door for Islamic radicals but a closed door for their democratic critics. In 2004, British authorities insisted that the Bush administration return to the U.K. all Britons who, having been captured fighting with the enemy in Afghanistan and elsewhere, were held at Guantanamo Bay. After President Bush acceded, the former detainees were promptly released.
Not content with that, the Brits proceeded to demand that non-British detainees be shipped to England from Gitmo if they had any basis to claim legal U.K. residence. Despite the Pentagon’s protestations that these detainees were extremely dangerous, the Bush administration again relented. As night follows day, in late 2007, British authorities set the suspected terrorists free. And when this move aroused grave public concern, Lord Peter Henry Goldsmith, a former attorney general, gave voice to the Labour government’s dismissive party line: It did not matter whether the men were dangerous, because at stake was a “principle . . . which is more important.” “The principle,” Lord Goldsmith piously proclaimed, “is fundamental civil liberties.”
Indeed. Fundamental civil liberties for those committed to destroying the ever-diminishing British way of life. Cassandra has been shown the door.
— National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy is the author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad (Encounter Books, 2008).