Here are some choice morsels...
On the spread of Islam:
Islam however spread in a relative short time through imperialistic wars of conquest. Not that the conquered were force-converted. Rather, I think the conquerors wouldn’t want them to, because infidels had to pay a special tax. Converts only hurt the treasure trove.On integration of muslims:
The Quran says: ‘Do not conclude an agreement with Jews and Christians, for if you do, you’ll become one of them.’ I know of no better one-liner to say: we are against integration, because it is against the will of God. We should think hard about that. Even politicians need to draw conclusions from that.On holocaust denial by muslims:
Why are Dutch or Flemish neonazies not allowed to deny the holocaust, but muslims are? Just like the Turks deny the massacre of the Armenians. Where will we be, if the West starts self-censoring? If the executive powers do not dare to intervene on the basis of healthy legislation, we are only at the beginning of the troubles.Click 'continue' to read the entire interview
March 25 2005
The Quran doesn’t want integration
Professor Urbain Vermeulen speaks in defence of dialogue with muslims. The real problem is the sharia, the islamic body of law. Muslims need to learn the relativity of it. They need to adjust their religiou law and behavior to western values. “Why aren’t neo-nazies allowed to deny the holocaust, while muslims are?”
“Muslims are about to miss the train of progress. Do those that support them in that, even know what they’re doing? I happen to think it is a hopeful sign that from within muslim communities people like Hirsi Ali and Afshin Ellian stand up and encourage muslims: ‘For once: Think.” Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh as well have sounded the alarm. Aren’t such people being hindered in an awful way? Not just by extremist muslims, but also by ‘nothing to see here’- politicians and publicists? I have seen Submission, but what a normal thinking muslim good perceive negatively about that film is a mystery to me. Because all quoted verses are indeed in the Quran. And the fact that in Somalia, where Hirsi Ali hails from, the most horrific things happen to women has been confirmed by every sociological study.”
Professor Urbain Vermeulen is a driven speaker. In his study in his house in Gent (Belgium), he points to cases full of Arabic books:”Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an islamophobe”, says Vermeulen , untill a couple of years ago chairman of the European Union of Arabists and Islamologues. “I travel to the Arabic world yearly. Next month I am going again. I talk to the people and feel comfortable there. Just as I do in here, among my Arabic texts.” But no matter how much he loves that world, he doesn’t therefor want to relativate western culture: critical-rational thought and open democratic rule of law. In a small book, now in it’s 6th print, “Islam en Christendom” he explains that a dialogue with Islam is possible and necessary. But in order for that dialogue to be fruitful and not degenerate into a “double monologue”, certain prerequisites will have to be met.
KN: Why do you emphasise the difference between Chistendom and Islam. Aren't we all children of Abraham, followers of related mono-theistic revelatory religions?
UV: Christendom has developed in a completely different way. Besides, Islam is a laypersons religion, without any real clergy. It does have another integrating component: politics. Islam is first and foremost a body of law, a judicial system telling the faithful what is and is not allowed. With that message the prophet was sent into the world. So it is about questions such as: Can a man dye his beard. What is to be done about body hair? All questions that are trivial according to our understanding of faith.
KN: So, it is not a religious problem?
UV: Hardly. If muslims want to fast for a month, pray five times a day – which, by the way, doesn’t happen very often in the islamic world – or want to take a vacation to go on a pelgrimage to Mekka, nobody can be really against that. But in their perception other things are much more important: The status of women, head scarfs, ritual slaughter, burial without coffins, soon maybe the introduction of polygamy. Those are problems that hardly touch upon the religious aspect, but has everything to do with the socio-political aspects of Islam. Individual, family and penal law, that’s where the trouble resides.
KN: And about that a consensus is not possible?
UV: It’s difficult, because there’s another difference: In the century of Mohammed, Saint Amandus preached here in Gent. The people didn't like him, threw him in the Schelde river and he drowned. All of this to say that six centuries after Jesus, this place wasn’t converted to Christianity by a long shot. Islam however spread in a relative short time through imperialistic wars of conquest. Not that the conquered were force-converted. Rather, I think the conquerors wouldn’t want them to, because infidels had to pay a special tax. Converts only hurt the treasure trove.
KN: Was Christianity so much better then?
UV: It may have been the domineering religion it was, but there were always two sources of power: the regnum or worldy rules, of which the Emperor was the symbol, and the sacerdotium, the clerical authority of the pope. There always was this tension. In Islam only holy law, the Sharia matters. Society is therefore completely islamic, with a couple of Christians and Jews thrown in, as second-rate citizens. Because that’s what it says in the Quran. They have to be kept in their place. A bookshop-owner in Tunis told me once: ‘Look professor, I’ve got a book here about the status of the protected. When we will rule Europe, you can learn from this book how much better off you will be as a Christian under islamic rule.’ He was fully convinced of what he was saying.
KN: So Islam starts from an unconditional superiority?
UV: Muslims have never had to ask themselves: What do we do in a country where islam does not rule? There is no imam in Europe that thinks about that question. The solution they’ve thought of nevertheless is to behave as if they rule. Hence the demands. Hence the attitude of pretending to live in an islamic country and taking the freedom of ignoring two thousand years of western culture. But if you’ve been granted to live in a society, where the freedom of religion is constitutionally enshrined, could you please be so polite as to be a little more modest? If there’s a law, for instance, that says that animals for slaughter should be anaesthetized first, don’t say it is forbidden by the Quran. It isn’t forbidden by the Quran. Never has the idea entered the mind of the prophet or Allah, simply because in those days there wasn’t something like anaesthesia!
KN: Where do you stand on the head scarf issue?
UV: If you want to wear it in the street or at home, that’s your business. But it shouldn’t be allowed when filling a public office, whether it be in education, the court of public institutions.
KN: And a cashier in a supermarket?
UV: I think those symbols are a form of aggression. Besides, it often happens not entirely voluntary, but under social pressures. The head scarf law in France has been accepted in the mean time. Apparently muslims resign themselves to the facts when a government takes a firm and straight stand. Problems arise with the indecisive, pseudo-tolerant stands by government executives that don’t have the courage to intervene when necessary. And it gets harder and harder, not just through immigration, but also through ‘hidden immigration’, the high birth rate in muslims. Thus there arises a feeling of certain power. ‘We are here and we’ll show it’. Even more and more males are wearing traditional clothing now.
KN: Do you blame this on the indecisive actions of administrations?
UV: The Quran says: ‘Do not conclude an agreement with Jews and Christians, for if you do, you’ll become one of them.’ I know of no better one-liner to say: we are against integration, because it is against the will of God. We should think hard about that. Even politicians need to draw conclusions from that. And Muslims need to ask themselves if they shouldn’t find a new interpretation for that. If not, this will lead to great societal tensions. We think: All people are equal. But Muslims say: ’No. If we get to rule, there’ll be no equality, because Muslims are above all.’
KN: In schools teachers already have difficulties teaching about the holocaust. Muslims won’t hear of it.
UV: The capacity for taking it on the chin in Muslims is extremely small. There are two items they just cannot resolve. First are the Crusades. You cannot imagine the amount of poppycock Muslims have published about them. They make them out to be Christian wars of annihilation. In the mean time, had western historians never told them there even were any Crusades, they wouldn’t have known about them. In their history the Crusades were relatively insignificant border disputes. The second point is the holocaust, which of course relates to the Arab-Israeli problem.
KN: What is your perspective if we concede on this point.
UV: Then we will come into a situation like occurred in Copenhagen a while ago. There, a professor teaching a class on the Quran was roughed up by muslim students. Don’t forget that islam reasons: what has been allowed once, is an acquired right. If you say, even only once, ‘Well, maybe the holocaust wasn’t all that’, it becomes a attainment. And they will take it a step further yet. This cannot be allowed. It is the denial of scientific thought. Why are Dutch or Flemish neonazies not allowed to deny the holocaust, but muslims are? Just like the Turks deny the massacre of the Armenians. Where will we be, if the West starts self-censoring? If the executive powers do not dare to intervene on the basis of healthy legislation, we are only at the beginning of the troubles.