Why is it that you are opposed only to Islam when the Bible too is full of tales of atrocities?
Reader A.T. asked us in March 2010 why we are directing our barbs only against Islam but not against other religions. The Bible, the Torah, and other Jewish writings indeed abound in tales of violence, paedophile behaviour, disdain for women ... To illustrate his point, the reader added dozens of passages from the Holy Scriptures culled from Jewish and Christian writings. The following is our reply:
Belgium has ever since its statehood been a secular state, meaning that its legislation and its administration are entrusted to the people’s representatives and not determined by the Catholic Church, though the Church continues to count the majority of the country’s population as its followers. The Catholic Church has turned into a lobbyist body just like all other lobbies.
In the course of its existence, the Belgian State has continued to place distance between itself and the Catholic Church. It is indeed a fact that Christianity is primarily a spiritual religion, and few amongst its concerns have any relation to the country’s legislation. We list some instances:
- permission to use contraceptives
- permission to perform abortions
- permission to divorce
- permission to practise euthanasia
- permission to practise in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and stem cell research
- acceptance of homosexuality
Except for abortion and euthanasia, the above are themes of concern that have always been permitted in Belgium. Abortion became accepted following a parliamentary vote, when a Christian-Democratic government was in office. Euthanasia also has been found permissible by democratic vote. And, as you must be aware, marriage between gay people has just recently been ruled by the courts permissible under the law. Christian doctors and hospitals only express doubts about abortion and euthanasia, not about birth control and IVF. They are treating both gays and Muslims in the same way as anybody else. My Islamic mother-in-law wearing her hijab has always maintained that she is being treated like a queen in Belgian hospitals, even though the doctors need extra time to treat her since I have to translate everything from and into Arabic for her.
What is written in the Bible is therefore devoid of any interest to us. The battle against the influence exerted by the Catholic Church has been fought and is past, the separation between the faithful and the non-believers is by now a fading issue, and the divorced individual or the non-church goer is not shunned by society. Children that tell their parents they have lost their faith and won’t have their own children baptized are not exiled from the bosom of the family, let alone threatened with death and damnation.
If somebody tells us that he is happy to be able to enter Paradise because Jesus died on the cross to atone for his trespasses, that is perfectly OK with us. He harms nobody by this belief. Belgium does not know Christian groups that attack doctors who perform abortions or people that blow themselves to pieces on a bus because a poster depicting the Holy Virgin with bare breasts is displayed on the door of a theatre. Hence, we are not concerned with either Christianity or with the Bible.
Belgium counts a small congregation of Jews, a secular group that remains inconspicuous, except for the fact that its members are faring very well in our society. There is a sect of Orthodox Jews with unusual customs and wearing strange dress. They have their own schools, hospitals, stores, and they trouble nobody. They just do their own thing. Even though – at least according to you – their scriptures allow them to marry three-year old girls and have sex as of nine years of age, and kill non-Jews without any compunction, they don’t appear to follow these tenets.
It looks like Jewish scholars interpret their scriptures in a way that differs from your own, or, after collaborative perusal and scrutiny of all of the writings, have arrived at the conclusion that the aberrations you mention have no currency in reality. When we look at the “Jewish state” of Israel, we note that Jerusalem has witnessed gay parades, that people from Gaza prefer to put body and soul in the hands of a Jewish physician in Isrqel rather than of an Islamic one in Cairo, and I myself hear from Palestinians that they are begging for an Israeli passport to be able to go live in Israel.
When Muhammed ruled over Medina, it seems the Jews already abandoned the practice of stoning as a punishment for adultery. Muhammad reintroduced this barbaric custom (which was condemned by Jesus) also for Jews and, by analogy, for Christians. The conclusion I draw from the above is that the Jews, whatever their beliefs, are not a problem in Belgium. Hence, we are not interested in what they do or do not believe in.
But Islam is a different story. On the one hand, we witness excesses abroad. We note that these excesses are in keeping with the writings in the Quran and the Hadith, but worse than that, Islamic scholars are repeating these same beliefs in Shari’ah handbooks that are sold today, in 2010. And we are witnessing signs of such excesses appearing in Belgium.
Let me give 4 examples of such excesses:
- call to join the Jihad and resort to all available means of retribution whenever, somewhere in the world, a Muslim receives ill treatment or when Islam as an expression of faith is criticised. The duty to join the Jihad is written in the Quran, in the Hadith, and in the Shari’ah. Right now a case of on terrorism is being conducted before the courts, and this is not the first time either. Young men from Antwerp are leaving for Pakistan to receive training to fight our own Belgian troops in Afghanistan. Publications of cartoons about Muhammad or the Gaza conflict are considered good reasons for the mob to go on a destructive rampage: the Jihad-component is one that is well elaborated on in the Shari’ah, pitting Muslims against non-Muslims and forming an integral part of Islamic teachings. Muslims like yourself bury their heads in the sand and thus avoid reality as if it doesn’t exist.
- violence against women: mentioned in the Quran 4.34, in the Hadith and in the Shari’ah. The refuge shelters in Belgium and the Netherlands are full of Muslim women. I count within my own family a Muslim who used to beat his Dutch wife steadily, eventually driving her with her four children to seek refuge in a woman’s shelter. These people are not on the margins of society, in fact they hold university degrees. This constitutes the second violence-component, in this case directed towards women, as an integral part of Islamic teachings: namely in its determination of the relationship between man and woman. Let me quote an extract from one of today’s newspapers:
"Karima Sellami (24) could not count on a lot of understanding from her parents in the matter of her marital problems. This became apparent from their testimony today before the Antwerp Court of Assises. They showed her the door without much ado since she had wanted to take outside employment against her husband Omar Sellami’s (38) objections. That he gave her a beating as a result, her father considered totally normal. "She was disobedient." Her father Abdelkader had raised his eight children in the traditional Moroccan way, that is, in the conviction that a wife owes respect to her husband, that she must obey him, and that he may beat her if she strays. In his eyes, Karima brought her marriage problems upon herself by her disrespect for Omar, and she deserved a beating."
- killing of apostates: though not clearly stated in the Quran, it is found in the Hadith and also in the Shari’ah. Today, in 2010, it is still a part of the Penal Code in the Sudan, Kuwait, Mauretania... In other countries, apostates are threatened with death, also in Europe and in America. This is the third violence-component in Islamic society, and a flagrant breach of the right to freedom of conscience and freedom of expression.
- the hijab or the general dress prescriptions for girls and women and their contact with men: expressed only vaguely in the Quran, but very clearly in the Hadith and likewise in the Shari’ah. When the principal at an Antwerp school prohibits the wearing of the hijab, she is threatened with death; a gym teacher is roughed up by a father from Oman because his daughter has to wear gym shorts in the phys-ed class; physicians are threatened because a Palestinian refuses to have his wife treated by a male doctor; girls not wearing the hijab are threatened in Muslim districts and called prostitutes, no distinction is made between charwomen and femals ministers; non-Muslim girls have taken to wearing a head cover in Muslim districts to avoid being harassed ... Such problems do not happen in Jewish districts, only in Islamic ones, even though Jews too have their own specific dress codes.
And what then is the situation with Islam in actual practice? Islam urges the faithful to treat their neighbours well, just as is the case in Christianity. Many Muslims act accordingly. They treat Muslims and non-Muslims in the same respectful manner.
These are Muslims with only a limited knowledge of Islamic tenets. They are not aware that they need only behave in the appropriate ways with other Muslims and non-believers whom they hope to convert to Islam, just as Muhammad himself did. According to the Quran, the Hadith, and the Shari’ah, Muslims must, in principle, not enter into friendships with non-Muslims. Most Muslims do not know this, and also are ignorant of the fact that Islam takes for its objective the subjugation of all non-believers to Islamic law, by violent means if need be.
Muslims who are better acquainted with Islamic tenets know this, and today, in 2010, are acting accordingly, hence the acts of terrorism and segregation. Islam in its truest manifestation may today be witnessed live in Saudi-Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, ...
In Belgium, a group has been formed that wants to introduce the Shari’ah into the country: http://sharia4belgium.webs.com/. Hence, all of the above seems to be getting closer and closer to our very doorstep. You know that the Shari’ah prescribes the death penalty for apostates. You are opposed to this. What is your next step? Are you going to tell us now that we are hate-mongers? Or are you going to support our right to leave Islam and address yourself to this group and try to change their mind and convictions? Are you going to write them countless reams of paper trying to convince them that Islam stands for peace and respect for people of different beliefs and persuasions? Are you going to prove to them that Islam’s objective is not to subject the whole world to its own laws and dictates?
I for one will not be holding my breath.