Leaving Islam




There Is Something Healthy in the State of Denmark

by Srdja Trifkovic 


Denmark’s government, her media and the public at large, continue to defy the prevalent spirit of Western decrepitude by refusing to eat humble pie over some half-dozen mildly satirical cartoons of Muhammad, the inventor of Islam. Every American by now has heard about those cartoons, but very few have actually seen, thanks to our mainstream media’s strange view of what actually constitutes “all the news fit to print.” The cartoons, originally published in the Jyllands-Posten, have prompted a fresh round of anti-Western rage in the Muslim world and among Muslim immigrants in Europe. It looks like there will be no apology coming from Copenhagen, however, no matter how many Danish consulates burn in Dar al Islam, or how resolutely Iranians and others pursue their announced boycott of Danish products (which is unlikely to hurt anyway: being "pious" they don’t consume Tuborg or Carlsberg, and they wouldn’t touch the succulent, lightly smoked Crown ham.)

The U.S. State Department, by contrast, has effectively sided with Jihad by condemning the newspapers in Denmark, Norway, and elsewhere in Europe that have published those cartoons. On February 3 a State Department press officer, one Janelle Hironimus, declared that “inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable.” “We call for tolerance and respect for all communities,” she went on, “and for their religious beliefs and practices.”

Ms. Hironimus and her bosses are guilty of a fourfold blunder. First of all, they are guilty of gross misrepresentation of fact: The cartoons in question do not incite hatred—religious, ethnic, or any other. Muhammad telling suicide bombers arriving in heaven to stop coming as he’d ran out of virgins, or wearing a turban containing a stick of dynamite, is somewhat funny and mildly satirical. It is not outrageous by any sane standard.

They are also guilty of arrogance: it is not the job of a foreign ministry to pass judgments on cultural matters, or to set standards of “acceptability.” Its job is to promote the country’s interests around the world. In this particular case those interests entail siding with a brave, little fellow-Western society in defending freedom of speech against crude intimidation by our common enemies.

Even more troubling is the hypocrisy, endemic in Washington anyway. The U.S. government did not comment when far worse cases of inciting religious and ethnic hatred occurred here in America, notably when an NEA-funded “artist” submerged a crucifix in his urine, when the Chicago Tribune published a cartoon in 1992 depicting “the Serbs” as a pig emerging from a latrine, or when a winner of the Turner Prize depicted Holy Virgin Mary using “polyester resin, map pins, and elephant dung on linen.” Anti-Muslim images are as unacceptable as “anti-Christian images, or [those insulting to] any other religious belief,” Ms. Hironimus’ colleague Sean McCormack declared at a State Department press briefing on the same day (February 3), but he was not telling the truth.

And finally, we are witnessing the ongoing delusion at Foggy Bottom about the effect U.S. appeasement will have on the Muslim world. If the State Department believes that it will earn some brownie points for America in the streets of Cairo or Peshawar by betraying the Danes, it is merely repeating Clinton’s Balkan folly of the 1990s and Brzezinski’s Afghan blowback a decade earlier; and “not to learn from history is to be a child for ever” (Cicero).

While Danish artists have every right to draw and publish cartoons that mock Muhammad, and while various bien-pensants, busybodies and jihad’s fellow-travelers who suggest otherwise deserve our studied contempt, the entire debate is based on flawed assumptions.

The real problem is this: a figure as disturbing as the founder of Islam should not be gently made fun of, at least not until his remarkable career has been given a vigorous public treatment in the Western world.

The trouble with those cartoons is not at all that they offend fervent Muslims—that sort are offended by our very existence—but that by their placid humor they humanize a man with a hugely problematic legacy, and thereby offended the memory of untold millions of victims of Jihad through the ages.

Ahmed Akkari, spokesman of the Muslim organizations in Denmark, said that Muslims all over the world want the “truth” about their prophet to become known to the rest of the world. “We want respect for Muhammad restored and we want him to be described as the man he really was in history,” he declared.

In the spirit of multicultural tolerance and interfaith dialogue we willingly take the challenge. We’ll briefly examine Muhammad as “he really was in history,” relying exclusively on the orthodox Islamic sources: the Kuran and the hadith, or recorded “traditions” about the prophet. Those sources provide an account of uncertain historical accuracy, but that account is regarded as true by all true Muslims and it provides the scriptural basis for the Muslim faith and the Islamic law.

Muhammad was both the prophet of the religion he invented cca. 610 AD and the creator of a political ideology and a social program associated with it. He also remains, to all true Muslims, the paragon of goodness. Imitatio Muhammadi is reflected in the prevalence of his name in the Muslim world. Understanding him is the key to grasping the Muslim world outlook.

Of Muhammad’s life we are informed from the Kuran (English convert Marmaduke Muhammad Pickthall’s 1930 translation is still the best by far) and the far more voluminous hadith, recorded “traditions” about the prophet. Those sources provide an account of uncertain historical accuracy, but it is regarded as true by all true Muslims and it provides the scriptural basis for the Muslim faith and the Islamic law.

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