HRS International

Islam = a religion of fear and threats?

The Islam that leading Muslim spokespeople represent is increasingly taking on the lineaments of a religion of fear and threats. Now that Norway has taken a quantum leap in the debate on hijab – the prime minister has proposed that the government rule on whether individual scholls may prohibit hijab – the spokespeople are growing more and more aggressive, and are indirectly threatening violence. In addition, the same people who have called us at HRS “extremists” are now slapping the same label on major Labor Party politicians. What this suggests is that the Islamist groups are starting to crack.

Hege Storhaug, HRS

I almost feel like smiling when I see the labels that are now being tossed around at editorial meetings and making their way into print. After all, I have a certain experience with being described in rather indelicate terms by Communists and Islamists when I have proposed bans on the import of cousins through marriage (which led Mohammed Usman Rana to say that ”the Pakistanis will be very provoked” – meaning, perhaps, that they would become angry and perhaps also violent?), medical check-ups to put an end to genital mutilation, various rules designed to protect young people from transcontinental collective marriages (such as the requirement that they be over 24 years old and have a connection to Norway), a ban on the niqab and burka in public and on the hijab in schools. Then the real extremists step up with their “extremist” labels. But for me, the very fact that I have been labeled in such a way by the parties in question has been watertight proof that I’m on the right track. The day that the imams and Usman Rana praise my views, I hope that all of HRS’s supporters will withdraw their support for us – unless, of course, the imams and the Ranas convert to liberal values.

Now a solid, respectable leading politician is being labeled in the same way: Helga Pedersen, second leader in Labour Party, has been dubbed the “dark woman” by the covert dark man, Usman Rana, who in his use of language comes up to somewhere around the middle of the Islamist Tariq Ramadan’s calf. One wonders what Pedersen thinks when she reads such things about herself? I would guess that at first it gave her a start. But I can assure her that after a few more rounds of this, she’ll get over it: the dark words – which are meant as a threat – and which are enunciated in an aggressive tone – go right into the ditch and stay there.

It is Dagbladet which has uncritically given space to various individuals who can be counted on to serve up extreme comments about a ban on hijab in schools. Here is Usman Rana:

“Helga Pedersen is emerging as Norway’s dark woman and a threat to liberal democracy when she wants the state to function as a moral police. How is Norway to have international credibility in its encounters with the clothing police in Iran when Peterson calls for totalitarian attitudes in Norway?” Usman Rana told Dagbladet. He interprets Pedersen’s comments as a symptom of the fact that Muslim visibility is viewed as a problem in Norway, and he is seriously concerned about the consequences. “The results of comments like this are that many young Muslims feel harassed and become frustrated. They feel like foreigners in their own country. Such a situation provides fertile soil for radicalization and plays into the hands of the extremists. I know this, because I know the community and it worries me,” Rana says.

Pedersen a threat to liberal democracy! The Iran example is howlingly funny, too: Iran forces women into subjugation and identifies them as second-class citizens in the public space, while Norway is now considering liberating girls in school from being ads for politicized religion and from being identified as different from and of lesser value than boys. Yes, yes, there are doubtless some people in Rana’s Islamist ranks (and among the Communists) who feel his example is terrific, but he cannot exactly be accused of being intellectually profound,

What is most thought-provoking here, however, is the threat of radicalization if Islam is not permitted to spread it wings throughout our society, even to the point of placing its mark on schoolchildren. The unambiguous message, then, is this: “if we don’t get what we want, there will be violence.” For if we don’t get what we want, that will be tantamount to harassment, that is, persecution. Surely a counterreaction from the ranks of those who supposedly represent the religion of peace is not far off?

(By the way, isn’t it interesting what strong feelings these supposedly innocent articles of clothing awaken?)

The hypocrisy and the threats are striking. It is a repeating pattern, and the hypocrisy and the threats have been allowed to persist for years and years by the media and politicians. We can hope that when the Socialist Left politician Heikki Holmaas, who is moving toward supporting a hijab ban, experiences this culture of threats, he will grasp the seriousness of the situation – that he will come to understand a fundamental aspect of Islam and hence perceive the direction in which our society has moved.

That Conservative politician Erling Lae, a gay Christian and a former head of the Oslo City Council, is on the same team as Usman Rana (who has refused as a Muslim to criticize Iran’s death penalty for homosexuals), says a lot about how far both the Conservatives and the Christian Democrats have to go to understand the struggle of values related to Islam. Unless the Conservatives wake up before the 2013 election, in which many expect the red-green government to be voted out, how will the Progress Party be able to run a coalition government with a party whose values, as far as immigration and integration policies are concerned, are closest to those of the Socialist Left and the equally unsexy Liberals (who are so liberal and tolerant that they even defend outfits like the burka).

Lae, who has been totally taken in by the victim rhetoric, says:

“It borders on persecution of Muslims. The hijab has never been a problem in Oslo schools. This is all about condescension and a misguided notion of equality,” says Lae….He now heads up a Conservative Party integration committee and fears that a ban can go completely wrong.

”A hijab ban is an expression of a prudish guardian-like attitude that comes close to bullying. It’s dangerous because it can provide fertile soil for radicalization in certain communities.”

Then he asks, for heaven’s sake, how the hijab ban has worked out in France. Ask him why he thinks it’s OK for children to fly the flag of their parents’ ideology, whether it’s swelteringly hot out or way below freezing. Ask him why his concern for his fellowman is directed at the adults and imams and not the children. Ask him whether by taking this position he is, in fact, contributing to radicalization: look, we Muslims are being bullied and persecuted!

Lae is one of those people who genuinely appear to have been completely taken in on the question of Islam and values. I think he believes that Islam and Christianity really are twins. Thus does he contribute – without even realizing it himself – to the institution of forced marriage.

Iffit Qureshi, too, has been handed a microphone by Dagbladet. First she makes a claim that she can’t document, namely that the hijab is not a problem:

“The hijab is not a real problem, but has been turned into one. We don’t need a government moral police that tells us how to dress. The proposed ban gives rise to prejudice against a religious group,” she tells Dagbladet.She notes that the oppression of minorities has historically created great divisions.

“We also risk turning a little girl into a ball that’s being tossed back and forth between the parents and school. She doesn’t get to feel secure about her own religion,” says Qureshi.

The comparison with the “moral police” [a reference to those whose job it is to keep the faithful in line in Norway’s Muslim communities] is completely off. After all, what is it but morality – sexual purity – that the “parental and imam police” are imposing upon girls by making them wear hijab? And no, Qureshi, we don’t have prejudices, we have knowledge – and the knowledge that more and more of us are acquiring is, of course, difficult for all of you to take. Because that knowledge makes it impossible for you to manipulate us as easily as you used to.

As for the business about children’s “own religion” – yes, girls wearing hijab in the schoolyard have indeed become a ball: a ball being tossed back and forth between the Islamists and Communists, neither of whom will let go of the ball. The girls aren’t supposed to develop an individual, and thus secure, identity.

Translated from the Norwegian by Bruce Bawer

Click here for more articles in English