By Hege Storhaug, HRS
Thanks to the mainstream Norwegian press, these wolves in sheep’s clothing have been able to broadcast their message far and wide. It is nothing less than striking, then, that Knut Olav Åmås, the opinion editor of Aftenposten, Norway’s newspaper of record, has now turned his back on Europe’s leading Islamist, Tariq Ramadan, and praised the freethinker Ayaan Hirsi Ali. As if it were the most natural thing in this debate – and without a single critical comment about himself or his own newspaper – Knut Olav Åmås has scored a K.O. against Tariq Ramadan in the pages of Aftenposten. But note this: the last Norwegian who climbed into the ring with Ramadan, heavily armed against his seductive rhetoric – was Walid al-Kubaisi, born in Bagdad. In all of Norway there is no one with a Muslim background who has more intellectual weight than al-Kubaisi. Åmås didn’t mention al-Kubaisi in his commentary. Why not? Al-Kubaisi is a freethinker who took up the delicate topics related to Islam and immigration from the Muslim world as early as the late 1980s. Al-Kubaisi has never been welcomed into the sober salons (thank God), has never had a regular column in one of the major newspapers (Aftenposten, VG, or Dagbladet), has never won a prize for putting his life on the line for over 20 years in order to exercise the most precious right we have – freedom of speech. Fritt Ord (Norway’s most prestigious prize for freedom of expression) decided this year to present an award to an Islamist, Bushra Ishaq – with, one might add, the support of Åmås. Nothing would have been more natural for Åmås to do in his column than to praise al-Kubaisi. But he ignored him. Again. What a shame.
Åmås has plainly read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s brand-new book, Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey through the Clash of Civilizations, and Paul Berman’s new book, The Flight of the Intellectuals. Norwegian and other Western intellectuals’ infatuation with Ramadan now amazes Åmås. Why, he asks, is Ramadan the hero and Hirsi Ali the villain in the tea salons? My answer: look in the archives of your own newspaper, where Åmås, for example, would find this op-ed, in which one can see Aftenposten flirting with the master Islamist manipulator.
Åmås believes that the fear of intimidating Islam and the possible consequences this can lead to explain why Ramadan gets a pat on the head while intellectuals and the media have given Hirsi Ali a thumbs-down. Yes, I think so too. I am convinced that vey many intellectuals think Islam is a deadly ideology. One doesn’t need to be particularly brilliant to get it. It’s enough to have a bird’s-eye perspective on history, on today’s Muslim world, and on Muslim communities in Europe where Islamists have influence at the universities and in the government. Take, for example, the Muslim Student Organization at the University of Oslo, or Islamnett at the College of Oslo, or the Islamic Council. But Åmås, you don’t dare to say this out loud – I presume?
Now that Åmås is changing his tune, why doesn’t he also take a critical look at a highly specific and currently relevant situation in Norway? The Peace School plans to open this autumn with places for 100 children, which will soon be expanded to allow for 200 students. They will be taught about ”human rights in Islam” (!), so that they won’t become jihadists (if we are to believe those who have planned this program). So far neither the media nor the Ministry of Education and Research, which is run by the socialist Kristin Halvorsen, has asked which Islam will be studied. The application says that pupils will be instructed in the authentic version of Islam: “Education is based on the Islamic sources, which are the Koran and the authentic teachings of Muhammed which support and elaborate upon it.” Nothing is said about what Muhammed’s authentic teaching is. The media and the intellectuals’ lukewarm relationship to this project reflects the same lukewarm relationship they have had to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. And the lack of interest in what Norwegian children will be brainwashed with is a reflection of the humble and respectful treatment of Tariq Ramadan.
Does Åmås dare to address this?
It is, moreover, extremely interesting that a colleague of Åmås is coming out this autumn with a biography of Muhammed. Foreign correspondent Halvor Tjønn has studied the best known historical biographies of Muhammed, and it’s clear that the image he presents of Muhammed will spark debate. Tjønn will doubtless be labeled an extremist by the newspaper’s regular contributors, among them the man who is doing his best to become Norway’s Tariq Ramadan, Aftenposten’s own prize-winner, an islamist named Muhammad Usman Rana.
It would take less than this to turn one into a schizophrenic…
Translated to the English by Bruce Bawer