Note: this post contains my first attempt at translating modern idiomatic Danish. Danish readers are invited to correct me. My vocabulary is fairly good (with the help of the dictionary), but I’m still shaky on the idioms. If I’ve departed from the sense of the text, please let me know. Nit-pickers are welcome!
Update: Skjoldungen helped me correct a sentence in the fourth paragraph — a complete reversal of the meaning! Thank you, Skjoldungen.
Naser Khader is an honest-to-Allah moderate Muslim, an outspoken critic of radical Islam, and a member of the Danish parliament. He has taken great risks by forming the Democratic Muslims (Demokratiske Muslimer), a political organization dedicated to the integration of Denmark’s Muslims with the country’s democratic political institutions.
The controversy over the suppressed PBS documentary has brought Naser Khader to the attention of policymakers here in the United States, since he is one of the Muslims featured in the film. He also happens to be visiting the USA this week, as reported in this article in Sunday’s Jyllands-Posten [my translation]:
Strong interest in Naser Khader in the USA
by Pernille Ammitzbøll
Americans are showing a strong interest in the [Danish] parliamentary politician Naser Khader — who during this week is visting Washington and Boston — especially after a TV documentary about moderate and radical Muslims, including Naser Khader among others, was withdrawn.
The broadcast “Islam versus Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center”, which deals with Islamism and the subject of Mohammed, was produced by PBS (Public Broadcasting Service). It has set tempers flaring in the USA, which is also experiencing problems with self-censorship, and in which one is not allowed to criticize the more radical groups among the Muslims, as Naser Khader does in the broadcast.
That has also implied an internal critic of the broadcast within PBS — which may be compared with DR [Danish National Radio] — who has so far has prevented the documentary from being shown.
Attack on moderates
Also appearing in the broadcast are the imam Abu Laban, a Danish inmate at Guantanamo named Slimane Hajd Abderrahmane, and the recently sentenced Said Mansour, all of whom come with a pronounced hostility towards moderate Muslims. Among other things, the prominent leader Slimane Hajd Abderrahmane claims that a Muslim who participates in democracy is a lapsed Muslim, and that is something that only Allah can judge. A lapsed Muslim, according to a strict interpretation of Islam, is under a sentence of death.
The Washington Times has written a feature article as recently as April 13th entitled “In praise of moderate Muslims”, which demands that the TV documentary be aired. The article describes Naser Khader as the documentary’s absolutely central figure, who has with unjust certainty paid a high personal price for actively taking part in Danish democracy.
Khader as symbol
The debate has shown that in the USA as well, Naser Khader stands out as a symbol for the struggle against both self-censorship and radical Islam. This focus has resulted in members of Congress and senators asking to meet Naser Khader.
Here’s another article about Naser Khader’s visit from today’s Berlingske Tidende, this one translated by Kepiblanc:
– – – – – – – – – –
American TV refuses to air a documentary featuring Naser Khader. Moderate American Muslims disagree and intend to start an international organization in cooperation with Khader.
WASHINGTON: Naser Khader is more critical of extremist Muslims than an American audience seemingly can digest. The left-liberal politician and MP has a leading part in a new controversial documentary with Denmark and the Mohammed cartoon crisis as its subject and it depicts a worldwide battle between moderates and extremists within Islam.. But the largest public TV network in the USA — PBS — now refuses to show the movie. According to PBS it is “extremely unilateral” and “demonizes” Muslims.
“I don’t understand it. These are Swedish conditions” says Naser Khader, who finds the movie “good”: “I like it. Everyone should support a project which aims to prevent a minority from getting a monopoly on how to understand Islam. That almost happened in Denmark up until the Mohammed-crisis”.
The movie was shown at a private venue in Washington Tuesday, and again last night for members of Congress. Moderate American Muslims praise the movie and criticize PBS for strangling an important debate. At the same time they express great interest in Naser Khader’s organization of Democratic Muslims in Denmark. With Khader as a main inspiration they will now try to establish an international organization to counter extremism and demonstrate that Islam can function inside a Western democracy.
“The world needs to hear more balanced voices from the Muslim community. If we are to defeat the extremist factions we have to be as well-organized as they are” says Zainab Al-Suwaij, director of American Islamic Congress which has 3,000 members in the USA. Muslims from a host of other countries are participating as well. Naser Khader hopes that the organization can be launched at a conference in Copenhagen and will have its main office there.
One of Mr. Khader’s stops on his American itinerary is at the Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies, at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, where he will take part in a conference entitled “Islam in Democratic Societies: The Struggle Between Radical and Moderate Islam and the Future of Islam in the West”.
From the official description of the conference:
The overarching theme of the conference explores the need for governments – particularly those in the West – to support moderate Muslim organizations and thinkers.
Six prominent contemporary Muslim intellectuals from both Europe and the United States will, in two panel discussions, analyze the current tensions within the Muslim world, focusing on Muslim communities in democratic, non-Muslim majority countries. The first panel will outline the ongoing struggle between moderates and radicals for the leadership and representation of Muslim communities in the West. The second panel will address the issue of what democratic governments can do to support organizations that foster moderate interpretations of Islam by presenting three cases of recently-established progressive Muslim organizations.
In line with the Jebsen Center’s goals, this conference focuses on prediction and prevention: the global campaign against terrorism must involve the moderate sectors of Muslim communities. One powerful way to isolate and deter radical elements is to empower the moderate voices in the Muslim community and maker their message a viable alternative to fundamentalist ideology. This event will offer an innovative approach to the war on terror and concrete policy options to fight extremism within our societies.
We’ve seen a lot of discussion about the “moderate Muslim” in this space, with some contributors and commenters arguing that such a creature does not really exist. But Naser Khader is most definitely a Muslim, and most definitely a moderate.
According to the Danes I talked to, the man is sincere and dedicated. He has put his life on the line by urging Danish Muslims to stand with their infidel countrymen and support freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and constitutional democracy in their adopted homeland.
One of the nights I was at Steen’s apartment, a group that included Fjordman and Steen discussed Mr. Khader at length. Everyone agreed on the central problem: the Democratic Muslims are a dwindling group, reduced to less than half the size they were several years ago. They still have significant support, but most of it comes from the Danes, and not from Muslim immigrant groups. Naser Khader gains very little backing within Denmark’s Islamic community.
The Danes are ahead of the rest of the West in most of their political trends, and unfortunately the attrition of the “moderate Muslims” is probably no exception.
Let there be no doubt: these are brave people, who risk their lives to assert the rights that we in the West have so long taken for granted. As far as Muslims are concerned, the West is all too eager to cede those rights to the radicals. With little support from any direction, the moderates are hard-pressed to stand against the tide: most of them must either disappear into apostasy, join the Great Jihad, or be killed for their blatant heresy. Maintaining their moderation is a very difficult task indeed.
Moderate Islam is like an unstable and radioactive chemical element, gradually decaying into more stable isotopes.
It is untenable in the long run, and will someday cease to exist. Those who adopt modernity will repudiate Islam; those who refuse modernity will never be moderates.
The stable cultural isotopes that remain will be:
- radical Muslims (that is, Muslims who are true to the Koran),
- apostates who have escaped into the background culture of the West, and
- dead apostates who didn’t escape.
All other positions are simply too unstable to persist.
This eventuality will bring a clarity to our situation that we currently lack. The Counterjihad will at last be disambiguated.
But, in the meantime, we must give our support to Muslims like Mr. Khader, who risk their lives and their families for the sake of our Western values. There are few enough like him, and they are almost certainly doomed.
Hat tips: From the Danish side, Steen; from the American side, MR. And mange tak to Kepiblanc, who sent in the unsolicited translation. A synchronicity seems to be at work here tonight!