Søren Pind is the spokesman for Denmark’s ruling party (Venstre) on foreign policy issues. This is his blog post from yesterday, translated into English by our Danish correspondent TB.
Islam, the tree and its fruits
A few years ago, I participated in a conference along with some of the world’s leading researchers and military strategists. A one-week intensive course, Chatham House Rules, as it was named.
The overall theme was the Middle East, and every day brought intensive descriptions of culture, traditions, and countries — and for each subject experts attended to whom I asked the question: Why should we not know the tree by its fruits? You know, how can it be that not a single Islamic country has democracy, respect for freedom rights, capitalism, and, on the whole, not even a tendency towards economic and political progress? Half of the wise men answered that there was a connection between Islam and the conditions; the other half refused — which was to me remarkable — to answer the question.
To me this is always the first sign that something is wrong. Completely wrong. When someone refuses to answer. A denial of the current state of affairs would have been liberating. But no. Instead a refusal to answer.
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That was very worrying. And maybe that’s why one sometimes these days has to cross the line between some of these so called provocations and the polite tone. I belong to those who think that one should not step on other people’s religion. I honestly did not like the way Jens Jørgen Thorsen [Danish artist, now dead] presented Jesus [which he did in a very vulgar way]. In my opinion he could do what ever he wanted to — but I did not like it. But no matter what, there are some questions which have to be answered.
The most important question is of course whether Islam — and no, I do not say Islamism because I know that Islamism is dangerous — is compatible with democracy and freedom? I ask into the open air. I ask because the answers I have got up until now were ‘No’ or silence.
Please save me from vulgarities from both sides of this question’s ‘borders’. But can anyone, please, give me a sober answer? Because if the answer does not exist, then the political reality will have to adapt accordingly. But not before we have tried to find an answer. One can choose to see Wilders as a provocateur, but if that were his mission then, however clumsy it might seem, it was worth it.
The question in short is: Should one know the tree by its fruit?