Below is a video of the opening debate of the KVHV (Catholic Higher Students Association) chapter Ghent, October 11, 2009
At the table are:
- Filip Dewinter (fraction leader Vlaams Belang)
- Mieke Van Hecke (managing director VSKO, Flemish Catholic Education Board)
- Prof. Dr. Em. Urbain Vermeulen (Islamicist and classic Arabic, University of Laken/Louvain and the University of Ghent, Deputy Secretary General of the UEAI, European Union of Arabists and Islamicists)
- Moderator: Ivan De Vadder (VRT, Flemish Radio and Television broadcaster)
- Jean-Marie Dedecker (party chairman LDD, List Dedecker)
- Prof. Dr. Johan Leman (professor Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities,
- former director CGKR, Center for Equal Chances and Combat against Racism)
- Karim Hassoun (chairman AEL, Arab European League)
Many thanks to our Flemish correspondent VH for the translation and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitles:
A full transcript is below the jump.
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Islam and Europe #4
00:02 [Ivan de Vadder]
Karim Hassoun, chairman AEL, what do you
think is the place of Islam in Flanders, …
not to limit the question, but this is maybe
the most concrete one.
00:14 [Karim Hassoun]
No, I do not know if my neighbors realize
nor the does society realize …
that Islam has been part of the society
already for over 40 years …
one reason being the migration of cultural
minorities from the Islamic world to Europe …
but historically Islam has been part of
European society for centuries.
There are two important points in this:
the historical presence of Islam, on the one hand —
if you take a look at Andalusia, Spain.
The Ottoman empire in the history of Europe …
has had a major civilizing influence
for European society.
I think here in the audience of students,
it is important to realize that Islam in history,
and its evolution, has also made significant
contributions for example to philosophy …
to the Enlightenment, the people knew
here in the 17th and 18th century…
the Enlightenment, in which the secularization
of society, and the separation of dogmatic religion
from political power, which is
necessary, because I believe in a secular society,
in which religion should indeed have no power,
should not exercise political power…
maybe we can come back to this later …
but the important thing is, that for instance philosophers
such as Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd,
known with the Latin name Averroes,
because one tries to mask the Arab link a little
by giving the name a Latin connotation,
but those are the sources of, for example, …
an important priest and scholar like
Thomas Aquinas, who has inspired…
and who also on the one hand brought questions
in the religious thinking in Europe,
And in the thirteenth century that was
a forerunner of what eventually became
the Enlightenment period with as its climactic point
the French Revolution.
This on the one side… Thus Islam has been part
of Europe for centuries and has also
made its contributions to very many
positive things in European society,
certainly in the sciences and in literature
and in philosophy.
On the other hand, I think it is also important that
— I already heard three opinions here —
but on two things I want to respond to the previous
speakers … Mr. Vermeulen has not described Islam,
he has given an interpretation of Islam,
his interpretation of Islam as there are a thousand …
there exist hundreds of interpretations of Islam.
This is his interpretation and his vision on the Islam.
I did not come here for a debate
about Islam, because I find that useless,
I find it pointless, it is not important, and is
a debate that Muslims must have among themselves.
They must among each other decide what can
and cannot accord with the Islamic rules of law…
Just as the Christians do, just as the Jews do.
As a society we must work towards a society
in which we can go together through that door.
So that is the important question
that we one should ask here.
Can one create a society model in which Muslims,
non Muslims, Christians, Jews, and atheists together
in one and the same Flanders, can go through
the same door, in which Muslims
enjoy the same rights as citizens, in which
that citizenship finally forms the backbone,
of a model of society in which there is respect,
and the various communities are left in their dignity…
and I think those are most important challenges
for today and not to … I am will not let myself
be tempted here to a substantive debate
on what is Allah, what is haram,
what’s in Islam, what’s in Christianity.
I had been expecting that for one thing,
and I can tell you, in five minutes time
I can give two alternatives from texts of the
Old and New Testament that are quite outrageous
matters, that would not be tolerated …
if one were to proclaim those opinions
here in Flanders today.
So in that sense it is meaningless to talk about
where Islam is now, and what is and what is not.
It is important that we talk about citizenship,
we talk about how cultural minorities …
and how one can give religious minorities
the same opportunities in society.
Because I hope the debate will go in that direction.
Because it is a public debate about exclusion,…
racism, and discrimination, on which a number
of right-wing, extreme right-wing …
populist parties live on, and lie in wait for,
to stir up things and to systematically exclude …
a community, and push from the system.
But we possibly will get back to that later here.
04:59 [Ivan de Vadder]
I now want the two politicians to have their say…
05:24 [Urbain Vermeulen, interruption]
Mr. [Johan] Leman has spoken and said
that he is talking about Muslims …
That is correct, isn’t it?
I have by way of introduction — someone
had to start here — discussed Islam.
Have talked about its behavior …
There is a monseigneur here who says
it is my interpretation …
That actually is someone who even if he were
one of my students would not have passed.
That is the opinion of 500 years of
scientific research on Islam!
That is the way it is, and nothing else!
Sir, I just told you that you are talking
nonsense … Let me continue …
When al-Andalus is spoken of,
and the Ottoman Empire, then it is better …
because when it is about tolerance and
multiculturalism, then when possible …
it is better remain silent in all languages,
that is including Arabic …
After three generations…
For one is obliged at every moment,
everybody has the duty to make remarks …
After three generations, in al-Andalus,
Christianity had disappeared!
And look what one now says again here.
That is to make someone forget!
But I may get back on that later, okay?
07:26 [Ivan de Vadder]
Okay, now Filip Dewinter.
07:29 [Filip Dewinter]
I am here as a politician, not as an Islamologist,
nor as an anthropologist, which means I have
a strong political opinion about Islam. I will therefore
not — as Madam Van Hecke and Mr. Leman did —
will not tell you multicultural fairy tales,
but will try to limit myself to reality.
Islam is a medieval rigid ideology bent on the
establishment of a theocratic society. That is the reality.
I do know, as I already have participated in many
debates as a result of the book Insh’Allah, …
The Islamization of Europe, that I wrote together
with Muslims — that Muslims will never talk about
the nature and essence of Islam. That should
never be discussed, but we must talk about
exclusion, racism, empowering, and things like that,
but never about the true nature of Islam.
I am not an Islamologist, but one thing I do know
is that the Koran should be interpreted literally,
because the Koran is the word of Allah, written down
by Muhammad, and nothing may be changed in it,
and it must be applied literally. That is great difference
with the Bible of course, where there has been …
an evolution, the enlightenment, etc., the separation
of church and state, something that Islam does not know,
… and never will know.
Now you also force me to talk about history,
I like to hear it, the great enrichment of Islam in Europe,
but let us face the reality, in which we have two
Islamic invasions behind us. Where
we pushed back one in 732 at Poitiers,
Charles Martel, …
and we did that again in 1683,
the 11th of September, …
does that say anything to you?
September the 11th … ?
This is no coincidence of course,
but it is the reality ….
September 11 and 12, 1683, when the Polish King
John III Sobieski finally pushed back the Turks,
again, Islam, to where they belong, and that is
on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea.