The following article was written by Kent Ekeroth, the international secretary for Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden Democrats), in reply to a blog post at the web site for Axess, a conservative Swedish magazine. The blog post criticized SD for inviting Robert Spencer to Sweden to speak about the threat of Islamic jihad.
Many thanks to Cavatus for the translation:
Kent Ekeroth: Shall we waste time on debating debates?
Anna Ekstrom recently wrote recently wrote an article on the blog Axess about my and the Sweden Democrats’ opinion on Islam after the participation of the Islam expert Robert Spencer during the Swedish political week in Almedalen on the island of Gotland. But the debate we ought to mention is the one that aims to answer the question: How can we ensure that the political aspects of Islam end up in the same ideological corner as Nazism? If Anna Ekstrom, Johan Lundberg or someone else want to debate this, I and the other Sweden Democrats will of course take part.
Recently an entertaining but rather unessential pseudo-debate has been flourishing among the Swedish public about Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s real or imagined views. Such a discussion seems uninteresting to me, since it isn’t dedicated to a public discussion of cultural, political, and kindred subjects in any essential meaning: the debate deals with the alleged views of a third party. Anna Ekstrom now tries to initiate a similar pseudo-debate on Robert Spencer. Just as Ayaan Hirsi Ali herself may declare her own opinion, Robert Spencer may declare his own views. If Anna Ekstrom has questions about this, she should write to Spencer. I have no need to defend his views. Instead, I choose to focus on the debate about Islam and Islamism that should reasonably return readers a better profit.
Some clarifications: yes, there are Muslims who are peaceful, and yes, they have the right to practice their belief in private. But there are also Muslims who are not peaceful, who are ready to kill in the name of their God, and who dedicate their lives to adapting society to the political directions that are codified in the Islamic law, Sharia. There is no contradiction between saying that there are peaceful Muslims and saying that the Muslims who are violent and intolerant follow the same religion that do their peaceful fellow-believers.
It is in fact very simple: a religion is a set of rules, and in the case of Islam even a set of laws. Islam is both theology and politics — the politics is part of Sharia, which regulates everything from inheritance and divorce to what laws to apply in wartime. (One example chosen at random: the beheading of prisoners is lawful since Mohammed beheaded prisoners of war. It doesn’t get any better than that.)
Every aspect of man’s life is covered by Sharia. Every Muslim is free to ignore Sharia — the Muslim who does so disregards Islam’s political aspects and focuses instead on the experience of God, a “transcendent meeting with a divinity”, as Johan Lundberg expresses it. In the same article, Lundberg points out that Islam has come to be regarded as “synonymous with a set of laws and legal cases that mostly do not have much to convey to Swedish society in the 21st century”. This is correct: the laws that Lundberg mentions, Sharia, are not part of a modern, civilized, secular society.
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They are intolerant, they discriminate against women and non-Muslims, and they impose violence against non-Muslims and inhuman corporal punishment for “crimes” that at bottom are not crimes. A legislation that imposes capital punishment for infidelity is not legislation worth its name: it is a form of barbarism. These laws originate, however, with Islam; thus the set of theological doctrines and laws that have been codified by ulama and fuqaha over time, and that are regarded even today as normative by the “religious elite”, to a very great extent influence the non-Islamic debate.
And it is here where the problem appears: the problem is not so much those Muslims who completely ignore a central part of Islam (here I disregard the general problems that arise in a multiculture), namely Sharia, but the Muslims who take Islam and accordingly Sharia seriously and work to adapt their environment to Islam’s normative orthodoxy. It is here that we see the division between ordinary Muslims and so-called “Islamists”: the two groups follow the same prophet, read the same muniments, and consult the same religious elite for guidance. But it is when Sharia comes up on the agenda that the restrictions of freedom of religion, which are to be found in the 9th article of European Convention of Human rights, come into question.
It is important to note that even though there are Muslims who disregard Sharia, this does not imply that Sharia is not part of Islam. Islam and Muslims are not necessarily the same thing but as long as Islam looks as it does, i.e. includes Sharia, Muslims will take it seriously.
Those who try to practice the political aspects of Islam — those who normally are called Islamists — are not protected by freedom of religion. It is actually fully necessary to oppose political Islam, in order to protect our fundamental human rights. Islam’s schools of law command, for example, capital punishment if you leave Islam. At the same time, the right to become a convert is inscribed in the UN declaration of human rights. Here two legal systems come into conflict. To me it is apparent what system overrules the other: in a conflict with fundamental human rights — the rights denied by Sharia — Sharia will lose, always, without exception. It wouldn’t be necessary to explain why, but the one who still wonders is advised to study why “Islamists” and jihadists around the world do what they do.
For these groups are surprisingly willing to explain what motivates them: Sharia, and thus Islam. Al-Qaeda pretends to make a defensive jihad, which is a religious duty according to Sharia when Islam is regarded being under attack or oppressed by non-Muslims. Al-Shabaab blasts bombs in restaurants and digs up Sufi graves, since they are fighting for Sharia. The Taliban execute innocent people in their ambitions to establish Sharia in Afghanistan. And so on and so forth. These groups are jihadists — they take up arms and murder in the name of Allah since they take the Islamic law seriously.
Their ideological kinsmen, the “democratic Islamists” in organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, do not use violence, but have the exact the same goal: they work for the day when Islamic law will be prevail in the societies where they live. An internal document [pdf] that was presented as evidence during the Holy Land Foundation trial in the USA reveals the goal of the Muslim Brotherhood:
4- Understanding the role of the Muslim Brother in North America:
The process of settlement is a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim’s destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who chose to slack. But, would the slackers and the Mujahideen be equal.
The Muslim Brotherhood is a far more dangerous organization than al-Qaeda and similar jihad organizations, since the former pretends to be peaceful. Their European umbrella organization, FIOE [pdf], has prominent friends in Sweden, for example Abdirisak Waberi, a candidate to the Swedish parliament for the party the Moderates. During the spring of 2008 they were invited to a conference in Sweden’s parliament on the theme “freedom of religion and speech”. The host for this event was Mehmet Kaplan. Thus we have a situation in which representatives for the organization whose ideological ancestor, Sayyid Qutb, inspired modern jihadism, is invited to Sweden’s parliament — in order to discuss the freedoms and rights that are denied by the legislation that this organization lobbies for — Sharia.
And it is here somewhere where the shoes chafe my feet. What exactly do Sweden’s Muslims do to handle these Islamists’ assiduous ambitions for influence? So far I have not noticed any efforts from, for example, Sweden’s young Muslims or the Peace Agents (Fredsagenterna) to stop Islamists like Waberi from getting into Sweden’s parliament. The question arises: if these organizations recommend peace and tolerance, why aren’t they acting against the Islamists? One thing is certain: absolutely the best way to respond to the “tepid” attitude of many Swedish non-Muslims towards Islam is to work against political Islam, sharia itself, and jihad in the sense of “holy war for the sake of Allah”. If Muslim organizations that work to convince non-Muslims of the fact that Islam is a religion of peace were instead to strive energetically for mastering so-called “Islamism”, they wouldn’t have to sell their message to non-Muslims. But instead they treat criticism from organizations like Sweden’s Young Muslims by shouting “Islamophobe”, which in reality should be interpreted as “Shut up!” Such an objection is far too simple and is not convincing.
Let me summarize: the right of the individual Muslim to practice his private faith is guaranteed by freedom of religion. The individual Muslim does not “by nature” behave in a certain manner — he can chose to disregard the message of violence that is an inevitable part of Sharia and thus of Islam, but he can also chose to adhere to this. But choosing not to follow the decree of Islam does not imply that these decrees do not exist — jihad in the sense of holy war with a view to invading non-Muslim states and replacing their laws with Muslim supremacy in form of Sharia (which is not the same as compulsory conversion), is part of Islamic law and is commanded by all the law schools in Islam. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban state for example that they wage jihad in order to defend Islam — are they doing the wrong thing according to Islam?
Those Muslims who choose to adhere to this legislation and implement it are called Islamists, and the project in which they are engaged is exactly contrary to the freedom and rights that our society is founded on. The political aspects of Islam are not protected by freedom of religion, and are best addressed through prohibition — outlaw Sharia and ban Islamist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood. There is no room for Islamists on the political scene in the Western world today. Where Islamists have implemented Islam’s political aspects, it is necessary to criticize these — and then you criticize Islam, since Sharia is a central part of Islam. Criticism of Islam is in reality necessary in order to find the solution to both so-called “Islamism” and jihadism. If you don’t even understand the ideology that is the driving force behind these movements, you cannot refute them.
The only debate we ought to have is the one that aims at answering the question: how can we ensure that the political aspects of Islam end up in the same ideological corner as Nazism? If Anna Ekstrom, Johan Lundberg or someone else wants to debate this, I and the other Sweden Democrats will of course be willing to participate. Is there someone who will take up the gauntlet, or shall we continue to waste time on debating debates?
Kent Ekeroth is the Sweden Democrats’ candidate for the parliament as number 16 on the ballot.