Sunday, October 23, 2011

Who Are These Soldiers of Allah?

Djemila Benhabib is the author of Ma vie à contre-Coran (“My life against the Koran”). She is the daughter of a Greek Cypriot mother and an Algerian father, and was raised in Oran, Algeria. She now lives in Quebec, and the interview below is from a Quebec television program.

Many thanks to Bear for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:


A full transcript is below the jump:

00:00  Hello Jemilla, Welcome to ‘Everyone talks about it’. You are the author of.…
00:04  a successful book called, ‘My Life Against Koran’ that appeared in …
00:08  2009. A piece of art concerning the reasonable accommodation…
00:12  you are here tonight concerning a new essay called, ‘The Soldiers…
00:16  of Allah’ The assault on the West. 10 years after the…
00:20  911, you are saying that the West is moving towards losing its battle…
00:24  against Islam that is itself going from victory to victory.
00:28  Who are these soldiers of Allah that are assaulting the West and to what victory do you refer?
00:32  So, the Soldiers of Allah are …
00:36  people that want to change the configuration …
00:40  of our social and political structure in the West.
00:44  these are people that understand perfectly the rhetoric of the West.
00:48  They understand our Human Rights. These are people the majority of them were born in the West.
00:52  And that have put themselves in service of this ideology.
00:56  Ideology of political Islam. So it is this battle that we are losing.
01:00  We refuse to admit that there is a battle so we cannot win…
01:04  when we are in denial of reality.
01:08  Islam is not a monolithic block. According to you, there are two Islams. What are they?
01:12  There is the one dating back to my grandmother, which means…
01:16  of peace and tolerance. Of open mindedness…
01:20  and there is a political Islam. The one I fight…
01:24  is the political one. It wants to impose an ideology …
01:28  of death an ideology of violence and ideology of discrimination…
01:32  a barbaric ideology.
01:36  [Who is the Muslim Brotherhood] They are a brotherhood …
01:40  born in Egypt in 1928 and had …
01:44  as mandated, to propagate political Islam…
01:48  in South Asia principally. Egypt, Syria, …
01:52  and the Magreb. In 1960 and …
01:56  the one that inherited the brotherhood has installed himself …
02:00  in the West in Switzerland and for him…
02:04  the mandate was to propagate this ideology in the West.
02:08  Mainly, slowly but surely, it is what he has done. He has succeeded…
02:12  to create community centers up to …
02:16  North America finally.
02:21  One of the founding fathers of the Muslim Brotherhood is the grandfather of Tareq Ramedan
02:25  who you reproached to want to pass off as a reformist, all while saying …
02:29  conservative statements. The popularity of Ramadan make you anxious…
02:33  why? It is a man that defends a Koranic literalist…
02:37  and he does not say…
02:41  for example, abrogate amputation, stoning, polygamy are examples…
02:45  the repudiation, the attitudes about homosexuality,
02:49  So he says that he is a modern person.
02:53  but as a parallel, as an example,
02:57  for you, on stoning. So here is a dichotomy
03:01  Here is the difference between what he is saying and what he is really.
03:05  You believe that the islamization of Quebec society is in real danger…
03:09  you put to light acquaintances between a certain left islamist, how…
03:13  Does the Quebec left participate in the process of political Islam?
03:17  The Quebec left unfortunately participates…
03:21  at normalizing and depoliticizing certain problems. As an example…
03:25  like the problem regarding the Islamic veil, the veil is a political symbol…
03:29  and the left essentially (initials of something)
03:33  are telling us that it is a piece of clothing like any other…
03:37  but it is not, it is indignation, it is segregation of women
03:41  however in the Middle East, this piece of clothing…
03:45  it is imposed on women. So we cannot consider it as a …
03:49  simple garment. It is a symbol of an ideology. It is why…
03:53  That’s why Khomeini has imposed it to the women of his country.
03:57  I think it is an element that we have to keep in mind in all analysis.
04:01  What problem does wearing or showing religious symbols in Quebec in public places cause?
04:05  Well, we are defined by our religious identity
04:09  We become religious subjects however we are, before all…
04:13  human beings. Above our religious identity…
04:17  and that is what is interesting. For us humans…
04:21  this formidable interaction we can have, above…
04:25  our ethnic and religious loyalties. To me, there is only one family that matters…
04:29  it is the one of ideas, the one of values.
04:33  You accuse the partisanship of the open ‘Laicité’ like Gerard Bouchard, Charles Taylor…
04:37  Quebec solidaire, the federation of Quebec women, of playing the game of…
04:41  integrity and to abandon the majority of Muslim women that they pretend to defend…
04:45  to demand the adoption of a charter of ‘Laicité of Quebec’ so …
04:49  it’s laicité in public and religion in private.
04:53  Absolutely yes. I think that Quebec has lived a …
04:57  extraordinary chapter of its history through …
05:01  the quiet revolution and it’s a heritage…
05:05  that I carry within me with great pride. And that I am …
05:09  resolute to defend because I find…
05:13  it has modernized Quebec and has given Quebec an absolutely extraordinary face.
05:17  Richard Martineau is in perfect agreement with you.…
05:21  His colleague from the [newspaper] Patrick Lagace…
05:25  is saying the exact opposite. I quote him: “I am sorry …
05:29  I am a useful idiot to the ‘Joan of Arc’ Belle Habib …
05:33  but I do not see ‘galloping Islamization’ here now”
05:37  Other quote: “Sometimes the book written by …
05:41  Mrs. Belle Habib is read as a masterpiece of the hysteric
05:45  of the ‘Red Menace’ of the 1950s recycled with the 21st century...”
05:49  How do you react to this?
05:53  This makes me smile. Honestly, we expect from a writer …
05:57  within a minimum of knowledge whatever the topic is,
06:01  However I did not see any. We expect a minimum of knowledge and probity.
06:06  We expect a solid argument. It took me 15 years to write …
06:10  ‘My Life Against Koran’. It took me a lot of books to read.
06:14  It took me a lot of conferences. I had to listen to. It took me a lot of meetings.
06:18  It took me a lot of trips. I think there should be…
06:22  a certain maturity, a certain lucidity when we…
06:26  talk about themes that are as complex as these. It is very sad to see.
06:30  ...that it wasn’t seen in this review. So for me, it is an unfortunate…
06:34  review. (Congratulations Ma’am)
06:38  
06:42  Do you have pressure, do you have people that don’t like you amongst those people?
06:46  Well listen Danny. Let us not tell ourselves…
06:50  some stories. I mean if there are so few people that come from this …
06:54  culture that speak up, to put the finger on…
06:58  certain anomalies it is because …
07:02  it is for precise reasons. It is evident since 1989…
07:06  since the condemnation to death of Salman Rushdie…
07:10  All writers know the risks
07:14  that they take. So I know, yes I know…
07:18  the risks. But it does not mean I will be quiet.
07:22  I want to share my experience. It is an experience…
07:26  that is tragic but interesting and I especially do not want…
07:31  that the mistakes that have been made back then, in Algeria,
07:35  surly but also in Europe because i have lived in Europe. happen in Quebec…
07:39  lets not wait to be at the bottom of the cave to…
07:43  say “well its true there is a bottom”. the court case of three…
07:47  Montrealers of afghan origins to have killed 4 women of their families…
07:51  in June 2009 last week in Kingston with…
07:55  with the election of the Jury. It is premature to qualify these murderers as…
07:59  as a honor killing the hypothesis is not gone. what is a…
08:03  a honor crime? a honor crime is…
08:07  committed by a family member with collusion…
08:11  with other family members. It is premeditated on another family member…
08:15  so we judge the behavior as deviant…
08:19  that does not seem to conform to a certain norm…
08:23  that is established by the community. Is it always directed to a woman? No not always…
08:27  we can always kill the woman and her boyfriend…
08:32  also we can kill people…
08:36  because they are homosexuals it has happened before…
08:40  all people that do not show a certain conformity.
08:44  based on a line of conduct.
08:48  within a community. If you want the difference between a crime of passion and…
08:52  and a crime of honour…
08:56  in the Arab and muslim country is the fact that the community endorses it.
09:00  the crime of honour. the community does not speak…
09:04  so finally the torturer does not speak.
09:08  he is never anxious about what he does. closes his eyes.
09:12  out of fear or they are in agreement? both. yes.
09:16  honour crime are there some in Quebec?
09:20  in Canada? there are some certainly and that is what should worry you.
09:24  what I mean there are young girls, woman…
09:28  in our society that live as if they were living…
09:32  in a tribal society that is recluse…
09:36  of Pakistan and Afghanistan and unfortunately…
09:40  and I have not seen our state take seriously these honour crimes…
09:44  There has been equally the case of the honour crime of the ‘Shafia’ family…
09:48  also the case of the little (name of child) that has been …
09:52  beaten by her father and that died …
09:56  so I mean let’s not wait until there are more…
10:00  Let’s react. Because murder is …
10:04  the ultimate act. But before that, there is all this pain.
10:08  That all these women and girls have to live. I mean a control…
10:12  that is perpetual of their comings and goings, of their clothing, and of their sexuality…
10:16  of their phone, of their loves, so it is…
10:20  truly a lot of pain these girls live. And we have the responsibility…
10:24  to protect them so lets protect them.
10:28  Q: Have you ever lived this type of pain? A: No. Never.
10:32  My mother is Greek and I was raised by a father
10:36  that is a feminist-Arab because it exists so today…
10:40  I want to give homage to my father because, I say it often, I was not raised by…
10:44  a Swedish father but by an Algerian father whom …
10:48  was raised by traditional parents but that gave me everything…
10:52  that taught me to stand up and that put in my mouth…
10:56  the word ‘liberty’ and this word I conjugated daily.
11:00  For me liberty is something that is absolutely sacred. It is…
11:04  ...a value to defend. Q: I see your ring, Have you won the Grey Cup?
11:08  A: What is that?
11:12  You will understand someday.
11:17  Q: What has brought you to Quebec? A: Well listen, it was a country to discover…
11:21  and I wanted to discover it. Q: And you stayed? A: Yes
11:25  ...and I stayed because it is a country absolutely…
11:29  magnificent. And it is a country where I have found my inner peace.
11:33  ...and my serenity, my joie-de-vivre
11:37  It’s a magnificent country so here…
11:41  that gives the want to be discovered. I don’t stop discovering it.
11:45  It’s immense, Quebec. Q: Have you gone back…
11:49  home? A: Yes yes I have. Because I have launched my book, My life against the Koran…
11:53  in Algeria. There was an editor crazy enough that agreed…
11:57  to edit and...Q: is he still sufficiently alive?
12:01  A: Yes! he is sufficiently crazy and alive to be able to edit this …
12:05  ..to want to edit this book. Q: Were you well received there? A: Yes.
12:09  I was very very well received because unfortunately we…
12:13  do not speak about these Arab progresses, we speak of…
12:17  ...because there are some, some lovers…
12:21  of Music, of theater, of free speech,
12:25  of liberty, simply put. So me, it is those people…
12:29  I love. And it is these people that welcome me in Algeria…
12:33  very very warmly. And every time I go back to Algeria…
12:37  it is a feast for me.
12:42  Q: Thank you very much.

4 comments:

Mme Scherzo said...

Brave as she is beautiful. She just exudes joy. Her words about liberty being sacred lit her face up. It is about time that we see the French in Quebec stand up and say something about what is going on in their province. Sadly, she is right about the smooth-talking Ramadan. And even more sadly that her critics probably outnumber those who agree with her, at least in the press and in public fora.
Yet another Muslim woman to admire for her bravery.

Blogger said...

The only problem is that she wants to separate a nostaligic form of Islam (that of her grandmother), and "political Islam", ie obviously that which is in the Koran. The problem is that the former style of Islam was an Islamic based on 'hearsay', because until recently most Algerians were illiterate and were only told the nice bits by the local imam (who was also illiterate). I know this, because my ex was Algerian and I spent some time in Algeria, close to where this young woman is from. Most Algerians who are now in their 70s would be illiterate and probably shocked if they heard what was really written in the Koran. I met these lovely old people when I was there. My ex grew up believing that prophet Muhammad was a gentle soul who never hurt anyone. Recently I confronted him on the phone about this and he hung up on me. He had obviously found out the truth but it was too painful for him to admit it.

The interesting point is that the Christian reformation happened when people became literate - they were able to read the bible for themselves and find out the priests had been lying to them, ie that humans are not saved by bribes or crusader wars, but by faith alone. Women, men, slaves and owners were all equal, according to the bible. They sought to live closer to the example of Jesus. These teachings and more changed the course of western world for the better.

The Islamic reformation is just happening. Most muslims are now growing up literate. They dont' listen to the old gentle imam anymore: they read the Quran for themselves, they read about what Muhammad really did ... with very different results to that of the Christian reformation.

Egghead said...

"Most muslims are now growing up literate."

Contrary to the simple dictionary definition of literate as being able to read and write, Muslims prove that simply being able to read and write does NOT make a person literate.

Being able to access, comprehend, question, and analyze both oral and written information makes a person literate.

Thus, most Muslims are STILL highly illiterate combining 1) the willful ignorance of cult members with 2) a universal ummah-wide death sentence levied upon all who would attempt to re-define the cult rituals of Islam in any way.

Islam labels Muslim reformers to be hypocrites - by far the worst sinners in Islam - deserving of painful death followed by hellfire.

The Islamic doctrine of hypocrisy is the reason that Islam will NEVER "voluntarily" submit to a religious reformation initiated by Muslims.

Egghead said...

"Most muslims are now growing up literate."

Contrary to the simple dictionary definition of literate as being able to read and write, Muslims prove that simply being able to read and write does NOT make a person literate.

Being able to access, comprehend, question, and analyze both oral and written information makes a person literate.

Thus, most Muslims are STILL highly illiterate combining 1) the willful ignorance of cult members with 2) a universal ummah-wide death sentence levied upon all who would attempt to re-define the cult rituals of Islam in any way.

Islam labels Muslim reformers to be hypocrites - by far the worst sinners in Islam - deserving of painful death followed by hellfire.

The Islamic doctrine of hypocrisy is the reason that Islam will NEVER "voluntarily" submit to a religious reformation initiated by Muslims.