Wednesday, March 14, 2007

“It’s Going to be Like Lebanon”

Lars HedegaardRegular Gates of Vienna readers are familiar with Lars Hedegaard, the writer and columnist for the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende. Fjordman has cited his writings several times, and more recently he awarded Daniel Pipes the Freedom of Speech Prize in Copenhagen.

Jonathan Robertsson, who is a high school student in Stockholm, translated the following television interview of Lars Hedegaard. The interview was shown on Axess Television on October the 15th, 2006.

Translating this was a huge task, and we owe Jonathan a debt of gratitude for undertaking the effort.

In this interview, TG = Swedish journalist and interviewer Thomas Gür; LH = Lars Hedegaard, founder and president of Trykkefrihetsselskabet (The Society for Freedom of the Press). The translator’s annotations are in square brackets.

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TG (introduction): Welcome to Global Axess in Avesta. Today’s show is being recorded. We’re about to meet the journalist and author Lars Hedegaard from Denmark. Among other books he has written is I krigens hus — islams kolonisering av Väst [“In the House of War — Islam’s Colonization of the Western World”] — Welcome, Lars!
LH: Thank you.
NARRATOR: Lars Hedegaard is a historian, author, journalist and president of the organization Trykkefrihedsselskabet. Since the 1990s he has dedicated a large part of his time to studying the influence of Islam in European and Western civilization, and has published a lot of articles on the subject in the Danish press. He has also, along with his colleagues Brix and Hansen, written one of the most controversial books in Denmark in recent years: In the House of War — Islam’s Colonization of the Western World.
TG: Is Islam today a threat to the secularized character of the Danish state?
LH: Not only to the Danish state, but to the secularism in the entire Western world. You could say it has been during its entire history. We’re living in a period which dates back to the Iranian revolution in 1979 and has led us into a third Jihad; a third Holy War against the Western world, and also against other neighbours. From our point of view it must be considered as a third Jihad.
TG: Aren’t these parallels quite extreme, historically? The Islamic assault of the 1000’s was of a different character than expansion of the Ottoman Empire. And today it’s about migration. It doesn’t have the characteristics of war.
LH: Lars HedegaardWell, it does have the characteristics of war. The obstacle for Islam is that today they can’t expand militarily in the more developed West. They could do so in the first Jihad; the Arabic Jihad right after the death of Mohammed. They also could in what we can call the second Jihad, the Turkish or the Ottoman Jihad. In those days they had the opportunity to defeat their enemies with armed might. But that phase of history ended at the end of the 17th century when they couldn’t defeat Europe at Vienna, in 1683. That was the last time they tried. Then there was a retreat by Islam due to an inner collapse of Muslim society. What today is called Jihad is carried out with help of migration, the export of populations, and other methods. There are no armed forces, but there is money… If we take a look at what has happened the last twenty-five years we can see that Saudi Arabian forces have invested almost sixty-five billion dollars for political and ideological influence in the Western world.
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TG: Now you’re talking about these Saudi Arabian foundations…?
LH: Yes. Foundations, mosques, mission societies. Something particularly special today is their influence in universities, research institutions, etc., to which they give large grants. It is implicit that there will not be any research that is critical of Islam. Islam is described as something nice; it’s described as an essentially peaceful, tolerant and lovely religion. Islam means peace, they say, which it does. But it principally means submission to God’s will.
TG: You’re talking like there is one Islam. Now we know that the Saudi Arabian influence is a particularly radical interpretation of Islam from the Wahhabist days during the 18th century. At the same time there are about 1.5 billions Muslims and therefore many different ways of worshiping Islam. Can we talk about a united Islam the way you do?
LH: Islam is assuming different forms. But we have to say there is an essence, something central and something compulsory for everyone who calls himself a Muslim. And you can mention some of the things characterizing Islam in general. First and foremost your understanding as a Muslim must be the belief that the Koran is the direct word from God, his message to the world, not up for discussion, and since the 9th century not subject to any interpretation. Such a thing doesn’t exist at all! Despite the fact that today’s Koran is only a possible Koran. There are other possible Korans. I know that one of the speakers at the seminar will release a book this autumn called Which Koran?. I’m looking forward to reading it. He isn’t the first to show there are several ways to understand the Koran; the Koran demands a critical analysis.
TG: Aren’t you in the same position as the Islamic fundamentalists who also are suggesting there is only one Islam? And all the others, even Muslims, saying Islam can be understood in different ways? For instance, we have the Mu’tazilite movement suggesting that the Koran can’t be the words from God. But they’re heretics, according to the radical Muslims. Aren’t you in general suggesting the same thing; there can only be one Islam and all Muslims in general are identical to each other?
LH: No, I’m not saying there cannot be other ways of Islam. I’m saying there are not any other ways of Islam. I can’t find any other way of following Islam that has lasted historically. I know there are other doctrines of Islam. The Mu’tazilites had one doctrine in the 9th century, but they no longer exist as a movement or tendency within Islam. I know that there are variations even today. There are Iranian ayatollahs whose opinion of Islam is different, a more radical opinion. But those are not folks that haven’t opposed… I’m not stuck with the thought of one possible Islam, but there is one Islamic opinion which has appeared most frequently: that the Koran as we know it today is God’s direct message to the world and that it is not reduced when we are discussing it. And another thing is… If you “scratch the surface” of those who call themselves “moderate” Muslims — I admit that there are moderate Muslims, but not as many as you might have thought. If we scratch the surface of them, we can see that their moderation consists of their intentions to introduce Sharia laws with peaceful methods. The Muslims we call extremists intends to introduce it with violence. But the moderation doesn’t consist in a more moderate intention. Their intentions are the same.
TG: Are you also claiming that the Sharia law is unchangeable?
LH: Yes.
TG: In Mohammed’s days slavery was allowed according to the Sharia. Today there aren’t any competent persons saying slavery is morally correct. Isn’t even the Sharia changeable when it changes due to certain circumstances? Aren’t you being a bit dogmatic?
LH: I’m a historian; I’m neither a dogmatic, nor a preacher, nor a philosopher. And I’m not a guide to the future. I keep to what has happened in the past. When you mention slavery, you’re claiming that slavery is something moderate Muslims are opposed to. I don’t agree with you. I’ve never heard any Muslim specifically oppose slavery.
TG: But there is no Islamic country that legally permits slavery.
LH: Well, yes there is… Sudan legally allows slavery. They have slave-markets where hundreds of thousands are gathered. I don’t know if it’s legal, but in Saudi Arabia there is slavery, and in Africa, and so on. I’m attaching to… Now, I’ve got special knowledge about the Danish conditions….
TG: But if we look at the Danish conditions in particular — the imams who took the twelve Mohammed cartoons and the three fakes and tried to get support in Saudi Arabia; are they traitors to their country? Should we consider them to be enemies of the Danish state and community? [These imams went to Egypt were they called for Muslims to burn Danish embassies. There were three faked cartoons.]
LH: To be a traitor to one’s country, you must belong to the country you’re betraying. You can’t betray Denmark unless you’re a Dane.
TG: They don’t even feel solidarity with the country they’re inciting…?
LH: No.
TG: Is it a fifth column?
LH: Yes, I think we can say it is.
TG: Influence agents…?
LH: I don’t want to give them that designation, due to the fact that some have judicial cases pending.
TG: You don’t want to be charged with anything?
LH: I’d prefer to avoid it. I’m not normally afraid, but… I want to say that they behave, even if they’ve got Danish citizenship, which not many of them have got… Even if they have got residence permits or citizenships, they neither feel nor behave like Danes.
TG: How does a Dane behave?
LH: A Dane behaves in many ways, but a Dane doesn’t go abroad to encourage to anti-Danish activity such as burning embassies. You do not accuse compatriots of racism and hostility to aliens. Such behaviour isn’t related to the country they’ve come to. They are not like the Nazis during WWII in Denmark who left their country for military service on the Eastern front. Then it was a question of betrayal to your country.
TG: But what about native Danes converting to Islam? Are they betraying the Danish thing?
LH: There is no “Danish thing”. There are several things, but…
TG: But are they selling out the Danish things [I think the word TG is looking for is CULTURE] if they convert to Islam?
LH: I don’t know anything about that.
TG: Can you be a Dane and a Muslim?
LH: Yes, you can.
TG: You can be a Muslim believer and a good patriotic Dane?
LH: “Patriotic Danes” is not my choice of language. There are several ways to be a Dane: You could be conservative, you could be a socialist, you could be a communist, you could be an atheist, a libertine or an alcoholic, and in the same time be a Dane. But if one individual who converts to Islam whose last name is Jensen or Lars in first name [both typical names for a Dane], I don’t want to judge that individual’s personal reason or intention.. You’re asking me if you can be a believer; That depends on what you mean with “believe”.
TG: Are there no moderate Muslims in Denmark? Isn’t MP Naser Khader, a practicing Muslim, an example of how you could be a secularized Danish Muslim?
LH: Notice what he is called by his opponents in the Muslim community in Denmark: he is called an apostate.
TG: That’s what they are calling him, but what do you call him? What do you, as a non-Muslim, call Naser Khader, who is saying “I’m a Dane and a Muslim at the same time and you can be both of them”? What do you call him?
LH: I call him a Dane!
TG: He can be a Muslim… But is… his Islam an apostate-Islam, an Islam of betrayal?
LH: According to authorities within Islam his Islam is a treacherous one. But it is not my place to say if someone is a good or a bad Muslim. I know Naser Khader, and I have respect for him. I don’t consider him as someone apart from me.
TG: But he is a Muslim and believes that the Koran is God’s word.
LH: I don’t know about that, you may ask him about that…
TG: If we leave him, and look forward — What is going to happen with Denmark? In your book and in several articles you’ve written you are suggesting that in the year 2060, within two generations, the immigrants and their children will be in the majority, and a very large part of them will be Muslims, and that Danish culture will face a menace.
LH: Yes.
TG: What will happen? Is the Danish native population just going to watch the country, in your scenario, be taken over?
LH: That is something you could speculate about for a long time, but it is not a specifically Danish problem — the same thing will happen in Sweden, but even quicker. In Sweden you don’t have to wait until 2060 before the native population is a minority in their own country. But I don’t know if that is decisive.
TG: But isn’t that a very static view; to think that people, in several generations, won’t identify themselves with the country in which they were born and raised? Many Swedes and Danes is of foreign extraction, but still are assimilated. You’re pulling the numbers statically forward and…
LH: There’s a reason for that; Denmark and many other countries have received a large portion of population which has come from outside. We have a Jewish population that doesn’t create any problems.
TG: Can you even say they came from outside?
LH: Well, originally they came from outside
TG: Well, originally even the Danes came from outside! Now you’re talking about the Jews as they came from the outside when they’ve been in Denmark for tens of generation
LH: That’s correct, they came in the end of the 17th century, but…
TG: But isn’t this a way of counting people from where they’ve come from…?
LH: But you have to include a historical point of view while inquiring: is there one single example among Muslim minorities who have come to a non-Muslim country and have let themselves be integrated together with the country in question’s native population? — I’m not familiar with any such example.
TG: But aren’t the Finnish Crimean Tatars an example of this? Even though that’s a very small minority consisting of 800-900 people but…
LH: Yes… I paid a visit there once.
TG: Outside their mosque there is a Muslim crescent, the Finnish flag, and a list those who died for their country in the war [in the Winter War against the Soviet Union in 1939-40].
LH: Those are a couple of hundred, but you can’t compare them with…
TG: But you asked: “Is there one example…?” and when you’re receiving one, then you’re saying it’s not included because they are so few. Is that the condition? That they should be so few to get integrated? Is it a question about demography or ideology?
LH: It is a question about their religion.
TG: But the Finnish Crimean Tatars, they’re still Muslims.
LH: Yes, I know. I visited them once in Tampere… I consider them just as secularized as us, but that’s a peripheral example.
TG: Are you saying that you can’t be a Muslim and secularized?
LH: I’m not saying that.
TG: You’re saying they are as secular as us but can still be Muslims, can’t they?
LH: You shouldn’t repeat theoretical conceptions, you should notice what actually happens. I don’t doubt that there are many with a Muslim background or a Muslim name who don’t go to the mosque or are living differently. What we can see is this: when imams move into the neighbourhood, with normal relations reversed, they are taking over the administrative power and influence. In Denmark, for instance, it happens that the second or third generations of Muslims are less integrated than the first. That is shown by research in which we can see that 25% of the first generation of Muslims say they are religious and among the Muslim youths 75% say they are religious. But from experience it is impossible to integrate a big Muslim population.
TG: Are we credulous in the West when we accept that fundamentalist countries are sending their religious preachers to Muslim minorities? Something that… If we had a Danish or a Swedish minority of population in Saudi Arabia, and if we sent Danish or Swedish priests over there — since they would never allow that, are we credulous as we let the Saudi Arabian provide significant support and ideological direction…?
LH: You could say we are credulous. You could also say we are suffering from presumption. We think too much about ourselves. We are convinced that our culture is the best one in the world, the strongest one, the culture everyone wants. We can’t even imagine people coming over here from, for instance, the Middle East and wanting to become something else other than like the Swedes, the Danes. We do not see that they prefer their own culture. Of course, that is “blue-eyed” of us. It is stupid of us that we accept doctrines which mustn’t… If religion was a personal relationship between you and your God, and was of no matter for society, then it wouldn’t matter at all. But if you come with a religion, and just not a religion; also a political ideology, a system of legislation, a way of living, a way of thinking that forms the society, that forms the relations between men and women, parents and children etc., that is against the civilization we’ve built for hundreds of years; then it is naïve!
TG: But your image of the future is very dark and depressing. Politically speaking: what should the native — still the majority of — Danes do? Should they outlaw the operations of the fundamentalist foundations? Should they require… What should the native Danes do? Should they throw out those who act as a fifth column?
LH: I’m not the person to be asked that question. When that question was asked of me I used to say that the politicians and parties who have voted for and allowed this development…
TG: But that is all the parties, except from one perhaps but…?
LH: Yes, but you still must ask them in any case. I’ve said that that they should have implemented another policy.
TG: But haven’t the Danish people stood behind these politicians, because they vote and give the power and influence to these parties who don’t share your analysis?
LH: They haven’t discussed it with the voters, they haven’t presented the arguments. The fault lies with those who have known about this, people whose specialty is this topic. I’m thinking about specialists on religion, the Middle-East, and Islam. They must have known how it has been, and how it has gone with the so-called culture collision between Islam and the West. The Danish people have not had the opportunity to take a position in that question. When I was studying history at the University of Århus, then history of Islam was something that nobody even had a thought on! No one was interested of it because it was so incredibly remote; there was simply no issue. Today we have a situation in which I don’t know what to do. I can’t recommend anything.
TG: But if we look at your historical perspective — regarding that second period, you’re saying there was a second assault. What happened then was that the Ottoman Empire did not force the Christians to convert to Islam, but let them have their religions. Large parts of Balkans still were Christian; Greek Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Catholicism in Croatia…
LH: It is a beautiful picture you’re suggesting… First: It was about conversion by force to a great extent. Secondly: The Christians were surrendered.
TG: They had a second-rank status. But it was never Islamization, was it? Isn’t it therefore things are like they are today, with the balkanization?
LH: It was an Islamization, otherwise there wouldn’t be any Muslims in Albania or in Bosnia. Besides — Are you familiar with the Dev Sharma system?
TG: Yes. But that was mostly young men who were taken as slaves.
LH: They were enslaved and converted by force to Islam. They imported slaves from present southern Russia. The idea that it must have been an idyllic condition of tolerance and respect is entirely incorrect. This is also the case in Andalusia, which is spoken of as a time that was unsurpassingly nice and tolerant, but of course that wasn’t the case. To end with what I think will happen — I’m not a politician — I don’t think that the European states, not only Denmark, will be Islamic states, even though the native would be fewer than the Muslims. I don’t think the natives will adjust to the Muslim culture. Countries will be divided into enclaves.
TG: But if we look at the assault of the 1000’s as you describe it, the 17th century, and today; in the 10th and the 17th century Europe could confront Islam militarily, with armed force. We can’t do that now… Then the question becomes: With this depressing vision you describe, how should the Western world handle the assault? When we are suffering from presumption, thinking that everyone want to have the same culture that we do, when we can’t have armed forces and when we can’t stop the ideological influence, what’s going to happen?
LH: The countries will be divided and lose their unified character. The societies will be divided into enclaves. It won’t be multicultural, it will be monocultures; one culture will be in charge in each place, like in a mosaic. Parts of Malmö, if it hasn’t already happened, are going to surrender to Sharia. That is also the case for Denmark and other towns in Sweden… Countries will be divided, so that we can no longer talk about Denmark, Sweden or Germany.
TG: It’s going to be like Lebanon, you say? Like a civil war?
LH: Yes, I think… It will be a sort of permanent low-intensity war, where the different enclaves are fighting each other, partly like Lebanon…
TG: When does it become reality?
LH: Within the next fifteen to twenty years.
TG: We will see if you’re right, or hopefully — I suppose also you think — wrong.
LH: Let’s hope so, or that I’ll be dead!

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Afterword by Jonathan Robertsson:

In the debate among the skeptics of multiculturalism, there is a claim that Europe sometime in the future will be part of big Islamic state. As mentioned in your blog, author D.C. Alden has created a fictional example of their scenario in his book Invasion. Among those who think that that is Europe’s future, we have, for instance, Mark Steyn and Christopher Hitchens. Lars Hedegaard, on the other hand, says something else: He says that the European people will never accept any form of Islamic legislation; that Europeans will never accept their status as dhimmis. I wonder if anyone else has thought about it the way Hedegaard has. He means we Europeans are credulous, that we can’t imagine that someone from another culture arriving in Europe doesn’t want our way of life. And, frighteningly, he is right.

In my family and among my friends, acquaintances, and relatives I often discuss political subjects such as economic issues, social affairs and “the global-warming threat” (within quotation marks because I think it’s all a big bluff). It’s interesting and intellectually stimulating. But we’re never discussing the “religion of peace” and its influence in Europe. And when I listen to Hedegaard I think perhaps we should, since many intellectuals in the US do.

I’ve never seen one single review of either America Alone or Londonistan or While Europe slept or Infidel in the Swedish MSM. I have to go abroad on the internet for reviews. And, as far as I know, not one of them has been translated to Swedish. We have to go abroad to read criticism and news on the “culture-collision”, except for the “blogosphere” were we can read criticism on everything each day.

The silliest example of this was when Fox News reported about how a Palestinian doctor in Blekinge, Sweden refused to give medical care to an American woman in need of treatment because of one very reason; she was an American and since the doctor didn’t like the American foreign policy he didn’t give her treatment. But it wasn’t the fact that Fox reported it that was silly; it was the fact that Swedish MSM totally ignored it! Only one of the local papers, Blekinge Läns Tidning, wrote a shorter article about it, and one — one!! — Swedish newspaper, Södermanlands Nyheter, gave it attention in its editorial section. Bad work, journalists (except from BLT, Södermanlands Nyheter and Fox News)! That’s how silly the debate in Sweden is, and when Fox reported it in prime time, and meanwhile the Swedish MSM ignored it, then it became obvious to me: Sweden is sick, sick with political correctness.

What we need is a new enlightenment, Voltaire-style!

Photo credits: Steen of Snaphanen.


History Snark said...

Thanks Jonathon, excellent work.

Am I the only one that thinks the interviewer was kind of hectoring Dr. Hedegaard at times? Beating on one or two minor points, and ignoring the larger issue?

It almost seemed like he was trying to prove Hedegaard wrong, rather than finding out what he thought.

anti-uffe said...

"Am I the only one that thinks the interviewer was kind of hectoring Dr. Hedegaard at times? Beating on one or two minor points, and ignoring the larger issue?"

Considering the topic at hand, and considering the interview was conducted by a Swede, I marvel at how well it went. Hedegaard was definitely allowed to present his views in great detail, rather than in sound bite form as part of an exposé of the bigoted, paranoid, loony (etc.) islamophobes.

kepiblanc said...

anti-uffe - we met at the Daniel Pipes event in Copenhagen. Will you please contact the Baron ?

Steen said...

Thomas Gür is not at all bad :

Thomas Gür: Velfærdsstaten vil dø

Offentliggjort 25. maj 2002

Yorkshireminer said...

I watched this video the other week on Steen's blogg Snaphanen, and was also a little bit irritated by all the interruptions from the interviewer. The Interviewer is a Turkish Swede and has also been threatened by the followers of the Religion of Peace. Now for all you good English readers of this Blogg if you feel that you could use a little more of Lars Hedegaard, Sappho have translated a lot of his work into English which can be downloaded from this link here enjoy it, it is well worth the trouble.

KGS said...

Kudos to Robertsson for translating the interview. I agree with Steen, that given the venue, it could have been much worse.

Here in Finland, we are up to our neck in political correctness that wouldn't even entertain the notion of interviewing someone of Lars Hedegaard's caliber.

Nor will we see anytime soon the Finns reaching out to hear Dr.Daniel Pipes or a host of other gifted intellectuals and speakers.

I am both jealous and happy over the Danes triumphs of getting Dr.Pipes to speak last Saturday in Copenhagen. It was also a thrill to meet some of those participants who have commented on these pages.

It was a real privilege and an honor to be there.

--Kenneth Sikorski

Steen said...

this one, for example. - I kinda fell in love there . Who wouldn´t ?

Kafir_Kelbeh said...

I does seem as if the interviewer interrupts frequently, as if he doesn't want to see the large lion in front of his nose.

Appears very similar to Katie Couric, et al...