Robert Redeker, a philosophy teacher in France, has gone into hiding after receiving death threats for a column he published a column in the French newspaper Le Figaro. In it, he characterized the Muslim prophet Muhammad as “a merciless war chief, plunderer, slaughterer of Jews and a polygamist.”
It was unclear what those issuing the threats are upset about. Were they contending that Redeker had lied about Muhammad? If so, they must contend with the fact that many Muslims around the world seem to agree that Muhammad was “a merciless war chief, plunderer, slaughterer of Jews and a polygamist.”
As I explain in my book “The Truth About Muhammad,” mujahedin throughout the world see Muhammad as the personification of the qualities they are trying to embody:
- Merciless war chief: London Muslim leader Hani Al-Sibaai in February 2005 justified the slaughters being perpetrated at that time by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi’s mujahedin in Iraq: “The Prophet [Muhammad] told the Quraysh tribe [pagan Arabs who rejected Muhammad’s prophetic claims]: ‘I have brought slaughter upon you’…[T]he Prophet drove nails into and gouged out the eyes of people from the ‘Urayna Tribe. They were merely a group of thieves who stole from sheep herders, and the Prophet drove nails into them and threw them into the Al-Hrara area, and left them there to die. He blinded them and cut off their opposite legs and arms. This is what the Prophet did on a trifling matter—let alone in war.”
- Plunderer: As late as November 2003, the website of the Islamic Affairs Department (IAD) of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington, D.C. contained exhortations to Muslims to wage violent jihad in emulation of Muhammad, and quoted Muhammad’s words about plunder: “Whoever of My slaves comes out to fight in My way seeking My pleasure, I guarantee him that I will compensate his suffering with reward and booty (during his lifetime) and if he dies, I would forgive him, have mercy on him and let him enter Paradise.”
- Slaughterer of Jews: In July 2006 a writer on a British Muslim Internet forum declared: “I’m so fed up with these dirty, filthy Israeli dogs. May Allah curse them and destroy them all, and may they face the same fate as Banu Qurayzah!” This was an Arabian Jewish tribe that was massacred on Muhammad’s orders, and with his participation.
- Polygamist. No one disputes that Muhammad had many wives. Islam Online says of Muhammad’s wives that “they preserved the memory of intimate details of their married life in order to educate succeeding generations in the rules of purification and relations between spouses.”
These are the statements of people who consider themselves to be pious and knowledgeable Muslims, who wouldn’t dream of insulting Muhammad. It is noteworthy also that at least those who spoke in televised sermons seemed to assume that their Muslim audience would also know that Muhammad behaved the way they say he did. Nor were there any protests raised against these or similar statements by other Muslims anywhere in the Islamic world. So why is Robert Redeker in fear for his life after threats for saying, in effect, what many Muslims around the world themselves say?
It would appear that his chief crime was in saying these things as a non-Muslim, and in a disapproving way. Those Muslims who have issued threats to Redeker seem to be attempting to extend the traditional Islamic legal tenet forbidding non-Muslims in the Islamic state to insult Allah or Muhammad to any critical discussion of Muhammad by non-Muslims. It seems to be acceptable for non-Muslims to speak about Muhammad only if they speak as if they were believers, or with the sensibilities of believers paramount in their considerations.
But if someone reacts violently to another’s mere words, the fault lies with the violent one. The threats to Redeker, closely following the global outrage at the Pope, are yet another example of the jihadist attempt to frighten and intimidate the West into chastened silence.
That makes it all the more crucial, in these perilous times, for free people to speak out.