Violent Intimidation

On Thursday, April 12, Somali thugs on an Oslo street attacked Kadra, a Somali woman who now lives in Norway, and beat her senseless, breaking several of her ribs. They were enraged at her for her recent statement that the Qur’an’s views of women needed reevaluation. They also might have been angry because of her role in revealing the widespread support among imams in Norway for female genital mutilation.

As they beat her, Kadra’s attackers shouted Allahu akbar — Allah is great — and recited verses from the Qur’an. “I was terrified,” she said. “While I lay on the pavement they kicked me and screamed that I had trampled on the Koran.”

The following Tuesday, two men in Mississauga, Ontario, attacked journalist Jawaad Faizi, who writes for the Pakistan Post, a newspaper based in Mississauga. The attackers told Faizi to stop “writing against Islam,” and particularly to stop criticizing an Islamic organization, Idara Minhaj-ul-Quran.

Faizi, a native of Lahore, Pakistan, said, “I had so many problems back home as a journalist, but I’m shocked that this is happening here.”

Of course, “writing against Islam,” or being perceived as having done so, has always been dangerous, as Salman Rushdie can attest. The New York Times reported in 2002 that a professor at the University of Nablus in the West Bank, Suliman Bashear, who “argued that Islam developed as a religion gradually rather than emerging fully formed from the mouth of the Prophet,” was for this heretical teaching (from the point of view of traditional Islam) thrown out of a second-story window by his students. In 1992,  Egyptian writer Faraj Foda was murdered by Muslims enraged at his “apostasy” from Islam — another offense for which Islamic law prescribes the death penalty.

But for such things to happen where Islamic radicalism is widespread is one thing; to have them happen in Oslo and Ontario is another. But this has happened before in the West. On November 2, 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was bicycling through the streets of Amsterdam when Mohammed Bouyeri, a Muslim wearing traditional Islamic clothing, began shooting at him. After Van Gogh fell off his bike, Bouyeri ran up to him and began slitting his throat, attempting to behead him. He left a note on a knife stabbed into the body. The note contained verses from the Qur’an and threats to other Dutch public figures who opposed the flood of Muslim immigrants into the Netherlands.

Bouyeri killed van Gogh because of the filmmaker’s twelve-minute video Submission, which decried the mistreatment of Muslim women. At his trial, Bouyeri was absolutely clear about why he murdered van Gogh. “I did what I did purely out my beliefs,” he explained, Qur’an in hand. “I want you to know that I acted out of conviction and not that I took his life because he was Dutch or because I was Moroccan and felt insulted….If I ever get free, I would do it again.” He was, he said, acting in accord with Islamic law: “What moved me to do what I did was purely my faith. I was motivated by the law that commands me to cut off the head of anyone who insults Allah and his prophet.”

The attacks on Kadra and Faizi show that there are many others in the West today who believe that they must likewise act upon Allah’s commands and victimize those whom they deem to have offended Islam.

This is a challenge to all Western governments, for it is a challenge to the freedom of speech that is rooted in the constitutions and laws of Western states, and ultimately is intimately connected with the freedom of conscience and the Judeo-Christian view of the dignity of the human being before God. Western leaders should move now to make it abundantly clear that attacks on “blasphemers” and “heretics” will not be tolerated; that those who believe that Sharia should be the highest law of the land are not welcome here; and that the West will defend our Judeo-Christian culture and heritage.

Otherwise, only one thing is certain: there will be many more such attacks.