Haitham al-Haddad’s controversial return to the Netherlands got off to a trouble-free start yesterday, despite opposition from various groups. A short clip of the event, organised by Muslim Youth Almere, has been posted online.
Bernard: “Is it your intention to create a state here in the Netherlands…or somewhere else, where Islam is the rule of law? Sharia is the rule of law, is that your intention?
Al-Haddad: “See, that intention, there is a difference between what people think is the best, yes? OK? What people think is the best. I believe that Islam, I make it clear, Islam is the best for humanity. You believe that democracy is the best for humanity. Is that true or not?
Bernard: Best rule of law.
Al-Haddad: See? You would like this, you believe, and you wish that the liberal democracy becomes the law globally, yes? You wish to see that. America went to Iraq in order to force democracy there. Forget about America and Iraq but this is your belief. You are proud of it, OK? And every Muslim is proud of his belief and he believes that Islam is the best for humanity. I think it is a fair discussion.
Bernard: It’s not a fair discussion because it’s not about whether Islam is better than democracy…
Al-Haddad: I didn’t say it is better than democracy, I said that for any human being…
Bernard: It’s not the discussion Islam versus democracy…just the rule of Islam implies that people should be punished for apostasy…and you can say that’s not my statement here in the Netherlands or England or wherever but it’s practiced in countries like Pakistan, I think Afghanistan, in Iraq and it’s my problem that in those countries people are killed and imprisoned because of their beliefs. And so I cannot accept you saying well it’s just a theoretical, academical discussion here because I’m not applying it here. That is not fair because I see it in the way it works out in other countries.
Al-Haddad: Yeah so let us have that debate there. I’m really surprised. And OK, from another angle, are there certain crimes where people deserve capital punishment? Treason is not a capital punishment here? OK, does the Netherland have an army with weapons?
Al-Haddad: To do what? To play with them or to kill others?
Bernard: To defend the country.
Al-Haddad: Aha. And when defending means killing others then it will be legitimate and in fact obligatory to kill others. Yes or no?
Bernard: I’ve heard your metaphor before.
Al-Haddad: OK, yes or no? So is it legal sometimes and maybe obligatory according to Western liberal democracy to kill others or not?
Bernard: There is…
Al-Haddad: See? You are avoiding the answer.
Bernard: No, no, no. I tell you, you’ve used that metaphor before but it isn’t correct. Because in this way there isn’t a threatening…and apostasy is not threatening of Muslims.
Al-Haddad: See, you are taking your standards as the standard, as the superior, OK? And this is the problem. If we want to understand each other you should not take your standard as the standard, as the superior standard, everything in the world should be judged according to it, yeah? This is intellectual dictatorship, yeah?”
Bernard: I’m afraid we will not agree on this…
Al-Haddad: Yeah, of course. The thing is, I’m not saying that you should agree with me. And I did not expect you to agree with me and I will not agree with all your views, yes? This is normal. Two brothers in one house, they disagree on so many things. The key thing is, they should focus on what is common in order to be able to live together. It is very provocative and very irrational that every time I come here, people are asking about gays and apostates as if there are nothing in Islam except gays and apostates, yeah?
Bernard: Perhaps you should ask why is it?…this is such a fundamental issue for us that we should return every time…”
Al-Haddad: With all due respect, if all this civilisation is built on gay rights and apostasy then you are speaking ill of this civilisation because there are many things that you have to speak about this civilisation other than these things. Don’t just minimise this civilisation to just one or two things, yeah? You are saying that this is fundamental issue for you. Yes it is a fundamental issue for you but there are hundreds of fundamental other issues. Agree or not?
Bernard: It’s my conclusion that when you say I don’t want…you accuse me of not wanting to understand you, it’s my conclusion that you don’t want to understand me because this is the same thing.
Al-Haddad: No, no, there is a difference between understanding and accepting, OK? You have your own views, I respect them, I disagree with them. I have my own views, you, maybe you don’t respect them, you disagree with them, this is life.