Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy was for the Dutch a national hero as long as she fought against conservative Muslims, but became a pariah as soon as she took on the enablers of Dutch far-right conservatives. After all, the Dutch are the smartest people in the cosmos and they are always right. So who is this girl to teach them otherwise? She fights against ‘patriarchy’ and that means not only against ultra-conservative Muslims, but also against Islamophobes. Eltahawy learned about extreme anti-Islam statements during a debate in 2017 at the cultural center De Balie; she learned that the Dutch POC ‘boycott’ the center; she did not entertain the idea of becoming herself an abettor; and canceled her speech.
Watching the debate on youtube, you can see that she is right. You see a crescendo of nasty statements from participants, encouraged by the other’s endorsement of their truth about Islam. Belgian Wim van Rooy, whose business card describes as ‘Islam critic’, claims that Muslims have an “anti-cultural matrix” in their head and therefore they hate knowledge, unlike the Christians. The Muslims – says Van Rooy – see themselves as superior, but when they see the West and realize that they are inferior, they start hating the West. Just as you cannot say that there is moderate fascism, you cannot say that there is a moderate Islam, and there will never be one, says Van Rooy. He imparts solutions: we must withdraw from human rights treaties and change national laws. We must close mosques and Islamic schools, and especially close the borders. He decrees enthusiastically: “We must discriminate!” He wants to ban the Quran, which suggests that his internet provider does not have Google on the menu.
A woman in the public says that there can only be 1-2 percent Muslims per country. “If you started deporting ‘occupational Muslims’ [red. Muslims who appear in public discussions on behalf of the community]”, then the other Muslims would get “smaller mouths”, and demand no rights. Law professor Paul Cliteur replied: “I think you start with the most controversial measures … while you can start more cautiously.” The woman shouts: “You have to do something about the numbers. More Muslims is always more trouble.” Meanwhile Cliteur says “Yes” a few times. The woman continues “The more Muslims in a country, the more misery,” and Cliteur aproves “Yes, that’s true.” “There are too many Muslims in the Netherlands,” the woman shouts again.
And after two hours of revelations about Islam, Cliteur was surprised that the present Muslims did not react, his face visibly disappointed that they did not blow up the building.
As a migrant, I was stunned by the statement that one needs to destroy human rights treaties in order to violate the human rights of the minorities, especially because I grew up under a dictatorship and experienced a life without human rights guarantees. Because I graduated in international law, I quickly calculated the costs of Van Rooy’s bucket list: We must cancel all major human rights treaties and leave the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR); We must leave the EU because a state can only be a member if it participates in this court; And we must do something about Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution, that claims that all pigs are equal.
One might fathom what’s at stake if one knows that Holland is number 5 on the WJP Rule of Law Index, because of its participation in the ECtHR. By comparison the US is the 18th. John Peters Humphrey (drafter of the The Universal Declaration of Human Rights) called the European system “the most sophisticated of all contemporary instruments for the international protection of human rights.“ Or maybe I should quote the renown legal scholar and judge Bert Swart:
“In the past four decades, criminal justice in the Netherlands has experienced profound transformations. The European [human rights] Convention has broken through its traditional national isolation and has exposed it to new and unfamiliar concepts and ideas. The Convention has opened up the Dutch system to the world and forced it to adapt itself to international standards of fairness. In a way, one could say that the Dutch system of criminal justice has become less naive, more sophisticated and more mature.”
But since all criminals are Muslims, having fair trials might be a bad idea.
I was also shocked because Van Rooy and Cliteur are members of an increasingly powerful movement, together with far-right parties like FvD and PVV, Trump, the Hungarian Orbán and others. Far-right PVV politician Wilders and FvD’s Thierry Baudet not only want to demolish the ECtHR but also the International Criminal Court (ICC), precisely the court that prosecutes deportations, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Baudet believes that we risk a pan-European civil war, and his repeated predictions of uprisings make a world without the ICC extra creepy. Baudet pleaded for remigration, for prohibiting mosques and Islamic schools. He talks extatically about the French burqa ban and the Swiss referendum to ban minarets. He gets grumpy when thinking that the ECtHR can undo such measures. He wants to legalize hate speech – which is banned in Europe – making one wonder what brilliant ideas he hides in fear?
Baudet’s party booked a big success in the last elections for the Senate, and if the elections where today the party would win the most seats in the House of Representatives (28 out of 150). PVV has 20 seats, but in the polls only 11. But the other parties started to copy the xenophobic rhetoric, in order to steal their voters back. Thus, a coalition of minorities-unfriendly parties could form a new government.
So, we see a movement with growing power, which clears the obstacles against human rights violations and war crimes. And at this point in time we watch serious debates in serious debate centers where people argue seriously to violate human rights and plead for deportations. The Dark Web is obsolete.
De Balie says that they have distanced themselves from the statements during the above depicted debate. But their apology sounds more like apologetics of a ‘marketplace of ideas’, where ideas kill each other in cages without rules. For when you say that a rules-free market should decide the fate of any idea, you vow that you will accept and help enforce any possible democratically winning idea, no matter how evil it is, even if the winning alpha-male-idea is to gas you for no reason whatsoever. This is so because it would be a contradiction to say: “You may debate my gassing now, but if your idea wins, I’ll grab the weapons.”
This is why I say: not all conceivable democratic decisions are legitimate. And if there is a limit to the will of the people, then there is also a limit on which proposals can be seriously debated. Eltahawy, an expert through experience in dictatorship and victim of ultra-conservative Muslims, just wanted to give us the wake-up call.