Haitham al Haddad 390.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
AMSTERDAM – A Palestinian cleric who called on Muslims to kill Jewish “enemies
of Allah” spoke last week about Islam in Europe at one of Amsterdam’s foremost
forums for political debate.
Haitham al-Haddad appeared there on Thursday
night at the invitation of a student association of a major Dutch
“Islam became part of the landscape of Europe. Non-Muslims
cannot dictate what Islam is,” Haddad – a Saudi-born Palestinian based in London
– told the crowd at De Balie, a privately owned cultural and political
institution in central Amsterdam.
“We’re very happy that you’ve agreed to
talk to us in a setting like this with all the press present,” the director of
De Balie, Youri Albrecht, told Haddad.
“You’ve had a long day, so a warm
welcome, I would say, to Mr. Haddad.”
De Balie, situated at what used to
be Amsterdam’s district court, often hosts public readings and debates with
dignitaries and official guests of the Dutch Foreign Ministry. In November the
ministry hosted Dr. Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian human rights activist and 2003
Nobel Peace Prize laureate, at De Balie.
“The best role for women to play
is to be good mothers, supporting the family and supporting society through
this. We are suffering from women who are abandoning their children or women who
are following media,” Haddad also said at De Balie.
His address was part
of a debate with Tofik Dibi, a member of parliament for the Green Left party,
and Kustaw Bessems, a Dutch journalist for the freely distributed newspaper De
. Bessems arranged the event together with the Islamic student association
of the Free University.
Haddad was scheduled to speak on campus, but the
university canceled the talk after protest by the Center for Information and
Documentation on Israel, the Netherlands’ watchdog on anti-Semitism.
obtained a copy of an Arabiclanguage op-ed from 2002 carrying Haddad’s name that
praises suicide bombers, describes “peace with the Jews” as “betrayal” and calls
Jews and Christians “the enemies of Allah.”
Haddad, who is based in
London, was born to Palestinian parents in Saudi Arabia, where he grew up. At a
televised sermon from 2009, he said: “Israel will never live in peace. This
message has to be clear for the Israelis: Israeli will never live in peace.
That’s why my proposed solution for the Israelis is to leave Palestine and to go
back to their own countries.”
A parliamentary majority has asked Dutch
Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten to ban the Islamic scholar from entering the
Netherlands, but Haddad’s visit was approved.
“It was only after that
parliamentary majority decided they’d try to interfere and try to stop Haddad
from entering, and after the Free University gave in to political pressure and
canceled an event where he was scheduled to speak, that it became a matter of
principle to find some venue,” Bessems said. He added that he found some of
Haddad’s ideas “despicable.”
Hafid Bouazza, a Moroccan-born Dutch writer,
accused Bessems of acting like “a black lawyer willfully jumping to defend Ku
Klux Klansmen,” in a column for De Volkskrant,
an influential daily. “Islamists
have learned that in the West, the best way to proselytize is to say you want to
‘debate,’” Bouazza wrote.
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