UK-based Palestinian extremist speaks at Amsterdam venue

Cleric who called on Muslims to kill Jewish “enemies of Allah” speaks at one of Amsterdam’s foremost forums for political debate.

February 22, 2012 04:34
2 minute read.
Haitham al Haddad

Haitham al Haddad 390. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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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 university.

“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 Pers. 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.

CIDI 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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